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Bear-baiting, snappy dressing, hunting, exotic gifts, love poems and dancing all grabbed the Queen’s attention. But the stakes were high – getting it right meant a fortune but getting it wrong meant the Tower of London. Here are the best ways to get in her good books.
#1 Take Her Bear-Baiting
Like her subjects, she enjoyed the unsavory sport of watching dogs fight bears. In Southwark’s Bear Garden and her arena in Whitehall Palace she entertained foreign ambassadors with the spectacle. She loved it so much that when the public began to prefer the theater, she banned plays on Thursdays to make certain the bear rings were “maintained for her majesty’s pleasure.’
#2 Lavish Gifts
Big rewards were on offer. Francis Drake won a Knighthood for circumnavigating the globe and bringing her treasure and rare spices. Sir Walter Raleigh named his American colony ‘Virginia’ after her and won a palace and a title. The more exotic the gift the better – one Arctic explorer gave her a ‘Unicorn Tusk’ called ‘The Horn of Windsor’ which was placed with the Crown Jewels.
#3 Woo Her Shamelessly
She demanded constant flattery, gifts, and love poems and loved a big romantic gesture. This ‘courtly love’ saw courtiers compete for wealth and favor by flirting outrageously. Even as an old woman, flirting remained the correct mode of interaction. One love poem called her ‘the seat of joys and love’s abundance’. But this ideal of courtly romance had a flip-side and she did not take kindly to ‘infidelity’ – when Walter Raleigh married she was so angry that she locked him up in the Tower of London.
#4 Enjoy Riding & Hunting
She was an expert rider, and she liked to ride fast. She rode so often that she was once accused of neglecting court and spending all her time out riding. Her favorite courtier Robert Dudley was made her Master of Horses. She was also a keen hunter and the French Ambassador once reported that she had killed six deer with her crossbow on a hunting trip.
#5 Dress Well
She filled her court with dashing, handsome young men wearing sumptuous fabrics and styles such as velvets, frills, and ruffs. In one story, Sir Walter Raleigh spread his cloak on a ‘plashy place’ (puddle), to protect her from getting muddy and as a reward she gave him many new suits.
#6 Know Your Dance Moves
She practiced the energetic leaps and kicks of the Galliard each morning to keep fit. She was reported to have performed a risqué dance in public with her favored courtiers and was held and spun in front of the court.
#7 Write A Play
She had her own theater company named “The Queen’s Players”, who regularly entertained her. Shakespeare’s players played for her in special performances at her palaces in Greenwich, Whitehall, and Richmond.