14 thoughts on “5 Tilbury Speeches

  1. Elizabeth I on screen will always be for me Dame Glenda Jackson. So her rendering of the speeches my favourite. Dame Helen Miren and Cate Blanchett run a close second.

  2. Each has its merits but — it takes weeks to build a suit of plate. Each piece has to be made and fitted to the wearer, so for a complete harness, at least a month, even for a queen. At best, she could have worn a back and breast, a gorget, and a helmet, which would still have given a stirring impression.

    1. All the biographies say QEI was wearing a curiass over a “white gown” (Allison Weir says “white velvet gown”) & that a retainer carried a helmet & the sword of state before her. Obviously, the Cate Blanchett version takes A LOT of liberties putting the queen in full armor (but y’know, that’s a fairly crap movie for accuracy overall ;-) ). The Anne-Marie Duff version from 2005 has some issues, but they tried hard for accuracy in the plot & look.

  3. True both Cate’s Eliza movies were about as historically accurate as REIGN or THE TUDORS, but it had Cate who is one of my favourite actors.
    But rumor has it that Dame Glenda and Bette Davis actually had their hairline shaved. Now, that is going the extra distance for accuracy.

  4. A cuirass is essentially a back-and-breast, the front and back halves of body armour, and were made in quantity. That makes perfect sense.

    1. “This tight-fitting cuirass
      Is but a useless mass.
      It’s made of steel and weighs a deal.
      A man is but an ass who fights in a cuirass.”

      W. S. Gilbert, Princess Ida

  5. Gilbert is entitled to his opinion. A properly fitted cuirass isn’t all that much of a burden, but by Gilbert’s time it was only for parades, since modern firearms had made armour obsolete. Until Kevlar, which is much lighter than steel.

    1. Well, Ida isn’t set contemporary with Gilbert’s time; it’s more of a pseudo-Medieval/fairytale setup. The verse is part of a strip act in which Ida’s hulky, not-overly bright brothers shed their uncomfortable armor piece by piece as they prepare to sword-fight with the heroes. And Sullivan gives it a wonderful mock-Handelian melody.

  6. Ah, Gilbert and Sullivan! Full of words and music, signifying nothing much. Vicky loved Sullivan because he wrote hymns, but she hated Gilbert because he satirized Authority, and even *gasp!* the Crown.
    Some heavy cavalry units still wore cuirasses in the field in the early 19th century, but less so later on.

    1. However, after advising Sullivan during his knighting to write a “real” opera, Victoria never actually saw Ivanhoe, which he wrote in response to what he considered a Royal Command.

      She did, though, have a command performance of The Gondoliers brought to her and was seen happily rocking and beating time to “One of Us Will Be a Queen.”

        1. Yes, but rarely. It’s got its moments—terrific arias for Rebecca and the Curtal Friar—but as a whole, it isn’t very good.

  7. “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant.”

    -Miranda Richardson as “Queenie” in Blackadder II

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