The Young Princess Elizabeth, Neo-Latin, and the Power of the Written Word
Earlier critics of Elizabeth’s life-long use of Latin wondered why she bothered to learn the language, queried whether in fact she really did, and claimed that her portrayal as a humanist scholar of Latin emanated simply from Tudor propaganda. Fortunately, we have moved on from these negative views thanks to subsequent editions and studies of her Latin compositions and translations. Those she composed while still a princess, however, have attracted little critical attention. They will be the focus of this essay and will demonstrate that even at this early age, Elizabeth was aware of the power of the written word to articulate a particular conception of the monarchy, to reinforce family relationships, and to create for herself the persona of a learned and pious young woman, thus ensuring her safety and inclusion in the unstable world of the Tudor court.