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Discussion: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?Reported This is a featured thread

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antoinette2
antoinette2
Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 5:33 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 5:33 PM EDT
I have read some books that postuate Elizabeth was in some ways, sexually ...different. That she had remnants of a womb and also a penis. Of course, there really isn't anyways to prove it. I think it simply demonstrates how little we really will ever know of the mercurial Elizabeth and her Tudor baggage. 2  out of 5 found this valuable. Do you?    
Keyword tags: hermaphrodite
SemperEadem
SemperEadem
1. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 6:02 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 6:53 PM EDT
I've read these, too, and believe it to be rather ridiculous. These theories can often be traced back to anti-Elizabeth factions with either a political or religious axe to grind, just as Mary has opponents who make similarly sexually charged ridiculous claims. Sexually based claims about historical figures are a common occurrence in most fields, and it often has more to do with demasculating or defeminizing a person to achieve a type of cheap victory over them, whether they were truly deformed (as is often not), truly evil, or truly nice. Think about our obsessions with the sexual attributes of people like Hitler and Napoleon. People often debate their sexual deformities as if this will explain the person. *Smacks head* *Oh, so he had a small ******, THAT explains it* Whatever IT is, although I've found it is not so easy to wheedle it down to just IT. ;-)

I noticed that these theories also popped up again in the 1950s. One such fella's best reasoning was that because Elizabeth never married, well, obviously, she must have been sexually deformed. It's a reflection of misogynist times.
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sweetladyjaneseymour
sweetladyjaneseymour
2. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 6:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 6:07 PM EDT
What books were they? This is the weirdest thing i've ever heard. I'm not saying its completely wrong but it just seems an odd thing for people to claim without having any proof. Can't hermaphrodites be brought up either as a girl or boy? I'm sure if Henry knew she had a penis he would have assumed she was a boy and if he knew she was a hermaphrodite he would have used it against Anne as evidence of her being a witch. 3  out of 4 found this valuable. Do you?    
MsSquirrly
MsSquirrly
3. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 6:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 6:07 PM EDT
"I have read some books that postuate Elizabeth was in some ways, sexually ...different. That she had remnants of a womb and also a penis. Of course, there really isn't anyways to prove it. I think it simply demonstrates how little we really will ever know of the mercurial Elizabeth and her Tudor baggage."
well I don't believe there is one scintilla of contemporary evidence to prove this postulation. There is an interesting bit at encyclopedia.com :

"hermaphrodite - The idea of the hermaphrodite who has fully functioning male and female organs and is (theoretically) capable of self-fertilization is a myth, though a very persistent one, which has long exercised a fascination over the human mind. It provided a way of thinking about and transgressing the binary division between the sexes, and may have externalized and isolated less coherent ideas about the existence of contrary sexual characteristics in both sexes and about innate bisexuality....

The idea of hermaphroditism has been invoked to explain homosexuality. Abandoning a simple physical explanation, nineteenth-century sexologists projected a disjunction between external appearance and internal sense of self. Thus (echoing Elizabeth I's claim to have the ‘heart and stomach of a man’ within the body of a ‘weak and feeble’ woman) the homosexual or ‘invert’ was believed to have the spirit of one sex inside the body of the other."

I think we all know what Elizabeth meant when she said that and it didnt have anything to do with her actual sexuality. It was more to do with her gender. She lived at a time when women were inferior to men, even women believed this and she would have too.. But she felt she was different. She would be so surprised if she came back in todays world where women feel they are equal to men. It would have been a totally foreign concept to her.

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SemperEadem
SemperEadem
4. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 6:13 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 6:22 PM EDT
"What books were they? This is the weirdest thing i've ever heard. I'm not saying its completely wrong but it just seems an odd thing for people to claim without having any proof. Can't hermaphrodites be brought up either as a girl or boy? I'm sure if Henry knew she had a penis he would have assumed she was a boy and if he knew she was a hermaphrodite he would have used it against Anne as evidence of her being a witch."
One was Theodore Maynard's 1943 Queen Elizabeth and 195?s Bloody Mary. He reported that Elizabeth was sexually deformed (and thus, that helped her rule...she wasn't actually female! Duh! Because a woman couldn't possibly be that successful!), that Mary can be pitied because she acted the way a woman should (adored her husband, etc., and thus, she was ultimately a failure, because she was a woman and rightly let her feminine nature lead her), and Lady Jane Grey was priggish because she would not meet with her husband before their execution (never mind the fact she was forced into the marriage).

Like I said, a very misogynist book. And I got to read them for a historiography paper. Yay for horrible history! Lol. I like to think of these three ladies beating him soundly when they met him in the afterlife.
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SemperEadem
SemperEadem
5. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 6:18 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2009, 6:38 AM EDT
As a side note, if you want to read about the sad life of a real hermaphrodite, you should look for a copy of "Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth Century French Hermaphrodite." Get a copy with the intro by Michel Foucault. It was an intriguing read, and I felt so sorry for the person who wrote it!

Honestly, if Elizabeth was male, someone would have noticed when they inspected her in one of the many times to check to see if she was capable of bearing children still, lol. Of course, identifying an hermaphrodite is not always so easy as identifying it on the outside of the body, but still, I see this more as pure conjecture.
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Jes89
Jes89
6. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 6:49 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 6:49 PM EDT
"One was Theodore Maynard's 1943 Queen Elizabeth and 195?s Bloody Mary. He reported that Elizabeth was sexually deformed (and thus, that helped her rule...she wasn't actually female! Duh! Because a woman couldn't possibly be that successful!), that Mary can be pitied because she acted the way a woman should (adored her husband, etc., and thus, she was ultimately a failure, because she was a woman and rightly let her feminine nature lead her), and Lady Jane Grey was priggish because she would not meet with her husband before their execution (never mind the fact she was forced into the marriage).

Like I said, a very misogynist book. And I got to read them for a historiography paper. Yay for horrible history! Lol. I like to think of these three ladies beating him soundly when they met him in the afterlife."
Wow, Thank you for posting this Semper, nw i know that this is an book i can't read because i know that i'll become angry!!
Elizabeth was a woman, and we must be proud that she prove tha t a woman could rule much better than a man(as she proved in comparation with Henry)and i 'm sure that Mary proved to be not submissive when she denied philip to rule england.So i definitely can't read this.
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frogy23
7. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 7:11 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 7:11 PM EDT
I've gotta admit the title of this thread really caught my attention. My first reaction is that it sounds like someone was trying to paint her as a bit butch because she never married and had such a strong personality. But we'll never know, will we? 2  out of 2 found this valuable. Do you?    
s.rochie
s.rochie
8. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 6 2009, 11:16 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 6 2009, 11:16 PM EDT
Yes, it is nonsense. Wasn't there an incident, anyway, in which the baby Elizabeth was displayed to ambassadors without clothes? If there had been anything anatomical different we can be certain those eagle-eyed gentlemen would have noticed and commented on it in their letters. Also, if there had been any trace of a penis, Henry would have claimed her as his longed-for male heir.
There are a few historians, usually men, who contemplate this theory - as if any woman who chooses not to be married or sexually active must have some kind of physical oddness about her to explain the fact. As SemperEadem rightly says, 'It's a reflection of misogynist times.'
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BoleynGirl
BoleynGirl
9. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 7 2009, 1:10 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2009, 1:10 AM EDT
"Can't hermaphrodites be brought up either as a girl or boy? I'm sure if Henry knew she had a penis he would have assumed she was a boy and if he knew she was a hermaphrodite he would have used it against Anne as evidence of her being a witch."
yes .true........I find this rediculous......A hermaphrodite???
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Reggie19
10. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 7 2009, 6:24 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2009, 6:24 AM EDT
WHAT? Of all the bizarre theories i've heard, this one takes the biscuit! 1  out of 1 found this valuable. Do you?    
lettice
lettice
11. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 7 2009, 8:35 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2009, 8:35 AM EDT
"What books were they? This is the weirdest thing i've ever heard. I'm not saying its completely wrong but it just seems an odd thing for people to claim without having any proof. Can't hermaphrodites be brought up either as a girl or boy? I'm sure if Henry knew she had a penis he would have assumed she was a boy and if he knew she was a hermaphrodite he would have used it against Anne as evidence of her being a witch."
There are so many types of hermaphrodites, including true and psuedo. I think the theory is off (IMO), but for discussion sake, in some instances "her condition" would have been recognized at birth, as she would have had both genatailia. In other types of hermaphroditism, she would have been externally female & internally male (or vice versa) & in other instances she could have had ambiguous genetailia (ie: Is this baby male or female?)
I believe Elizabeth was truly female as according to her Ladies in Waiting, she had normal courses.
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Jes89
Jes89
12. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 7 2009, 9:23 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2009, 9:23 AM EDT
this is a rumor against her for her enemies... 3  out of 4 found this valuable. Do you?    
CarolineZ
CarolineZ
13. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 7 2009, 9:30 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 7 2009, 9:30 AM EDT
I read somewhere that MQOS wrote to her about rumors she had heard about Elizabeth having male & female organs. I think MQOS was ostensibly telling her cousin about potential damaging gossip, but I got the feeling that she was really just trying to give her a dig. 0  out of 2 found this valuable. Do you?    
lettice
lettice
14. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 11 2009, 8:13 AM EDT | Post edited: Aug 11 2009, 8:13 AM EDT
"I read somewhere that MQOS wrote to her about rumors she had heard about Elizabeth having male & female organs. I think MQOS was ostensibly telling her cousin about potential damaging gossip, but I got the feeling that she was really just trying to give her a dig."
It's not out of the realm of possibility, however, how was Mary privy to that info?
There certainly was no love lost between Mary & Elizabeth & MQOS resented that she was not named Elizabet's heir.
Years ago, when I was working as a nurse, I saw a child who was a hermaphrodite. Genetically, she was male, but because she had a normal vagina at birth, she was raised as a girl. As she grew from infancy, her penis started to grow (from the clitoral area) & her parents had her hospitilized for surgery to remove the penis (at around age 5) as she was being raised female. The surgery also would involve removing the testes which were growing internally.
I never forgot this child and how she looked & I believe if Elizabeth had such a condition, it wouldn't have gone unnoticed.
I believe all these rumors came about because Elizabeth did not want to marry. Back then, if you were female & had no wish to marry, then something had to be wromg with you.
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luvprue2
luvprue2
15. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 11 2009, 9:21 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 11 2009, 9:21 PM EDT
"I have read some books that postuate Elizabeth was in some ways, sexually ...different. That she had remnants of a womb and also a penis. Of course, there really isn't anyways to prove it. I think it simply demonstrates how little we really will ever know of the mercurial Elizabeth and her Tudor baggage."
..I read the same story on another website about Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth wasn't a hermaphrodite. Elizabeth's half sister Mary was present at her birth. If Elizabeth was a hermaphrodite, it would have been well known. However , when Elizabeth was born, Henry VIII showed her off to the courtier,and ambassador at court completely nude to show (or rather prove) that she was perfectly formed. so no,Elizabeth was not a hermaphrodite. However, I do question the reason why Henry VIII felt the need to show Elizabeth off nude, when he had never did that with his other children. Hmm?
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Nofretete
Nofretete
16. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Aug 11 2009, 9:38 PM EDT | Post edited: Aug 11 2009, 9:38 PM EDT
"It's not out of the realm of possibility, however, how was Mary privy to that info?
There certainly was no love lost between Mary & Elizabeth & MQOS resented that she was not named Elizabet's heir.
Years ago, when I was working as a nurse, I saw a child who was a hermaphrodite. Genetically, she was male, but because she had a normal vagina at birth, she was raised as a girl. As she grew from infancy, her penis started to grow (from the clitoral area) & her parents had her hospitilized for surgery to remove the penis (at around age 5) as she was being raised female. The surgery also would involve removing the testes which were growing internally.
I never forgot this child and how she looked & I believe if Elizabeth had such a condition, it wouldn't have gone unnoticed.
I believe all these rumors came about because Elizabeth did not want to marry. Back then, if you were female & had no wish to marry, then something had to be wromg with you."
A little off topic, but that hermaphrodite child you saw... Wouldn't it have been better to wait with a surgery until the child was old enough or an adult to make the decision him/herself? I understand that the practice of surgery is highly controversial nowadays.
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elizabethtudorrose
elizabethtudorrose
17. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Sep 3 2009, 3:07 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 3 2009, 3:07 PM EDT
I saw a program on Hermaphrodtes. I don't know if it was a BBC/PBS, 60 minutes, or a show on cable. It showed several children who had been err, 'cropped' as children and raised as females, when inside they felt male. It was a good show and I bet if you Googled it, you'd find the program I saw. I wish I could remember the name of it, but I came in after it had started. It was either on DSC, HIST, or lifetime...I cannot remember. Sorry.

Regards,
ETR
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SnowWhiteQueen
18. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Sep 3 2009, 3:48 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 3 2009, 3:48 PM EDT
That is an interesting theory. I don't personally think she was, but I wouldn't rule out her having been asexual. 1  out of 1 found this valuable. Do you?    
tudorcrazy
tudorcrazy
19. RE: Was Elizabeth a hermaphrodite?
Sep 19 2010, 6:56 PM EDT | Post edited: Sep 19 2010, 6:56 PM EDT
"Yes, it is nonsense. Wasn't there an incident, anyway, in which the baby Elizabeth was displayed to ambassadors without clothes? If there had been anything anatomical different we can be certain those eagle-eyed gentlemen would have noticed and commented on it in their letters. Also, if there had been any trace of a penis, Henry would have claimed her as his longed-for male heir.
There are a few historians, usually men, who contemplate this theory - as if any woman who chooses not to be married or sexually active must have some kind of physical oddness about her to explain the fact. As SemperEadem rightly says, 'It's a reflection of misogynist times.'"
I think she never married because her father executed her mother. That would sure keep me from marriage, especially if I was queen. She most certainly could have technically been a virgin, but IMO she certainly had plenty of opportunity for sexual play. That all seems normal to me. They used to say her Mother was deformed too.
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