Elizabeth I: the Armada and Beyond, 1588-2018

19–21 April 2018, Royal Museums, Greenwich

In September 2016, Royal Museums Greenwich acquired the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I. This remarkable work of art has captured widespread attention from its creation until the present day, providing a defining image of what has come to be seen as a critical moment in history: the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in the summer of 1588. This conference will address this moment in time and its consequences both for Elizabeth and her subjects in the immediate aftermath of the Armada and for subsequent generations, as the idea of the Virgin Queen and her great triumph has been shaped and remade throughout history until the present day.

This conference will mark the conservation and re-display of the Armada Portrait at the Queen's House, the last remaining building of Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Elizabeth I and a major royal site for the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. The Queen's House and the collections of Royal Museums Greenwich offer the potential to unpack a range of meanings and contexts for the image, including the domestic and international worlds of the Renaissance period and the resonance of the
Spanish Armada within history to the present day. It is hoped that this conference will pick up on these themes, advancing our understanding of the Armada Portrait specifically and Elizabeth I more generally, interrogating popular notions associated with her life and reputation, offering fresh and alternative perspectives.

Themes that might be considered include (but are not limited to):

  • Female power and authority
  • Female monarchs and consorts as war leaders
  • Court culture and patronage post-1588
  • Relations with Protestant Europe and reputation as a Protestant heroine 
  • Her role during and after the Spanish Armada 
  • Elizabeth in the public eye 
  • Commemorations of 1588 in Elizabethan culture and beyond 
  • Relations with the Islamic World, 1588-1603 
  • Trade and Empire, East and West
  • Elizabeth and her biographers 
  • Representations in historical genre paintings 
  • Characterizations in film, fiction, opera and theatre
  • The reputation of Elizabeth, home and abroad, from 1588 to the present day

We invite submission of abstracts (300 to 400 words) for twenty-minute papers, along wih a brief biography, to research@rmg.co.uk. The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2017. 

Please direct any queries to criding@rmg.co.uk or janet.dickinson@conted.ox.ac.uk

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