Schooling Shrews and Grooming Queens in the Tudor Classroom

in Critical Survey

Roger Ascham has been credited with rehabilitating Elizabeth Tudor's image after a near-disastrous seduction at the hands of her stepmother's husband Thomas Seymour. But in many ways Ascham's tutelage merely continues a process the Lord Admiral had already begun, educating a young girl about what to wear, how to comport herself, and how to regard her male teacher, all necessary steps in the programme Vives details as removing 'the residue of her infancy'. This essay examines Ascham's seductions and Seymour's pedagogy with the larger aim of exploring the Tudor classroom, at once an official site of humanist learning and kind of rival space where women were taught to read and to write and to counteract the designs of male teachers. If images of Lucretia and Griselda resurface in accounts of Elizabeth's prodigious learning, there were other female figures - like Katherine Parr and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's governess Kat Ashley and the Duchess of Suffolk - who shaped a humanism of the household just as crucial as the humanism of the university.

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