In 1597, André Hurault, Sieur de Maisse and Ambassador Extraordinary from Henri IV, noted that although the English people still professed love for their aging queen, the sentiments of the nobility were such that ‘the English would never again submit to the rule of a woman’.1 There may have been more coincidence between high and low opinion than de Maisse thought. On the evening of Elizabeth’s death six years later, the streets of London were lit by festive bonfires and punctuated by cries of ‘We have a king!’2 The advent of an orderly and Protestant succession does not in itself account for such a celebratory spirit; in fact, it was a significant transformation in the body politic, a reincorporation and regendering of monarchy, that was being heralded. Rather than a seamless transition of power reminding all the populace that the corporate body of the monarch was immortal, unchanging, and unaltered by the demise of a particular sovereign, the death of Elizabeth marked a breach in the body politic as much as a continuation of it, and one that could be figured, at least by some, as a welcome discontinuity. The queen is dead — long live the king.
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