Chapter

The History of Madam Britannia

Emma Major

in Madam Britannia

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199699377
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738029 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699377.003.0002
The History of Madam Britannia

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This chapter explores the history of Britannia. It looks at her many representations on coins, prints, medallions, and argues that she became an important means of uniting the country under William and May following the Glorious Revolution, and then again under Anne after the Act of Union in 1707. It contends that Britannia became entwined with Elizabeth I and British queens, and also with depictions of the Church of England as female. Britannia was popularised through theatres, masques, pleasure-gardens, and exhibitions, and her evolving depictions are explored from Roman times to 1800. The chapter concludes with a discussion of John Flaxman’s plans to erect a truly colossal Britannia at Greenwich in celebration of naval successes, and explores reasons why Britannia might be a less powerful figure in 1799.

Keywords: Britannia; church; Elizabeth I; John Bull; William Camden; Poly-Olbion; Albion; John Flaxman

Chapter.  19714 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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