FULL NAME: Elizabeth Tudor
BORN: Greenwich Palace, 7 September 1533
PARENTS: Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (Executed 19 May 1536)
CROWNED QUEEN OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND 17 November 1558, aged 25
MARITAL STATUS: Never married or had children
DIED: Richmond Palace on Lady Day, Thursday, 24 March 1603, aged 69
REIGNED: 44 years, 4 months
BURIED: Westminster Abbey, London
Queen Elizabeth I was known by many names: Elizabeth I”, “Elizabeth of England”, and “Elizabeth Tudor” was just a few. Some even called her the virgin queen due to the fact she was never married. Her era of reign as Queen of England and Ireland was 44 years starting in 1558 and lasting until her death in 1603. This was seen as a time of stability after the short reign of her brother and sister. During this era it was not normal that the women, especially royals, were not married and it was expected that Elizabeth would marry, but despite several petitions from parliament and numerous courtships, she never did. The reasons for this outcome have been much debated. As she grew older, Elizabeth became famous for her virginity, and a cult grew up around her that was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day.
Elizabeth 1 was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn, she was born a princess, but her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed two and a half years after her birth, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. She was like any other child and enjoyed sport. Elizabeth loved to ride and would go for long horseback rides which upset the people assigned to watch out for her well being. If she fell and was injured that possible could have not only cost them their job but also their life.
When Elizabeth 1 was very young there was scandal that her governess Kat Ashley found that Catherine Parr’s husband, Thomas Seymour, was tickling and slapping Elizabeth in bed and coming into her room in his nightclothes. Although in the beginning governess Parr thought it was innocent fun but she later sent Elizabeth away. It was even rumored that Elizabeth had a child by Seymour. Elizabeth’s true feelings for Seymour are not known, but when she heard of his execution she reportedly said: “This day died a man of much wit, but very little judgment”.
After the Seymour scandal the relationship with her brother suffered. They were no longer as close as they had been, and years later after his death, Edward VI, bequeathed the crown to Lady Jane Grey, excluding both Mary and Elizabeth from the succession. His will was contested and eventually set aside. Mary became the country’s first undisputed queen regnant and was determined to crush the Protestant faith in which Elizabeth had been educated. She ordered that everyone attend Mass. This included Elizabeth, who had to outwardly conform. Mary’s initial popularity ebbed away when it became known that she planned to marry Prince Philip of Spain, the son of Emperor Charles V. Disscontent spread rapidly through the country, and many looked to Elizabeth as a focus for their opposition to Mary’s religious policies. In January and February 1554, uprisings broke out, after they collapsed, Elizabeth was brought to court and interrogated. On 18 March, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where Lady Jane Grey had been executed on 12 February to deter the rebels. The terrified Elizabeth fervently protested her innocence. Though it is unlikely that she had plotted with the rebels, some of them were known to have approached her. Elizabeth’s supporters in the government, including Lord Paget, convinced Mary to spare her sister in the absence of hard evidence against her. Instead, on 22 May, Elizabeth was moved from the Tower to Woodstock, where she was to spend almost a year under house arrest in the charge of Sir Henry Bedingfield. Crowds cheered her all along the way.
On 17 April 1555, Elizabeth was recalled to court to be closely attended during the final stages of Mary’s apparent pregnancy. If Mary and her child died, Elizabeth would become queen. If, on the other hand, Mary gave birth to a healthy child, Elizabeth’s chances of becoming queen would recede sharply. When it became clear that Mary was not pregnant, no one believed any longer that she could have a child. Elizabeth’s succession seemed assured. Even Philip, who became King of Spain in 1556, acknowledged the new political reality. From this time forward, he cultivated Elizabeth, preferring her to the likely alternative, Mary, Queen of Scots, who had grown up in France and was betrothed to the Dauphin of France. When his wife fell ill in 1558, Philip sent the Count of Feria to consult with Elizabeth. By October, Elizabeth was making plans for her government. On 6 November, Mary recognised Elizabeth as her heir. Eleven days later, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne when Mary died at St. James’s Palace on 17 November 1558.
Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25, It is reputed that upon hearing the news that she was Queen, she is said to have quoted the 118th Psalm’s twenty-third line, in Latin: “A Dominum factum est illud, et est mirabile in oculis notris” – “It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” She took over in a time when dissension between Catholics and Protestants tore at the very foundation of society, one of her first defining moves was to support the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. Today it has evolved into the Church of England.
Although she tried to avoid war at all cost it was the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated her name forever with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history.
It was rumored that Elizabeth wrote some of Shakespears works but no evidence could every be brought forth that this was true. Nevertheless during her reign English drama flourished led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Sir Francis Drake. The era became synonomous with her name the “The Elizabethan age” was celebrated for its literary, music and dramatic culture.
Not all historians write well of Queen Elizabeth 1. Many have described her as having a horrendous temper, and a sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. During the later years of her reign, economic and military problems eroded away much of her support from her subjects and many were relieved at her death. The majority still see her as one of the best loved monarchs, and one of the most admired rulers of all time