Bajetta, Carlo M.; Coatalen, Guillaume and Gibson, Jonathan (2014). Introduction. In: Bajetta, Carlo M.; Coatalen, Guillaume and Gibson, Jonathan eds. Elizabeth I’s Foreign Correspondence: Letters, Rhetoric, and Politics. Queenship and Power. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, xix-xxv.



Queen Elizabeth I's contemporaries were in no doubt about her linguistic capabilities: from her childhood onward, family members, courtiers, tutors, ambassadors and visitors to England from abroad queued up to praise her facility in speaking and writing an impressive range of foreign tongues. The distinguished humanist scholar Roger Ascham claimed that Elizabeth was the brightest of his pupils, mastering Latin, Greek, Italian, and Frnch at an early age. The earliest letter of Elizabeth's to have survived, significantly, is not in English but in Italian: an address to Queen Katherine Parr showcasing in a single text, the 11-year-old princess's courtly politesse, affection for her stepmother, mastery of Italian, and elegant italic hand. One of her earliest literary works, a New Year's gift to her father Henry VIII for 1546, was a virtuosic translation of Katherine's Prayers and Meditations into Latin, French and Italian.

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