‘The Cult of Gloriana’ and the challenges it faced, Amy Moore
In the 1590s, the ‘cult of Gloriana’ emerged publicly to promote the divinity of the monarch through official portraits and miniatures. Through his ‘Mask of Youth’ portraits Nicholas Hilliard provided the official depictions which emphasised that Elizabeth was God’s deputy on earth and that the institution of monarchy was eternal and godlike. This article will discuss the challenges to this ideology of the divine right through considering the key messages behind William Shakespeare’s Richard II. In Richard II Shakespeare asks the audience to question this believe of the divine right and presents an alternative view of kingship, based on hereditary rights and lawful conduct. A comparative analysis of Richard II and the portrait Queen Elizabeth I (1599) known as the Hardwick portrait by the workshop of Nicholas Hilliard, will be undertaken to illustrate what the nature of these differing interpretations of monarchy were and how Elizabeth’s court responded.