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Oscar Winner, Glenda Jackson delivers the Tilbury Speech


OCCASION: Queen Elizabeth I addresses her assembled English Troops at Tilbury near London, gathered in anticipation of the Spanish Armada invasion


Date: 19TH August 1588


Length of speech in time & words: 312 words (no time recorded approximately 2 minutes)


Audience: The English Army


Central Truth: That as a woman she was ‘weaker’ than men, but she also had an internal strength that made her worthy to be a sovereign


Type: Motivational Speech


Theme: Victory will be ours


Tone: I am one of you. I will live and die with you


Specific purposes: To motivate her troops ready for battle


General purposes: To establish herself as a worthy sovereign for whom they should be willing to fight


Personal purposes: To dispel any thoughts that being a woman she was less than a King.


Opening: 5 Stars.
The aim of an opening is to immediately engage your audience. The opening to this speech is short but effective. ‘My loving people’. It sets her up as their sovereign to remind them of their duty of loyalty to her. A slight arrogance perhaps in assuming her people love her, but this would have been expected of a Queen.


Introduction: 5 stars.
The aim of an introduction is to get the audience ready for the Main Body of the speech. Here she does this by immediately bringing herself down to the level of her soldiers by telling them she is ignoring the advice she has received to stay away from such gatherings. She is determined to show that she is one of them, ready to live and die with them. Your opening sets the Tone for a speech so she immediately achieves her Personal Purpose with her opening.


Main Body: 5 stars.
She tackles directly the unspoken ‘Truth’ for her soldiers that she is just a woman, which also means their enemies will probably underestimate her. She plays to that stereotype with her statement ‘I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman’, but very cleverly then counters this with a statement that all the men, who will have encountered ‘feeble bodied’ woman with strong spirits, would appreciate – ‘but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too’. She pledges that she herself would take up arms if needs be. Through this, she is directly motivating her troops be showing her spirit and challenging them as ‘stronger men’ to match her spirit.


Conclusion: 3 stars.
Your conclusion should be the point where your theme is really brought out, making this climax of the speech so that your audience are left with a strong impression of your central message. In this speech, the conclusion part of the speech is not particularly strong. It promises that the soldiers will be paid, which is no doubt important but not the most rousing aspect of the speech. To be fair, it does then build to its final climax, stating that they would surely have a victory, but it is still not as powerful a section as the Main Body


We do not have any closing comment, such as ‘Thank you’ or ‘God’s speed’. Most likely it simply wasn’t recorded, but undoubtedly, she would have closed with something in that vain.


Since there is no recording of this speech, we cannot assess her delivery style. By all accounts she delivered the speech mounted on her horse so we imagine her delivery would have tried to be as authoritative as possible to ensure her soldiers accepted her as a worthy sovereign with the strength needed to win a war against the Spanish.




My loving people, We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood even, in the dust.


I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.


I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the meantime, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

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