Elizabeth I chose as her motto the Latin phrase, Semper Eadem, which means “Always the same.” It is an ironic statement in many ways. During her reign many perceived Elizabeth as indecisive and changeable; after her death historians have regarded Elizabeth and her reign from a variety of different perspectives. As we move into the twenty-first century, we need to re-evaluate this enigmatic sixteenth-century Queen and the significance of her reign. Elizabeth I is one of the most famous women in history and one of the best known British monarchs. It is difficult to separate the myth from the reality of her reign, and each age brings its own values to an evaluation of her and her significance. The recent film Elizabeth, as well as the characterization of the Queen in Shakespeare in Love, have given a new generation ideas about Elizabeth and her age, some of which are interesting but have doubtful historical value. Certainly Elizabeth I was far more complex and effective than her depiction in the recent film that bore her name.
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