|Queen Elizabeth I in younger years
(1533 – 1603)
On September 7, 1533, queen regnant of England and Ireland Elizabeth I. was born. Also referred to as the ‘Virgin Queen’, the daughter of Henry VIII was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth’s reign is known as the Elizabethan era, famous above all for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Sir Francis Drake.
Almost all the time through her reign, Elizabeth was a very popular queen. She became a legend through her politics and the myths that surround her until this day. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It is known that probably, her birth was not the happiest surprise in Henry’s life. He wanted a son to follow his footsteps wherefore he got divorced from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. During the first years, Elizabeth witnessed a constant bride changing of her father’s and it is assumed that this was a major factor why she never got married herself. It is also assumed that she never married due to political and religious issues, an important aspect during these years. Also Elizabeth was known to be afraid of childbirth, as many women back in the day died from infectious deseases afterwards.
However, she was given an impressive education throughout her childhood and was liked by her teachers, excelling in every subject. Her favorite fields of studies were languages, being able to speak as much as five fluently in later years. In 1547, the king passed away and its was now King Edward VI, who ruled the country. Unfortunately he was only 9 years old, wherefore his uncle took care of his responsibilities. Elizabeth was now second in line to the throne. After Edward died, it was Queen Mary’s turn, but she was not very popular and Elizabeth was taken to prison after being accused of treason. In 1558, she finally succeeded to the throne and started enjoying the new freedom. Queen Elizabeth I loved the theater and supported the artists in many possible ways. Elizabeth was known to be religiously tolerant and disliked extremism of any kind, but unfortunately her government followed the rules more strictly than she had wished to.
While she established her position as the queen, many marriage proposals reached the royalty. She rejected every proposal but it is assumed that she had indeed feelings for Robert Dudley, whom she was imprisioned with. Too bad that marrying him would have meant a political outrage, since he was known as a traitor and may have played a role in his wife’s mysterious death. Another serious contender was Francis, Duke of Alencon, but he also played a way too difficult political role as if this was even imaginable.
Through the years, the question of who would succeed her became more and more important. At first, the relations between her and Philip, King of Spain were good but suddenly they were serious enemies. He even attempted to invade England but was defeated by English forces. Elizabeth’s popularity was at its highest point by then, proving that she could lead the country by herself. In later years though, the queen reached a period of depression, since some of her advisors as well as several friends passed away. Elizabeth herself passed away on March 24, 1603 at Richmond Palace and James VI became King of England, ending the Tudor dynasty.
References and Further Reading:
- Queen Elizabeth I Website
- William Camden, Annales Rerum Gestarum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha
- Tudor and Elizabeth Portraits
- Archival material relating to Elizabeth I of England
- Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I
Related Articles in the Blog: