I’d written here once before when I first started the blog on whether Queen Elizabeth I should be considered a feminist icon (though I think it should be more aptly titled “The Dichotomous Image of Queen Elizabeth I”). She never really leaves us, her reign having such a cultural, geographical and political impact on the Western world. Recently, a group of eight European folk singers stayed for five nights at the Connington House in Hatfield, where Elizabeth Tudor had been raised. Inspired by their location, they wrote songs about Elizabeth, her reign and the time period. Recurring themes include her ruthlessness and gender discourse. Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Jim Moray, Bella Hardy, John Smith, Emily Askew, Hannah James and Rachel Newton together create a new folk supergroup to rival The Full English, in which Sam Sweeney and Nancy Kerr also partake.
Kerr returns with another powerful tune “Broadside”. The seas were dangerous in Elizabethan England, with trade routes on the sea being pirated. When wars were not fought with navies, the likes of Ireland’s Grace O’Malley fought Elizabeth by preventing trade, severely cutting funds to the crown. It was her rebellion against Elizabeth for Elizabeth’s treatment of Ireland. Unfortunately, O’Malley’s rebellion would only incite terrible retribution on Ireland after Elizabeth’s reign. The Irish Queen fights the English Queen. Queen of the Spheres and Queen of the Tide. Regalia and rebellion. O’Malley and Tudor are two sides of the same coin, both headstrong and unwavering in their convictions, yet they somehow set aside their differences, perhaps seeing themselves in the other, a mutual respect, and set aside their hatred. John Smith’s melodious guitar lick aptly mimics the sea, and Kerr’s old-style voice soars over the waves in the spirit of Elizabeth and Grace.