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Shakespeare & Beyond

How Queen Elizabeth I spent her summer vacation

Queen Elizabeth I arriving at Nonsuch
Queen Elizabeth I arriving at Nonsuch
Queen Elizabeth I arriving at Nonsuch

Elizabeth I arriving at Nonsuch, Franz Hogenberg after Georg Hoefnagel. Hand-colored engraving from Braun and Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum, ca. 1598. Folger Shakespeare Library. (Click the image to see a zoomable version in the Folger’s digital image collection.)

You thought you had packing woes—imagine trying to cram a whole palace-full of goods into carts for a summer-long jaunt through the English countryside! Yet this is just what Queen Elizabeth I’s staff did almost two dozen times during her 44-year reign, as she and her court took to the highways for her seasonal progresses.

These trips took her to towns and manors throughout southern England and the midlands, where she was able to see—and be seen by—a broad cross-section of her subjects. Crowds turned out to cheer her passage, church bells rang, and as admirer Thomas Churchyard observed, she was able to “draw the hearts of the people after hyr wheresoever she travels.” In an age that had not yet witnessed a campaign swing or a photo op, the Queen had mastered the art of public relations.


How could Elizabeth I arrive at Nonsuch in 1607 when she died in 1603?

David Roth — May 22, 2016

Yes, that would be quite a feat, wouldn’t it? Thanks for catching that mistake! The caption has been corrected.

Esther French — May 23, 2016