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A Letter to Queen Elizabeth

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Dear the Most Great and Absolute Queen Elizabeth,

I am elated to have observed your rule, my divine light, as you have matured into a magnificent Queen. Your most brilliant and excellent leadership has made the country of England into the most esteemed in all the world. You have made excellent choices during your rule, which I would like to address, Your Majesty. I would like to reflect on them and provide counsel, as a means to prepare for the future of your long reign.

In your first stately decision, you followed the advice of your council. Your Majesty’s advisors had desired a preemptive attack on Mary of Guise because she had increased the garrison of French troops in Scotland by four thousand. I would like to commend you on your judgment to think ahead, but I would like to advise you “to be slow to believe and to act” to ensure even greater success (XVII, iv). Walsingham was wise to advise you as such. Your quick decision was based on the fact that you wanted to appear a good leader—decisive like your father. I am merely an unassuming servant, but did you consider that important decisions color the perceptions of you, and that they should be well thought out. I might suggest that you should have “proceed[ed] in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity” (XVII, iv). In matters of state, we would all be well-advised to see the problem from many angles. A good ruler ought to scrutinize how their acts might appear from their people’s perspective for instance. The people of the great nation of England might have seen an ill-prepared army made up of their friends and family sent to the slaughter. I can merely speculate that this seemingly reckless decision made the Catholic Church feel even more assured in its ability to openly preach against your reign.

This brings me to my second point; I admire your decision to unify the people of England under one church, Glorious Sovereign. Since your sister, Bloody Mary, had reestablished a connection to the Pope after your father Henry VIII formed the Anglican Church, your brave action of cutting off the ties to Rome showed that you were willing to do what was best for your country. By choosing a side in this endeavor, you became more respected by your people and other nations as a prince is more respected when they are “either a true friend or a downright enemy” (XXI,iii). When you ascended gracefully to the throne, there was much bloodshed and malcontent among the ranks of Catholics and Protestants as they struggled for dominance. Your act of uniformity was a light to guide your people towards a singular goal, showing that you as a leader desired progress for your country.

The progress you have made in your country and as a ruler has been remarkable, my magnificent Queen. You have become a ruler who has inspired awe in your subjects and in me. Your Majesty exercised your power expertly by using the aspect of the man, through law, and the aspects of the lion and fox to catch Norfolk in the pinnacle of his treachery. A good ruler such as yourself clearly “understand[s] how to avail [her]self of the beast and the man” (XVII, i). You used the fox aspect in your decision to send the agreement that Walsingham intercepted from the Pope on to Norfolk, and the lion aspect to round up and make examples of him and the other traitors against your rule. I am proud of your proactive decision at destroying the ones who mean you and your state harm. You have matured from a kind and well-meaning woman into a skilled ruler who controls matters of state and overcomes any obstacle set before her.

My Queen, as a ruler you have become most powerful in the world. You have showed your beliefs immutable when you were first arrested by your sister due to your Protestantism. Even though you were quick to act and embark into a foolish war, you have since always appeared to be “merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright” and have always put your country first (XVIII, iii). As your reign continued, you played your suitors masterfully and killed your enemies, thereby securing your position as ruler. You developed into a dexterous ruler and shed your notions of the need to lead by the heart. You cut your ties to the past and became a physical embodiment of the divine, the Virgin Queen. You overcame the power that men had over you and transcended your femininity to exemplify the perfect ruler. I bow before your eternal might, my grace. Thank you for indulging me—for reading your humble servant’s letter.

Sincerely Yours,

Niccolo Machiavelli



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