Thursday, November 5, 2015

GLORIANA! The ABC's of the Reign of Our Most Gracious Sovereign Elizabeth O is for Outcomes

"I do not like wars. They have uncertain outcomes."

Any decision made by Elizabeth had an outcome.
Outcomes of her decisions could either A. Succeed.
Or B. Blow up in her royal face.

Trouble was, it wasn't just in her face it blew up
 - it could blow up in the faces of her people, too.

Little wonder the queen was slow to decide on
a. . n. . .y. . . t. . .h. . .I. . .n. . .g.
Decisions? Elizabeth made them at the speed of turtle.
She learned delaying as a tactic during her terror-
it drove her advisers absolutely batshit crazy.
When they required a straight answer, Elizabeth often turned perverse, answering in riddles and more questions.
Delay, delay, delay.
Her advisers learned to deal with it after awhile.

Nicolas Cage. Bat shit crazy yet sexy. | Beautiful Men | Pinterest
Nobody, but nobody, got anywhere in Elizabeth's court by confronting an issue head-on.

Thinking through outcomes of our decisions is just not all that big a part of present day mindsets.
Today your fellow humans often live at the speed of, and with the moral depth of, sound bites

"Wait, what?"

In the twenty-first century, impulsive choices rule.
What's an outcome?

Yeah, baby! Give in to your baser instincts - then put it up on YouTube!
In Tudor England, outcomes were harsher than the mortification of seeing yourself on your frenemy's Instagram, drunkenly climbing out of a taxi in a short skirt .
"Whoops! Lizzie faceplanted!"

Outcomes in Tudor England might mean execution.

And execution meant you were going to die hard. 
So, so much worse than when your grammy died in her sleep at the assisted-living facility.
Best case scenario?
Walking out into a crowd of several thousand people, but not in a Beyoncé concert adoring kind of way - kneeling in straw (soaked up the bodily fluids) - giving the dude with the axe some money - putting your head down on the block of wood - and sha-WING!!!
Off went your head.
You hoped.
Because if it didn't, it meant you had the shittiest headache of all time and it was about to get a whole lot worse.
Sha-WING!! again (and again) until all that pesky cartilage and spinal column came apart.
"Ouch!" and "Outcomes" both start with the same vowel blend.

Other outcomes, too - the Terrible Trio of hung, drawn and quartered (google it) saved for (non-royal) traitors, or the especially heinous sentence reserved for queens who screwed around on their husband, the king - tied to a post, with logs, kindling and tinder piled around.
A quick flick of a Bic - and poof!
Burnt alive.
Oh. My. God.
(If the executioner liked you, or you'd paid him to like you, he'd tied a little packet of gunpowder in a sachet right at your throat. Use your imagination as to why that meant he liked you.)

When court frenemies gambled with Elizabeth's life, she learned to pay very close attention.
It was no time for AD/HD.
"What? I wasn't listening to you."

When Elizabeth found herself in the middle of a shitstorm with her life on the line, she learned to zip her lip during waterboarding interrogations by her half-sister's intellectual thugs.
She was still a teen-ager, but she had to think like an adult - an adult trial lawyer, that is; and all on her own.

emma watson animated GIF
Nope. Nothing to say. Don't know. Nope.

The heat that forged her character and turned her from naïve teen to experienced self-defense expert tended to be variations on a couple of themes:
  • princess vs. bastard?
  • virgin teen vs. seducer of stepmother's horny husband?
  • loyal half-sister or plotting traitor?

Baptism by fire with nobody - nobody - to guide her, to tell her what to say, what to do, how to proceed.
The cost of saying the wrong thing?
Didn't bear thinking about.
Elizabeth made sure she didn't say the wrong thing - a lot of times by not saying anything. 

What to do when death is certain and the end is near . . .

Once Elizabeth was crowned, her advisers got right up into her shorts (not literally, of course) telling her to get married.
An unmarried queen was not, her advisers insisted, a safe or natural state of affairs.
Elizabeth thought otherwise.

"Dear God, not THAT!!!"

Negotiations with potential husband material were ongoing
messengers carrying portraits of interested men and sweetening the ears of the queen to the cause of the bridegroom by giving her something very colorful, very shiny, and of eye-popping size.
"I guess I can listen to your master's proposal. . . "

The queen listened.

She always listened, and paid flatteringly close attention. 

Then - "Tell the king of such-and-such that I will take his offer under very serious consideration." 


When the subject came up again, she'd say she was 'still thinking it over,' repeated as needed.

Eventually, the suitor rightly concluded that no answer at all was her answer. 

Outcomes were a tough call in the blood-soaked Catholic vs. Protestant issues that divided her people.
Both sides were equally firm in their intolerance of the other.
And we say YOU'RE wrong! Forever!

So Elizabeth split the difference; mass celebrated in English, bibles in English, and what the Catholics got up to in their free time was their own business.
Catholics - How to tell they're driving too fast
Catholics - whether driving too fast or secretly celebrating the Mass in their homes, it was 'don't ask/don't tell."

Direct action wasn't really the queen's style; it inevitably hurt the feelings of somebody and Elizabeth was fond of having the largest possible pool of courtiers available.

She broke up the boredom of life at court by visiting her courtiers at their homes.
A visit from the queen!
How lovely!
Except it was a case of spending insane amounts of money getting ready for her visit, and basically going broke feeding her, entertaining her, housing her, dealing with all the #1 and #2 from all the queen's households, servants, soooooo many people.  
She and her 1000+ entourage ate their host's food, drink their wine - and never paid a penny, other than tips for those working in the kitchens, the laundries, the yards, for the privilege. 

When it came to outcomes, Elizabeth learned as queen that giving people on both sides of the issue some victories, some defeats, just enough to keep them from rebelling - the kind of harmony smart mothers manage to maintain in a large family.

To Elizabeth, keeping her people safe from outside invaders, as well as safe from inside invaders like religious intolerance or fear of constant accusations of treason was a standard of her reign.
"Love you all, so very much - my people."

And - she was (mostly) successful at it.
A very satisfying outcome, indeed. 

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