Elizabethan government

PARIS: I think that the basic structure of the Elizabethan government is relatively sound. The division of power between the monarchy, the privy council, and the parliament all seem to work.

Elizabethan government was that in England under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603). Her government was extremely structured and complex, and made up of:

The Monarch – Queen Elizabeth herself, who ruled by divine right. She is generally regarded as one of England’s best monarchs, which is probably why Paris thinks her government would be the best to emulate.

The Privy Council – the queen’s advisors. They gave advice to the queen, but she could rule against them if she preferred. They handled routine administration.

Parliament – was made up of the House of Lords (nobility and upper level clergy) and The House of Commons (ordinary people who were elected to their position). Unlike today, it had very little power, and was mostly there to handle the financial side of things, such as taxes.

Local government – very important in Elizabethan times. Counties, cities, and towns all had their own governments to deal with issues on a local level, while the nobility ran their own manors.

Courts – the justice system was made up of a number of courts, all dealing with different types of crimes, from the most serious offences to petty matters. The wealthy and the poor had different court systems to try them, and there were separate courts for financial and religious issues.

The Queen of England

EMILY (showing Lorelai a hat): Oh, isn’t this lovely?
LORELAI: Oh, yeah. As soon as we have her crowned Queen of England we’ll give it to her.

The throne of England actually came to an end in 1707; after this the kingdoms of England and Scotland merged into the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801 this merged with the Irish kingdom to become the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After most of Ireland left the union, its name was changed to the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, otherwise known as the United Kingdom. The last Queen of England was Queen Anne (1665-1714; became queen in 1702).

The Queen of the United Kingdom is Elizabeth II (born 1926), which was also the case in 2000. By tradition, the Queen (like other royals and the upper classes generally) always wears a hat in public during formal occasions. That’s probably why Lorelai connects hat-wearing with royalty. Her opinion is not shared by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who is a notorious wearer of hats.

Henry the Eighth

MAX (looking at Lorelai’s table at the bake sale): Very Henry the Eighth.

Henry VIII (1491-1547) was King of England from 1509 until his death. He is known for his lavish feasts with every delicacy imaginable, as a demonstration of his wealth and power. It may have been Sookie’s swan carved out of watermelon that made Max think of Henry VIII – a centrepiece of the banquets was food made to look like something completely different, such as a peacock made from marzipan.