©National Archives

Plea roll portrait of Elizabeth I, 1589 This portrait is from a series that decorates the Plea Rolls of the court of the King's Bench. The initial "P" stands for the "Placita" or "plea" which was put before the monarch, and tended to be decorated with a portrait of the sovereign, in whose presence, theoretically, the proceedings were held. Judges and court officials commissioned the portraits, and they vary considerably in artistic skill and style according to the taste of the patron. Some are unique, individual miniatures, commissioned from outside artists rather than drawn by officials of the court. This portrait of Elizabeth seems to be an attempt at likeness and is comparable to other, more famous, contemporary portraits. It is dated Easter 1589.

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