On the one hand there is the "cult of Elizabeth", which presents Elizabeth very much as the capable monarch, the virtuous virgin who renounced worldly happiness for the sake of her country, and on the other hand, the scandalous rumours which asserted that Elizabeth was a nymphomaniac who presided over a court of corruption and lasciviousness.
It was asserted, amongst other things, that the Queen used malevolent powers to seduce the men, even women, around her; would have those who refused her advances beheaded; and had secretly mothered many children.
According to Constance Pratt, an entire legend emerged asserting that the real Princess Elizabeth was supplanted by a male or hermaphrodite imposter when she unexpectedly died of a childhood illness.
It is unclear whether this belief was present during Elizabeth's own lifetime, or was a posthumous development.
There is virtually no aspect of the Queen's life and reign that has not received comment and counter-comment.
Her personal character has been debated, her physical appearance and physiological composition, her attitude towards marriage and children, and her relationship with her courtiers.Elizabeth Tudor is undoubtedly one of the most famous English monarchs.Her life and reign have inspired many biographies, histories, novels, and dramatic works.However, it is uncertain to what degree the crimes of the mother were held against the daughter in England.If Elizabeth had an infamous mother, then she had a famous father, and her paternity may have been sufficient to prevent such a vehement hatred of her in England.Yet, by treading cautiously through this melange, tracing as far as possible the origin and development of various trains of thought, in the process extricating both prevarications and truths, it is perhaps possible to get closer to what Elizabeth was really like as a person and a monarch.But the history of Elizabeth's reputation is a subject of interest in itself.If Lacey Baldwin Smith asserts that in this respect Elizabeth is a "Queen of Addiction" (1), she is also a "Queen of contention".She may have gone down in the annals of history as "Good Queen Bess", but this epithet belies the fact that her character and reign have been exposed to profound debate over the centuries.It is not only the history of one woman, the way she was perceived by her people and subsequent generations, but the history of literature, of art, of politics, of religion, and culture, for each generation writes its own history, and they write it according to their understandings of the world, their experiences and expectations.To begin with, the Queen's reputation in her own life time, can perhaps give an interesting insight into sixteenth century life - their values and beliefs, attitudes towards monarchy, religion, sex and marriage, and the role of women in society.