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Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

Bess Throckmorton became pregnant in summer 1591, 3 years after the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth was unaware of the pregnancy, and didn't discover Bess and Raleigh's secret marriage until 1592, several months after their child, Damerei, was born. The infant died very soon after, during Walter Raleigh's imprisonment in the Tower of London.

Anachronisms 

A prisoner is executed by the "long drop" hanging method; the length of rope, type of knot, and height of the drop are all calculated according to the victim's weight and height, so that their neck is broken instantly. That method was developed in 1872. Before that, people due to be hanged were stood upon a cart, horse, stool, ladder, or something similar, which was then be moved out from under them, leaving them to die by strangulation.
Raleigh's introduction of the potato to court is pure fiction. Spanish Conquistadores learned of the potato from the Peruvian natives who had cultivated it millennia, and introduced the potato to Europe in 1570, while Walter Raleigh was at Oxford. Moreover, Raleigh calls the potato by its Spanish name, "patata".
Eric XIV is said to be King of Sweden in 1585. In fact he was murdered by poison in 1568, almost 20 years before the film is set. It was his half-brother Johan III who ruled Sweden from 1568 to 1592.
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Queen Mary's dog is a West Highland White (Westie), which first appeared in Scotland in the 19th century.
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When the priest replies to a letter from Mary, Queen Of Scots, he uses a modern quill pen with a ball-point tip.
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Several times, Elizabeth's nails are manicured in 18th-century French style.
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A Spanish lumberjack uses a double-bitted axe to chop down a tree. This was invented in the United States in the 1870s.
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Elizabeth's sidesaddle is shown to have two horns, or "pommels." Sidesaddles of this time had only one pommel, the upper, which held the right leg in place. The lower pommel, which wraps over the left leg, is called a "leaping pommel," and was not invented until the 1830s.
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When Elizabeth speaks with another character with a fireplace in the background, blue gas flames are visible at the bottom of the fire, notably in the bottom right corner.
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In 1585, Charles II, Archduke of Austria, was 45, married to his niece Maria Anna of Bavaria and already had 11 of their 15 children.
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Continuity 

When Elizabeth walks to mass after Walter Raleigh lays his coat down, Bess Throckmorton is right behind the queen. In the next shot, she's at the end of the line, then behind the queen again.
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Errors in geography 

Before each scene in Fotheringay, where Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned, the castle is surrounded by high, snow-capped Scottish mountains. Fotheringay is in Northamptonshire, one of the flattest counties in England.
The fire ship battle took place off the coast of France, not England. No Spanish ship caught fire or was lost, but the use of fire ship's did cause the Spanish fleet to disperse and become disorganised prior to the final Battle of Gravelines.
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Queen Elizabeth watches the Armada burn from a cliff near her camp at Tilbury. But Tilbury is in the Thames Estuary, far from where the action seems to be taking place, and a long way from anywhere with the dramatic jagged rocks Elizabeth stands on.
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Dr. John Dee is shown advising Elizabeth shortly before the Armada invasion of 1588. Historically, Dee spent 1583-89 traveling in mainland Europe.
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Factual errors 

The real Babington Plot, to assassinate Queen Elizabeth at the altar, was thwarted in the planning stages. The dramatic confrontation shown in the film is pure fiction.
William Cecil, dismissed by Elizabeth at the end of Elizabeth, actually remained a close adviser of the Queen during the events depicted in the film.
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English Admiral Lord Howard said he was losing ships, and was out gunned by the Spanish. However, it was the English ships who out gunned the Spanish, and no ships were lost to either side.
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When the suitors show the portrait of Eric XIV of Sweden, they show the wrong painting. The real painting, by Steven van der Meulen in 1561, shows Eric's full body in red and gold dress.
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Walter Raleigh was not in the battle against the Armada. In 1588 he was in Ireland, out of favor with Elizabeth I. The movie conflates his role with that of Admiral Francis Drake who organized the fire ship attack that dispersed the Spanish Armada.
When Elizabeth gave her speech to the troops, she rode sidesaddle. Her speech was also given several days after the fire ship battle and the final Battle of Gravelines.
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Mary Stuart speaks with a Scots accent in the film, but she was well known to speak with a French accent throughout her life. In the DVD commentary, the director explains that this was a choice the actress made after discussing the options.
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In the film, Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain is a young child. She was 19 when the movie's time period began and 22 at the end.
Raleigh announces that he has just returned from the New World, and has named the land he discovered "Virginia" after Elizabeth. Walter Raleigh sent a mission to establish a settlement in 1584; he never set foot in the New World during this time period. Secondly, "Virginia" was derived from the name of the Roanoke Colony chief Wingina, which was modified by Elizabeth to "Virginia" after her own title.
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As with most historical biopics, some of the events did not occur exactly as they are portrayed in the film, or may have happened at a different time. Some did not take place at all and are included purely for dramatic purposes.
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The trees being chopped down in large numbers to build King Philipps Fleet are clearly some kind of coniferous wood, which is highly unsuitable for building ships and was not used at all for this purpose. They would rather have used oak-wood for this, and it is a known fact that large numbers of the great oak forests in some European countries were completely lumbered down for its precious woods.
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Mary, Queen of Scots, is played here by Samantha Morton who is only 5'3". In life, Mary was actually 6 feet tall, quite tall for a woman of her time. Elizabeth I was 5'8" (something she bragged about to an ambassador stating she was the perfect height while Mary was too tall), also tall for the time and Cate Blanchett, who plays her is also 5'8".
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

The matter of Walter Raleigh and "Virginia" is very confusing to people unaware of the historical context. Each American schoolchild is taught that England's first colony in Virginia was Jamestown in 1607, but in the movie Raleigh says he has set up a colony in Virginia in 1585. In fact, the land to which Raleigh applied the name Virginia was what we call North Carolina. After his "Roanoke, Virginia" failed due to the Spanish embargo (resulting in the "Lost Colony" mystery which has inspired many books and movies), the names Virginia and Roanoke were transferred northward to new locations.
Like so many biopics about Elizabeth, she and Mary Stuart are referred to as cousins when Elizabeth is Mary's father's cousin. In kinship terminology, a "cousin" is simply one whom shares a common ancestor. To be specific, Elizabeth would be Mary's cousin-once-removed but this is not a term that would have been used in the 16th Century and is only rarely used even today. Suffice it to say, referring to Mary as Elizabeth's cousin (and vice versa) is entirely correct and accurate.

Revealing mistakes 

When Elizabeth is supposed to be galloping side-saddle, she is actually astride her horse. A false right leg dangles on the horse's side.
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Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Anachronisms 

When Francis Walsingham is on his deathbed, Isaac Oliver's famous "Rainbow Portrait" of Elizabeth I is hanging from a wall. The painting was completed around 1600; Walsingham died April 6, 1590.
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Continuity 

At Mary's execution, her crucifix dangles to the left. In the next shot it is dangling in the middle.
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Factual errors 

The execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is shown with a single, swift ax stroke. Historically, it took at least two strokes; the first hit Mary in the back of the head (reportedly prompting her to cry out, "Sweet Jesus") and the second severed all of her neck save some sinew, which the executioner then cut through by using the ax as a saw. Some reports say the execution required a third stroke. Also, when lifting up her head to show it off to the audience, the executioner lifted it using her hair and the head thumped to the ground revealing that she wore a wig. No doubt the director realized that would all be too gruesome to show onscreen.

See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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