Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Type: Theses
Title: Aristocratic women at the Late Elizabethan Court: politics, patronage and power
Author: Hocking, Joanne Lee
Issue Date: 2015
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: This thesis examines the power of aristocratic women in politics and patronage in the final years of the Elizabethan court (1580 to 1603). Substantial archival sources are analysed to evaluate the concepts of female political agency discussed in scholarly literature, including women’s roles in politics, within families, in networks and as part of the court patronage system. A case study methodology is used to examine the lives and careers of specific aristocratic women in three spheres of court politics – the politics of female agency, the politics of family and faction, and the politics of favour. The first case study looks at Elizabeth’s long-serving lady-in-waiting, Anne Dudley, Countess of Warwick, and demonstrates that female political agents harnessed multiple sources of agency to exercise power at court on behalf of dense patronage networks. It introduces the original concept of a female ‘companion favourite’ who used a close personal relationship with the queen to become one of the most successful courtiers of the period and to rival the power of aristocratic men in a number of ways. Case studies on the Cooke sisters, Anne, Lady Bacon and Elizabeth, Lady Russell, examine their loyalties and obligations to male kin on either side of a political divide in the 1590s. For the first time, the activities of these aristocratic women are incorporated into the study of factionalism at the Elizabethan court and argue that a convergence of family and state politics enhanced women’s political significance. The final series of case studies discusses the effect of kinship with an Elizabethan male favourite on women’s political agency and analyses the interdependent flow of power between Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and four of his closest female kin. The thesis uniquely examines the ability of aristocratic women out of royal favour to exercise power and pursue feminine strategies for patronage. These case studies show that aristocratic women made their own decisions within the scope of kin obligations and highlight an overlap between family and independent political agency. The thesis concludes that the realities of a personal monarchy under a queen regnant meant that aristocratic women’s roles in politics and patronage were integral to the effective functioning of the court and state, but that their sex determined how they exercised power. Whilst all aristocratic women at the late Elizabethan court were politically significant, those who mastered the exercise of power and wielded it appropriately took their political agency to a higher level.
Advisor: McGregor, Frank
Payne, Helen
Barclay, Katie
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2015.
Keywords: aristocratic women
Elizabethan women
Tudor politics
Tudor women
women and politics
Elizabethan court
court politics
early modern England
Elizabethan England
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
01front.pdf248.9 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
02whole.pdf2.4 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
PermissionsLibrary staff access only317.31 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
RestrictedLibrary staff access only2.69 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.