Speech to the Troops at Tilbury by Queen Elizabeth I

The intention of Queen Elizabeth’s the I speech was to rally the troops for the battle at Tilbury. The soldiers were meant to feel the inspiration and the love that Queen Elizabeth the I had for her people and that she was unwilling to give up in the face of battle.

Queen Elizabeth has the appeal of ethos just by her nature and who she is as queen. She has the respect and authority over England and her subjects give her the credibility to which she has over them. The soldiers and the people trust her to guide them to victory in the battle and her speech inspires the soldiers to trust Queen Elizabeth the I with their lives.

The style that Queen Elizabeth uses is in the repetition in the phrase “my people”. She repeats this phrase to emphasize the connection and love she has with her subjects and to remind them that she cares for them deeply. She chooses to say this phrase, over any other way of addressing, to say that she is one of them and will put her people first before any other.

A favorite quote of mine was,“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” This statement that Queen Elizabeth said brought to the attention of the troops that she knew her weakness, but was stronger than it. She could lead with the skills of a king for the prosperity of her troops.

–Addy Nichols


Audience: The audience of this piece is the people of England, whom Queen Elizabeth I rules over.  She is aware of her audience and establishes a relationship with them by referring to them as her “faithful and loving people” (280).  She connects herself to her people by using the pronoun “we” quite often throughout her speech: “We have been persuaded…” (279), “…we shall shortly have a famous victory…” (280).  By using this pronoun, Queen Elizabeth I places herself on the same emotional level of her people and shows them that they are all going through this battle together.  She even offers to “take up arms” (280) and go into battle with them; she is leveling herself with the people and showing them that she is willing to fight just like they are.  Queen Elizabeth I effectively connects herself to the audience and establishes a trust with them, which makes her speech all the more influential.

Quotation: “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman: but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…” (280). This quote is important in building Queen Elizabeth I’s credibility as a military leader to her people.  Yes, she is a woman.  This does not mean, however, that she will be a weak leader in the battle at Tilbury.  She possesses the “heart and stomach of a king” which shows the mental strength she has as a leader.  Queen Elizabeth I compares herself to a king because men are often thought of as more traditional figures when it comes to war, and she wants to be viewed this way as well.  Queen Elizabeth I reveals her masculine side by referring to herself as a king; she refuses to identify herself with the weak physical nature of women, which would not be viewed as desirable in a time of battle.

Context: This speech was written and delivered during a time of war.  The Spanish Armada was a group of 130 ships intending to escort an army from Flanders to invade England.  They were trying to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I in hope to stop English interference in the Spanish Netherlands.  Since it is a time of war, people are scared and concerned about how they will be affected.  Queen Elizabeth I designed this speech to give high hopes to her troops in the upcoming battle and to provide reassurance and love for her citizens.  She recognizes the worry within her country and therefore consoles them in saying “We shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people” (280).

—Vanessa Petranek

Queen Elizabeth’s intention for this speech was to address her troops and inspire them to fight with heart and courage for the freedom and love of the people of England.

In the opening lines of her speech, Queen Elizabeth uses the appeal to pathos by referring to her people as loving. To her troops, this was to be a reminder for them that their loyal queen was counting on them to remain gallant and brave as they faced the Spanish Armada. She also compares to her faith in her people to her faith in God. To her audience members at home, reading her speech would persuade them to join the war effort and support England’s troops.

One of my favorite quotations from this speech is, “I have always so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chief strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst of the heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust.” I love this quote because it shows the courage of Elizabeth herself, as she states she would be willing die for her country in battle, as should her troops.

Queen Elizabeth also has ethos by her ranking of queen of England. She knows that in writing this speech, she must convey her power and authority, while at the same time, convey herself as an equal to her people. She executes this challenge with complete grace as she wins over the hearts of her nation.

–Maria Schroeder

Queen Elizabeth I appeals to pathos by creating a relationship with her citizens.  Elizabeth repeatedly addresses the people as, “my loving people,” and, “my people.” These terms of endearment help bring out a sense of frienship and rapport between Elizabeth and her people.  Elizabeth says she would die for her people and further strengthens her relationship with her people.  The citizens are more likely to be rallied into war when they are dealing with someone they trust rather than an isolated and detached Queen.

Elizabeth proves her intention by verbally giving the speech.  If the speech were written, it would lose the tone, voice and inevitably the power it has.  The speech is also meaningful because by physically being in front of the troops, she proves her willingness to die for them like she said.  It is easy to lose meaning and power when something is written and then read by someone else because they will very rarely put the same inflection and read the paper the same way as the original author.  Elizabeth recited her speech herself which is why it was so influential.  The other part of Elizabeth physically being in front of the troops was her being on a horseback while the rest of the troops were on the ground.  Elizabeth was on a higher platform which proved her superiority and power over the people. These two things could be lost if written and not recited properly.

The third strategy Elizabeth used to rally her people was her status as a Queen.  Elizabeth used her knowledge that the people would more likely trust someone they had a relationship with than a detached Queen, so she built a relationship with her people.  But, Elizabeth also used the knowledge that during this time, the people would trust a King more than they would a Queen.  To make herself seem like a King she said, “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too.”  These word most likely made the troops trust her even more.

–Samantha Smith

This speech was influential in two ways. First, the army was seeing their monarch face-to-face and hearing directly from her. Secondly, the British army was trying to regain naval superiority, and were using a new style of ship that had not been tested in combat before. Queen Elizabeth had to address these tensions as well as spur on her army to battle.

Queen Elizabeth establishes an “us vs. them” mentality to create reinforce the reason for the battle. She refers to the English consistently as “my people” and “my loving people,” gaining their support by assuming she already has it.

She tells her audience that she “has the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England, too,” but always refers to the European monarchs as “princes.” This diminutive alleges English superiority and builds Queen Elizabeth’s ethos as a stronger authority.

–Rachel Meyer

Queen Elizabeth adopts a male persona, thus downplaying her femininity (“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman”) to appeal to the ethos of her male audience.

The context of the speech is significant because it takes place just before battle, when the audience is likely nervous and excited. The timing of her delivery therefore appeals to pathos.

Queen Elizabeth says, “I am come amongst you, you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst of the heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust.” The parallelism in this sentence (consistently using “my”) emphasizes its meaning. Although she establishes herself as the fearless leader of the people in other parts of the speech, she also establishes herself as her people’s fearless equal in this sentence.

–Sophie Dahlquist


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