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Offbeat Handwriting in Roman manuscript suggests Queen Elizabeth I translated Tacitus's Annals

05:47  30 november  2019
05:47  30 november  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

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A manuscript translation of Tacitus ’ s Annals preserved at Lambeth Palace Library was completed by none other than Elizabeth I , the study has revealed. The translated text, which was completed in the late 16th century, had a number of similarities with the queen ’s handwriting , a former researcher at

Queen Elizabeth I was behind a late 16th century manuscript translation detailing the history of Elizabeth I ’ s translation focuses on the first book of the Annales, which sees the death of Augustus and the rise of the emperor Tiberius, based on original works by Roman historian and senator Tacitus .

  Handwriting in Roman manuscript suggests Queen Elizabeth I translated Tacitus's Annals © Provided by The i

Any leader worth their salt should be well-versed in the classics - the stories and histories from Rome and ancient Greece - and in particular the infighting amongst Rome’s Emperors.

Now a study has found that one of Britain’s greatest monarchs - Queen Elizabeth I - was indeed a Roman history buff.

It is now believed that the Virgin Queen, renowned for saying she had the heart and stomach of a king, is behind a manuscript translation of Tacitus’s Annals.

The work by the Roman historian details the history of the Roman Empire from AD14-68.

Handwriting similarities

A manuscript translation of Tacitus’s Annals preserved at Lambeth Palace Library was completed by none other than Elizabeth I, the study has revealed.

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Queen Elizabeth I was behind a late 16th century manuscript translation detailing the history of Elizabeth I ’ s translation focuses on the first book of the Annales, which sees the death of Augustus and the rise of the emperor Tiberius, based on original works by Roman historian and senator Tacitus .

Elizabeth Tacitus details the history of the Roman Empire (Lambeth Palace Library). Analysing key indicators such as handwriting and paper stock, experts determined that the monarch who ruled Researchers believe Queen Elizabeth I translated the 16th century manuscript (Philip Toscano/PA).

The translated text, which was completed in the late 16th century, had a number of similarities with the queen’s handwriting, a former researcher at East Anglia University said.

To gather his findings, John-Mark Philo, now of the Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies, analysed several of the manuscript’s characteristics, such as its paper stock, style and handwriting.

a close up of text on a white background© Provided by The i

He found several similarities linking the text and Elizabeth I’s handwriting, including an extremely horizontal ‘m’, the top stroke of her ‘e’ and a break in the stem of ‘d’.

He said the paper - which featured watermarks of a rampant lion and the initials ‘GB’ with a crossbow countermark - also suggested a court context.

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Queen Elizabeth I had messy handwriting . Queen Elizabeth I ’ s translation of Tacitus , dated to the late 16th century. Photo: Lambeth Palace. Tracing the reference to the Lambeth Palace manuscript has further fleshed out the life of this ground-breaking monarch, whose interest in

Hand of the Queen : 'Messy' handwriting exposes Elizabeth I as the translator of a 17th Century Tacitus manuscript detailing the history of the Roman Empire. A translation of a work by Roman Tacitus was handwritten by Queen Elizabeth I .

According Dr Philo, the crossbow was especially popular with the Elizabethan secretariat in the 1590s, while Elizabeth used paper with the same markings in both her translation of Boethius and personal correspondence.

He added the tone and style also matched the queen’s earlier known works and that she had been able to retain “the density of Tacitus’s prose and brevity”.

However, the translation style followed the contours of the Latin syntax so strictly that it was at risk of “obscuring the sense in English”, Dr Philo noted.

Important implications

“The Queen’s handwriting was, to put it mildly, idiosyncratic and the same distinctive features which characterise her late hand are also to be found in the Lambeth manuscript,” he said.

“As the demands of her governance increased, her script sped up, and as a result some letters such a ‘m’ and ‘n’ became almost horizontal strokes, while others, including her ‘e’ and ‘d’, broke apart.

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A manuscript written by Queen Elizabeth I has been discovered after lying unnoticed for more than a century. The work is a translation of a book in which the Roman historian Tacitus wrote of the benefits of monarchical rule. It was while searching in the library for translations of Tacitus that Dr

Researchers here identified the paper used for the Tacitus translation , which suggests a court context. The translation was copied on paper The tone and style of the translation also matches earlier known works of Elizabeth I . The Lambeth manuscript retains the density of Tacitus ’ s prose

“These distinctive features serve as essential diagnostics in identifying the queen’s work.”

Queen Elizabeth I  - Portrait of the Queen of England 1533 -1603  (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)© 2013 Culture Club Queen Elizabeth I - Portrait of the Queen of England 1533 -1603 (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

Dr Philo, whose findings have been published the Review of English Studies, said it marked the first substantial work by Elizabeth I to emerge in more than a century.

He added the document had important implications for how we understand the politics and culture of the Elizabethan court.

He said the importance of the queen’s engagement with Tacitus lay in the fact that during this period, one was expected to take from classical history examples to be applied to one’s own life.

Dr Philo added it was not hard to imagine why the first book of the Annals in particular might have appealed to the queen.

This is because it shows the disintegration of the old Roman republic and the emergence of a monarchical form of government which was able to bring stability to a Rome exhausted by civil war.

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