Politics of Equivocation and Deferral: Queen Elizabeth I and the Execution of Queen Mary of Scotland

Nabanita Chakraborty

Assistant Professor, Hansraj College, University of Delhi. Email:

Volume 8, Number 4, 2016 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n4.08

Received October 29, 2016; Revised December 21, 2016; Accepted December 25, 2016; Published January 14, 2017


Equivocation, indecisiveness and delay in action have often been viewed pejoratively in a world dominated by the discourse of rationality, dynamic individual action and potentiality. My article argues that procrastination and equivocation can be political strategies to avoid exigencies in the state. To elaborate my argument, a speech of Queen Elizabeth I deferring the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, November 24, 1586 has been closely analyzed to examine how rhetoric of ambiguity and deferral  act as diplomatic and prudent approaches to promote peace and respond to political exigency in early-modern England. This article concludes that Queen Elizabeth’s political statesmanship lies in understanding the dynamics of power related to voluntary inaction rather than to violent action.

 Keywords: deferral, equivocation, politics, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary of Scotland

Full Text PDF>>

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Google Plus