William Camden and the anti-myth of Elizabeth: setting the mould?

Patrick Collinson

in This England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084423
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702031 | DOI:
William Camden and the anti-myth of Elizabeth: setting the mould?

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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There is some evidence that William Camden's early ambition was to be a historian, until persuaded by the Dutch scholar Ortelius that the Britannia project should have priority. Camden had an ambivalent attitude to the near-contemporary history which was his next major undertaking, a history of England, Scotland and Ireland, in the reign of Elizabeth I, constructed on the model of the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus, referred to as the Annales. We are indebted to Camden ample material for both favourable and unfavourable characterisations of Elizabeth. We also owe to him as her first historian and for providing the sense of the absolute centrality to the Elizabethan story of the so long deferred question of Mary Queen of Scots. Camden was certainly not the stuff of which Elizabethan myths of Gloriana were made.

Keywords: Elizabethan historian; Britannia; Annales; Mary Queen of Scots; Elizabethan myths

Chapter.  8533 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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