Monday, June 6, 2011

Greetings, Valued Readers!

As I officially launch Being Bess today, I feel it is necessary to write an introductory post to orient the reader with the who, why, and how of this project.
I appreciate all who visit this site, and I look forward to your faithful reading. Most especially, I want to extend a thank you to my “built in audience”-my Twitter followers-I am humbled and honored by the fascinating array of individuals who choose to follow me, and partake in my mission of honoring Elizabeth.
            Nothing delights me more than having an array of published writers, re-enactors, politicians, hard-working college students, teachers, housewives, Tudor enthusiasts and travel guides following my queenly persona.
            Being Bess is as much your site as it is mine. In addition to my regular articles, I will be looking to you to submit articles for a “guest author” spotlight every couple of months.

            Semper Eadem
“Always the Same”
- Ashlie R. Jensen, A.K.A. ERITudor

Who: Recently graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, Ashlie R. Jensen is committed to making European history interesting and accessible to the public. Employed in museum education, her areas of expertise are the 11th through 14th centuries in medieval Europe, and the Tudor Dynasty, specifically the Elizabethan era. In love with modern British culture as well, all the evidence suggests that Ashlie has a British soul trapped in an American body!

Passionate about the Tudors, Ashlie became powerfully drawn to Elizabeth Tudor, initially relating to her tumultuous childhood and formative adolescent years. Ashlie was fascinated by Elizabeth’s survival in the fickle Tudor court, her struggle to remain relevant once written out of the succession by her brother Edward, and her close calls with death in the reign of her sister Mary. She then became overwhelmingly inspired by Elizabeth’s unlikely ascension to the throne, and her subsequent successful nearly 45 year reign.

Ashlie has independently researched every aspect of Elizabeth’s life. While Ashlie relies on primary documents first and foremost, she also values the informed opinions of David Starkey, David Loades, Eric Ives, Alison Weir, Tracey Boreman, Sarah Gristwood, Garret Mattingly, Giles Tremlett, Leanda de Lisle, and more.

Ashlie historically interprets Queen Elizabeth I in first person perspective, dressed in fully researched and accurate Elizabethan garb. Ashlie garb are based on the patterns by Margo Anderson, and lovingly sewn by her mother, to whom she is eternally indebted! Ashlie Elizabeth I presentations vary in content, but always include a first-person monologue and conclude with an in-character question and answer session.

Ashlie at the end of her original program, Elizabeth Addresses the Troops at Tilbury presented in March at her work for Women in Armor month.

Ashlie next to a 3 Quarter Armor suit of armor, belonging to Elizabeth I's contemporary Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. This armor is in the collection at the Museum where she works. 

A work in progress, this entirely accurate (authentic fabric and construction) gown is based on what sparse references we have on what Elizabeth I wore on her visit to Tilbury in 1588.
While I prefer to don my Elizabeth wig for program appearances, Elizabeth supposedly wore her hair loose on this occasion in history, so I went without.
I have since added a hand-embroidered Pelican in Her Piety badge to the dress, and plan on adding two Phoenix rising, one on each bell sleeve!

ERITudor plans to continue her education as time (and money!) allow. In the meantime, she will continue to work at her fulfilling job, and lovingly tend to !

What: If you ask most people who the most famous queen of England was, most likely they will say Queen Elizabeth I. But beyond the name, many struggle to recall why she is so famous.

For me, Elizabeth I is not merely a name, or an iconic image of a red-haired, bejeweled monarch in a lace ruff collar-she is the most inspirational, empowering and moving historical figure I know of.  She has always personally touched my soul, and driven me to become better than my surroundings and achieve my potential.

But she is not just a personal icon- I believe she is a relevant historical figure for today’s tumultuous times. Modern women (and men, too) can learn much from Elizabeth’s financial strategy and economic stimulus. Religious radicals could learn from Elizabeth’s moderate religious stance, and more tolerant views (in comparison to her three immediate predecessors, excluding the “reign” of Jane Grey). Diplomats could draw ideas from her foreign policy.

I am committed to highlighting Elizabeth’s seemingly divine strengths, as well as her human weaknesses. Her groundbreaking reign brought economic stability, peace and abundance to a previously bankrupt, weak and fearful nation. In conjunction with my articles on Elizabeth, all properly annotated for those who want further reference, you can also look forward to articles on her “supporting cast”-Influential confidantes and courtiers such as Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Walsingham, William Cecil, Edward De Vere, Katherine Ashley, Katherine Parr, Anne of Cleves and many others.

How: Through this blog, my historical interpreting work, and my various side-writing projects, I aim to bring Elizabeth, her world, and her legacy to the masses. Regular articles will be posted on Elizabeth’s childhood, (i.e. education, parental relationships, sibling relationships) her adolescence, (i.e. care under Katherine Parr and the Thomas Seymour scandal, and her persecution during her sister Mary’s reign) and her adult life, ( ascension, early founding years of Elizabethan policy, religious tensions, relations with Spain, and the Spanish Armada,  Mary the Queen of Scots, her lifelong partnership with Robert Dudley, the  “marriage question”) and much, much more!

    While I have a general idea of what order I will be writing and posting theses topics, I will occasionally ask you, my faithful readers, to submit a topic you would like me to research and divulge to you next. I want my readers to be involved and engaged in Elizabeth’s fascinating history with me.

Also, I will periodically appeal to my readers to submit a potential article of their own that they would like to see featured on this site. Of course, their will be certain criteria, chief among them properly documented references to ensure accuracy, but I want to highlight the knowledge and creative talent of my fellow amateur historians.

Thank you for reading this introductory. I look forward to the growth of this site and my friendships with you all! Keep checking back frequently!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter:


  1. I indeed live in the wonderfully historical city of York (though for not much longer as I will be graduating soon)! There they have an exhibition at Barley Hall, which is very old house they have reconstructed to its 15th century foundations. There they have the dress that Cate Blanchett used in the film 'Elizabeth'. Although I am personally not a fan of the film, which I think is too heavily laden with historical inaccuracies, it was nice to see the dress that Cate Blanchett wore when trying to be her.

    Last term, I studied Elizabeth briefly as part of my comparitive special module, in which I was examining heroes and how they have been interpreted over time. Queen Bess was one of these heroes, and we came to the conclusion that like more or less, every other hero I studied on the course, she was largely responsible for her own image. We think of her as the Virgin Queen (which several talks i have been to and TV programmes I have seen have contested), but it seems this was fashioned by her.

    She has been used as a feminist symbol, even though it is her masculine qualities, and the fact that she was a warrior-queen, that she has been most remembered. The same can be said about Boudicca, an iron age queen, whose qualities may have been grossly exaggerated by Roman historians. Elizabeth I encouraged comparisons to Boudicca, in order to project her own image as a warrior-queen.

  2. I envy your current location more than anything-No place would I rather be than Yorkshire!
    Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. As a recent grad myself, I understand the combination of relief and pride you must be feeling at this great accomplishment!

    I agree with your conclusion on BOTH Blanchett films. While Cate's portrayal is fantastic, liberties are taken much too frequently, and the innacuracies are a disservice to the life of Elizabeth. I, like you, do adore the costumes from the films, though!

    As you say, Elizabeth was most certainly responsible for her image. While her father may have invented propoganda, Elizabeth perfected it!

    It is funny you mention Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni. My co-worker interprets her story and the history of the Celts resistance to the Roman occupation on a regular basis! References that survive of Boudicca have been written by her enemies, the Romans, while good "publicity" was destroyed. Like Lucrezia Borgia and Anne Boleyn, our modern concept of these remarkable women has been skewed by their enemies accounts.

    Historians are now unearthing (finally!) ample evidence of how Lucrezia was thought to be a pillar of Christian virtue in her time, and Anne WAS well liked and did much for the Protestant cause and the rural poor, as well as expanding the right to education, in her all-to brief reign.

    We look forward to visiting your blog, as York is of great interest to us!

    Thank you for visiting BeingBess ! Keep checking back, and spread the word!