Elizabeth Stanley, Countess of Derby, was the ruler of the Isle of Man from c.1612 to 1627, a tiny island in the Irish Sea that in the Medieval period was the seat of a powerful maritime kingdom ruled by Norse kings. By the Early Modern period the island was considered part of the wider British Isles but it was not part of the realm of England; rather, it was a dependent of the English crown with its own separate government exempt from acts of Parliament. As ruler of the Isle of Man, the Countess held almost limitless power. However, on the main island in her high ranking position at the English Court she was the subject of James I who reigned supreme, asserting his kingship in his writings on the divine rights of kings. In the previous century queens such as Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart prevailed as the leading powers, eliciting feelings of apprehension and disgust at the imbalance of the natural order. By the seventeenth century, with men succeeding to the thrones of the major European kingdoms, writers and scholars abandoned the discourse of the “monstrous regiment of women” and entered into a dialogue on kingship once again. With women largely displaced in the arena of high politics of the seventeenth century, Elizabeth had a unique position that contributed to and continued the explicitly Anglo dialogue on queenship.
Gabriella Gione, ’12
West St. Paul, MN
Majors: History, Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Sponsor: Kirilka Stavreva