The Heart and Stomach of a King
Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power
"This study will appeal to anyone interested in Elizabeth Tudor or, more generally, women in power."—Publishers Weekly
"An important book. . . . Levin breaks out of the usual stale biographical packaging of Elizabeth by using traditional sources in imaginative ways."—Shakespeare Quarterly
"A persuasive analysis of how perception of gender roles helped to constitute power in Tudor England."—Choice
"Promises to become a classic of enduring interest to specialists and general readers alike."—Sixteenth Century Journal
"Levin is stimulating on topics such as Elizabeth I's use of the image of the Virgin Queen, one which could be helpfully confused in the popular imagination with that of the discarded Catholic Virgin Mary."—London Times
"The Heart and Stomach of a King occupies the realm where political and social history overlap with anthropology, art history, and literary criticism. Enriched by all these viewpoints, Levin's work is remarkably in tune with Elizabeth. The innovative and allusive quality of Levin's prose matches the fluidity and creativity of Elizabeth's behavior."—Albion
Chosen as one of the ten best academic books of the 1990s by Lingua Franca readers
"I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king."—Elizabeth I
Whether this sentence is an accurate transcription of Elizabeth's speech at Tilbury in 1588, it does characterize some of the struggles, contradictions, and cultural anxieties that dominated the collective consciousness of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In The Heart and Stomach of a King, Carole Levin explores contemporary representations of the unmarried, childless Elizabeth and focuses on the ways in which members of her court, foreign ambassadors, and a motley—and sometimes delusional—collection of subjects responded to her. Throughout, Levin's purpose is to explore how gender constructions, role expectations, and beliefs about sexuality influenced both Elizabeth's self-presentation and others' perceptions of her as a female, and Protestant, ruler.
Carole Levin is Professor of History at the State University of New York. She is the author of Propaganda in the English Reformation: Heroic and Villainous Images of King John, and editor (with Karen Robertson) of Sexuality and Politics in Renaissance Drama and (with Jeanie Watson) Ambiguous Realities: Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.