"The thought of the lugubrious Bloody Mary as a bit of a goer and the exuberant Gloriana as a Puritan Maid rather taxes the imagination. "
Elizabeth I of England. The Armada Portrait by George Gower 1588
Public DomainElizabeth I of England. The Armada Portrait by George Gower 1588 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The famous portrait of Elizabeth after the victory over the Spanish Armada embodies the later image of her as Gloriana, rather than as a "Puritan Maid" and Edward's "sweet sister Temperance".  By this stage in her life, Elizabeth's image was very much more flamboyant, and powerful, as befitted a successful and popular monarch.  In the portrait, Elizabeth's right hand is seen resting on the globe, illustrating her international standing and influence.


Gloriana was the name given to the character depicting Elizabeth in Edward Spenser's poem, The Faerie Queene.  It became very popular, as applied to Elizabeth, so much so that the troops at Tilbury shouted 'Gloriana, Gloriana, Gloriana' in response to her address to them after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.


Gloriana is also the title of an opera by Benjamin Britten, first performed in 1953.  Based on Lytton Strachey's Elizabeth and Essex, it tells the story of the relationship between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester.