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Madam BritanniaWomen, Church, and Nation 1712-1812$
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Emma Major

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199699377

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699377.001.0001

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The History of Madam Britannia

The History of Madam Britannia

Chapter:
(p.23) 1 The History of Madam Britannia
Source:
Madam Britannia
Author(s):

Emma Major

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699377.003.0002

This chapter explores the history of Britannia. It looks at her many representations on coins, prints, medallions, and argues that she became an important means of uniting the country under William and May following the Glorious Revolution, and then again under Anne after the Act of Union in 1707. It contends that Britannia became entwined with Elizabeth I and British queens, and also with depictions of the Church of England as female. Britannia was popularised through theatres, masques, pleasure-gardens, and exhibitions, and her evolving depictions are explored from Roman times to 1800. The chapter concludes with a discussion of John Flaxman’s plans to erect a truly colossal Britannia at Greenwich in celebration of naval successes, and explores reasons why Britannia might be a less powerful figure in 1799.

Keywords:   Britannia, church, Elizabeth I, John Bull, William Camden, Poly-Olbion, Albion, John Flaxman

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