She ruled well, they say.
But how, without husband’s help?
Clearly, penis lurked.
We’ve had a few Saturdays without any nonsense and that must change. So to cap off Crossdresser Week, we’re going to talk about the enormously stupid theory that ELIZABETH I WAS REALLY A DUDE IN DRESSES OMG.
The theory goes like this: the real Elizabeth, then ten years old, is sent to to the country town of Bisley in the company of her governess and her guardian for protection against the then-raging plague. Oops, she dies, worst luck. Her minders immediately get a message from her father, Henry VIII, that he intends to visit tout suite. They panic and instead of copping to the princess’ death, they snag the closest lookalike they can find – her friend, a farmboy named Neville. They throw a dress on him, the ruse works, and it continues to work until the boy’s death SIXTY YEARS LATER.
Here’s a fact for you: while Elizabeth remained unmarried, that did not mean that her genitals went unobserved throughout the entirety of her reign. Bess might have been a heretical bastard, but that didn’t stop assorted European nobles from expressing an interest in marrying her. That meant thorough medical examinations in front of witnesses to reassure prospective bridegrooms that she was capable of bearing and birthing babies.
Hey, you think, given that, someone would’ve gossiped about a penis had it been attached to the queen? You think that it would have been used as propaganda by the French or Spanish (both countries providing suitors) or the Pope? Because I sure as hell do. Remember the shit spread about Anne Boleyn just a generation prior – she was a witch! She banged her brother! And a hundred other men besides! They wouldn’t have let a penis go, no matter how flaccid.
Here’s another fact for you! Henry VIII, while definitely possessed of cruel and tyrannical tendencies, was not a goddamned moron. (Really, he was quite the intelligent and cultured guy. Shame about the whole ‘chop off the heads of friends and loved ones I perceive to have betrayed me without solid evidence’ thing.) And while he didn’t see young Elizabeth all that often, it beggars belief that he wouldn’t have noticed the switch. Individuals are not just marked by their physical characteristics – mannerisms, vocal cadences, memories, and more play a role. No matter how tight Neville got with the princess when she came to Bisley, it beggars belief that he knew her so well that he could ape all of that without arousing the suspicion of her intelligent, ever-distrusting father.
This becomes especially relevant because one of the reasons people still buy this shit is because they doubt that a woman could have been so intelligent and educated to rule effectively. But Elizabeth’s education was well underway by this point (hence the governess, who had already taught her four languages by the time all this was supposed to have taken place). Maybe this theoretical farmboy Neville could have copied that with a few years of preparation, but a week or so? Fuck off.
But women are dumb and need a man, or their hormones go crazy and they start bleeding all over declarations. Everything about this conspiracy theory is gross and I hate it.
Btw, you can blame Bram Stoker for popularizing this mound of bullshit. Yeah, the Dracula guy.