Queen Elizabeth 1
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Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I
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Contemporary Descriptions

From the below contemporary descriptions of the Queen, it is again possible to see that different people, at different periods of the Queen's life, saw the Queen differently. It is very much a case of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and how we see someone physically depends to a large extent on our feelings for that person, such as whether we admire then, fear them, or dislike them. To those who worshipped Elizabeth as Gloriana, such as Thomas Platter, she does indeed appear eternally youthful, whereas foreigners to the realm were more objective, indifferent perhaps, and merely described what they saw.

"Her face is comely rather than handsome, but she is tall and well-formed, with good skin, though swarthy; she has fine eyes."
Venetian Ambassador, Giovanni Michiele, 1557.

Sir James Melville in his Memoirs described the young Queen's hair as "more reddish than yellow, and curled in appearance naturally."

"Short, and ruddy in complexion; very strongly built."
Francesco Gradenigo, 1596

"...her face oblong, fair, but wrinkled, her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked, her lips narrow and her teeth black; her hair was of an auburn colour, but false; upon her head she had a small crown. Her bosom was uncovered, as all the English ladies have it till they marry. Her hands were slender, her fingers rather long, and her stature neither tall nor low; her air was stately, and her manner of speaking mild and obliging."
Paul Hentzner, German visitor to Greenwich Palace, 1598.

Sir Francis Bacon described her as "tall of stature".

"Slender and straight; her hair inclined to pale yellow; her forehead large and fair; her eyes lively and sweet, but short sighted, her nose somewhat rising in the midst; her countenance was somewhat long, but yet of admirable beauty, in a most delightful composition of majesty and modesty"
Sir John Hayward.

"Very youthful still in appearance, seeming no more than twenty years of age."
Thomas Platter, 1599.

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