UNCP historian’s book studies a powerful female leader


UNC Pembroke professor Dr. Charles Beem’s third book on English monarchs, brings together provocative essays examining various facets of Elizabethan foreign affairs and its powerful female ruler.

“The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I” (Palgrave McMillan, March 2011, 248 pgs.) is a collection of essays that seeks to shed light on a woman whose influence shaped world affairs. Collectively the essays reveal a ruler and a kingdom more connected to the wider world than is usually acknowledged.

Dr. Beem is an associate professor of history and coordinator of the British Studies minor at UNCP. His first book concerned the queens of England: “The Lioness Roared: The Problems of Female Rule in English History” (2006), and his second is a collection of essays about youthful rulers: “The Royal Minorities of Medieval and Early Modern England” (2008).

For “The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I,” Dr. Beem wrote the introduction and co-wrote the essay, “Why Elizabeth Never Left England” with Carole Levin.

Queen Elizabeth I has intrigued scholars and interest continues to grow as scholars came to look at her as a woman, Dr. Beem said. “Twentieth century scholars, by and large, fell in love with her, even when they had a hard time understanding her. The importance of gender as an analytical tool for understanding Elizabeth has been subject to scholarly scrutiny concerning its utility as an analytical category.”

“I am only interested in locating the objective truth wherever it may be found,” Dr. Beem continued. “However, I freely admit that I have invested heavily in the concept of gender as an analytical quality, which I deployed with undisguised relish in my doctoral dissertation, and revised, my first book, ‘The Lioness Roared.’

“In the introduction, I discuss the relationship between gender and Elizabeth, where I make the rather bold claim that explanations for Elizabeth’s successes and failures through time have reflected changing perceptions of socially constructed gender roles for men and women in the public spaces of civil and political societies,” Dr. Beem said.  

The book has been well received. “This collection of essays offers fresh and lively perspectives on the queen’s diplomacy and England’s foreign relations. The authors do a fine job of integrating issues of gender with England’s commercial and strategic interests,” said Susan Doran, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford.

Glenn Richardson, St. Mary’s University College stated: “This is one of the most interesting books on Elizabeth I’s international relations to appear for some time. It introduces new material and takes our view of the Elizabethan regime’s diplomacy and cultural relations well beyond Europe, where enquiries to date have largely been contained.”