The Past: Alive.

Although I didn’t have any classes over the summer break and I did not do nearly as much reading as I wanted to or should have, I did not take the summer off entirely. Throughout the break between the Spring semester and the upcoming Fall semester, I’ve been accumulating multiple books, articles and research papers attempting to get ahead of the curve as I begin the daunting yet exciting prospect of beginning work on my master’s thesis. The topic I have chosen is an interesting one, and it’s been explored on many sides by many historians and biographers, but I am confident that I have a unique approach to a popular subject that can shed new light on two iconic and remarkable historical characters.

Almost anyone who knows anything about English history knows the story of of Mary Stuart (the Queen of Scots) and Elizabeth Tudor. Depending on perspective, it is a tragic narrative that seems in many ways inevitable. What makes it so interesting to me personally as a student of history is the fact that it’s morally ambiguous. Both women in some ways were wrong in their treatment of the other. And yet, at the same time, both women were also right. Mary fared poorly at the hands of her English Monarch cousin, but similarly, Elizabeth was betrayed by one of her remaining blood relations and left with arguably little choice at the outcome. The story is haunting, and my loyalty has shifted several times throughout the research process and I am certain that it will continue to flip flop as my research continues.

I’ve done so much reading already on these two iconic figures that they’ve begun appearing in my dreams. For several nights in the past couple of weeks, I remember vaguely one or both of them making a nocturnal appearance. While I can’t remember specifics, I remember the feel of their appearance and in a way, it’s a comforting one. When you dive deep into a historical figure (let alone two) you get to know them in a sense even though you’re a few centuries removed from their lives. Reading their personal correspondence to each other as well as to others allows a glimpse into their minds and reflects their attitudes and decisions as clearly centuries later as it did in the present. I welcome their continued visits throughout this process, and hope beyond all other scholarly hope that I can do the memory of them and the spirit of them justice in my work.

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