Queen Elizabeth I's Progress to Bristol in 1574: An Examination of Expenses

  • Francis Wardell University of Bristol


When Elizabeth I visited Bristol in 1574 she was entertained by an impressive three day mock battle. Such a performance differed from the traditional protocol of using a combination of pageants and petitions. In the mayor's audit books there is record of the expenses incurred by the Bristol corporation during the queen's visit. This essay closely examines these expenses and explores how the corporation used this theatrical performance as a means of constructing a ceremonial dialogue with the queen. Throughout, the entertainment maintains an allegory of War, represented by the offensive forces, in conflict with Peace, symbolized by the defending fort. The artificial conflict concludes with the queen herself being given the role of adjudicator and administering over negotiations for a peaceful treaty. The expenses highlight how the whole affair is used as a means to display gratitude to the queen for a recent trade agreement with Spain.