Elizabeth Tudor became the Queen of England and Ireland on November 17, 1558 until her death on March 24, 1603. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I is often referred to as The Golden Age of English history. Elizabeth was an immensely popular Queen, and her popularity has waned little since the four hundred years after her death. Queen Elizabeth is still regarded as one of the greatest and highly admired rulers of all time. She became a legend in her own lifetime, famed forherremarkable abilities and achievements.
Elizabeth, sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bes, was the fifth and last member of the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII, and his second wife Anne Boleyn. She was born on September 7, 1533 at Greenwich Palace. It can be thought that her birth was the greatest disappointment of her father's life. He had wanted a son and heir to succeed him, as he already had a daughter, Mary, by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. He had not divorced Katherine and changed the religion of his country in the process, to have only another daughter. Elizabeth was baptised on September 10, 1553, at Greenwich Palace.
From Elizabeth's birth onwards, Henry's feelings for the women he had once loved passionately began to cool. But while Anne was still Queen of England, Elizabeth's life was comfortable. She had been granted her own household at the Royal Palace of Hatfield, and her mother saw to it that she was well cared for. Amongst these attending the new Princess was her half-sister, Princess Mary, now Lady Mary after she was made illegitimate at the annulling of her mother's marriage to the King. Only the heir to the throne could be prince or princess in England, and as an illegitimate offspring, Mary was not longer in line to the throne. Understandably, Mary resented having to serve the daughter of the woman who had replaced her mother.
Elizabeth's governmess at this time was Maragarat, Lady Bryan. She was Elizabeth's chief carer and was responsible for the young princess's well-being. It was customary for royal children to live apart from their parents, althought Anne Boleyn ensured that she saw Elizabeth regularly. Without a doubt, had Elizabeth been a boy, or had Anne borne King Henry VIII a son sometime after Elizabeth's birth, Anne Boleyn's fate would have been very different. But like Catherine of Aragon before her, she did not make this provision. Anne's days were numbered. She was accussed of witchcraft, adultery, and incest, and was arrested and taken to the Tower of London, where she was put on trial and found guilty on all accounts and condemned to death. Anne was beheaded on Tower green on May 19, 1536. Her daughter was only two and half years old.
Anne Boleyn's marriasge to the king was declared null and void, and Elizabeth, like her half-sister, was declared illegitimate and deprived of her place in the line of succession. She was then stripped of her title of Princess Elizabeth, and became simply the Lady Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a very bright child and this change in her name did not escape her. Within days of her mother's death, Henry had married again, this time to Jane Seymour, a young women who had been a maid of honor to Anne, just as Anne had been a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon.Jane Seymour died a few days after giving birth to Henry's longed for son, Prince Edward in 1537. Edward now became the undisputed heir to the throne. The King, however, was devastated at her loss and gave her a royal burial at the Chapel of St. George in Windsor Castle. Like Elizabeth, Edward too had to grow up motherless, and from an early age, the two children formed a close bond. Elizabeth and her half-sister, Mary, were never close. They were of different religions, Elizabeth a Protestant, Mary a Catholic; of very different ages, Mary being seventeen years older; of different family connections, and all around have very different personalities. Edward and Elizabeth, however, were close in age, of the same religion, and both shared a passion for learning. Both of the children were given a very impressive education. From an early age, the two children were taught Latin, Greek, Spanish, French as well as all other requirements of a classical humanist education such as history, philosophy and mathematics.
When Elizabeth was four years old, Lady Bryan (her governess) was replaced by a young woman named Katherine Champernowne. Katherine was a sweet, motherly and well-educated lady, who came to love her young charge dearly. She became an important figure in Elizabeth's life. Elizabeth affectionately cameto call her "Kat." She later married Elizabeth's cousin, John Ashley, which tied her even closer to the young royal. As well as Kat Ashley, Elizabeth's immediate household also included a Welsh women named Blanche Parry, and Thomas Parry. Blanche remained a close friend and confident of the Queen throughout her life and was even given an elaborate tomb by Elizabeth when she died in the late 1580's. Blanche also taught Elizabeth some of her native Welsh language. Elizabeth was a gifted student and her talent was appreciated by those who had the privilege to teach her. Roger Ascham, a well-known scholar of the day, who believed learning should be engaging, and who was responsible for tutoring other talented students, regarded Elizabeth as his brightest star. Besides reading and writing, Elizabeth also spent her time learning to play musical instruments, which she came to do with a degree of proficiency, and also learnt needlework and art.
Henry's marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, was quickly annulled. However, Henry's fifth wife, Katherine Howard, had a much more lasting impression on Elizabeth. Catherine Howard was Elizabeth's cousin on her mother's side, and the young Queen took a great interest in her new step-daughter, often having her with her and playing with her. When she first dined in public, she gave Elizabeth, who so far had spent her life in the shadows and overlooked as insignificant, the place of honor across from her. For Elizabeth, this must have been a momentous occasion.
But this happy state of affairs could not last forever. It was discovered that Catherine Howard had committed adultery, and just like Elizabeth's mother, was taken to the Tower of London, condemned to death and executed on Tower Green. One can assume that this must have been a very painful and confusing time for Elizabeth, who was only eight years old. The extenet of it's impact cannot be measured, however, it is significant that Robert Dudley, her childhood friend and confident when she later became Queen, said many years later than when she was eight years old, Elizabeth told him that she would never marry. In Elizabeth's 8 short years she had lost her mother and had had three stepmothers, two of whom were now dead. Also, there is no doubt that by that time she had heard tales of the fate of her half-sisters mother, Catherine of Aragon. It is not suprising that if all these combined events impressed in her a fear of what happened to women who married.
Life with Henry's sixth wife, Catherine Parr, proved to be rather tranquil for Elizabeth. Catherine was a motherly lady who did her best to give the royal children a family home. She liked to have children around her and did much to reconcile Elizabeth and Mary to their father. But life was no entirely idyllic. During a stay at the royal court, Elizabeth managed to offend her father profoundly, for which she was banished from the Palace. What exactly this offense was remains a mystery. Henry's reaction was alarming, but with Catherine Parr's intervention, the event blew over and Elizabeth was allowed back to court.
At this point in time, King Henry VIII was far from well. He had a great ulcer on his leg that troubled him immesnely and his enormous weight restricted his mobiltiy considerably. It was becoming clear to all around him thast his days were numbered. He died on January 28, 1547. Lady Elizabeth was with her half-brother, Edward, at the Royal Palace of Enfield when they were told of their father's death. She and her brother cried bitterly, holding each other close. Both children knew their lives were about to change dramatically. Both of the children were now orphans. Elizabeth was 13 years of age, and Edward, who was only nine, became the King of England.
Elizabeth's adolescence was no easier than her childhood. While her father had lived, she was safe from political opportunists, but after his death she became vulnerable to those who saw her as a political pawn. Despite being officially illegitimate, Henry had reinstated his daughters in the line of succession. Mary was to follow Edward, and Elizabeth was to follow Mary. Elizabeth's step-mother, Catherine Parr, remarried soon after the King's death to the Lord Admiral, Thomas Seymour. Thomas Seymour was the brother of Edward Seymour, the new Kings uncle and the Lord Protector of England. Elizabeth, with her servants, went to live with the Queen dowager and her new husband and a new era of trouble began for her.
Thomas Seymour, a dashing man in his late thirties, took an unhealthy interest in his new step-daughter, who had at this time just turned fourteen. He was charismatic and charming, and it is quite possible that Elizabeth developed a teenage crush on him. But whatever her feelings for him might have been, he took advantage of them and began to visit Elizabeth's bedchamber early in the mornings to romp in the bed with her. Sometimes the Queen herself would accompany him, and they would both tickle her. Exactly what happened between Elizabeth and Seymour will always remain unknown as the knowledge we do have of her time with him and Catherine comes from the documents produced sometime later when an investigation was taking place into Seymour's relations with Elizabeth and the other royal children. Certainly matters appeared to have got out of hand, Seymour's interest in Elizabeth being blantly sexual, and neither Catherine, Kat Ashley, or Elizabeth herself was comfortable with his behavior.
Elizabeth would reputedly rise early so that when he came to her bedchamber in the mornings she would already be up and dressed. Matters came to a head when Elizabeth was reputedly found alone with the Admiral, and Catherine concerned and perhaps a little jealous of his attention in the young girl, thought it would be better for her to leave the househild. Elizabeth accordingly left, althogh there was no enmity between the two women, and Elizabeth wrote often to the Queen, who was now heavily pregnant. She soon gave birth to a daughter, who was named Margaret, but Catherine did not survive the birth.
Leaving the household was not the end of Elizabeth's troubles with the Admiral. Shortly after his wifes death, Seymour began to seek Elizabeth's hand in marriage, and she turned him down. Seymour was deeply jealous of his brother's influence in the country and over the boy King, and he planned a coup to give himself that power. He planned to abduct the King, marry him to Lady Jane Grey, and marry himself to Elizabeth. His plans failed, and he was arreted for treason. His plan to marry Elizabeth implicated her in the plot. It was high treason for an heir to the throne to marry without the consent of the Monarch, Privy Council, and Parliament, and Elizabeth stood in great danger from those who felt that she was complicent in his marrital schemes. Her servants were arrested and sent to the Tower and she herself was closely guarded. She was also subjected to a rigorous questioning on her relations with the Admiral by Sir Robert Tyrwhitt.
Elizabeth was only fifteen years old but one careless word from her could have sealed the fate of all those who were dear to her, and possily cost her her own life as well (although it is doubtful that Elizabeth's death was the object of the government, their main concern being to condem the Admiral). In such extremely difficult, and what ust have been very frightening circumstances, and with virtually no assistance, Elizabeth managed to uphold her innocence. The Admiral, however, was found guilty of high treason and condemned to death. The affect of this on Elizabeth must have been immsense. Certainly, it took its toll emotionally and physically, and Elizabeth was unwell for some months after. However, as well as affecting her heath, it also affected her reputation., and this was a great concern to Elizabeth as well. She was always very sensitive about what people thought of her, and she wanted the rumor that she was pregnant by the Admiral suppressed.. She wrote to the Protector asking for a proclamation to be made saying these things were untrue. But while this was considered, it was not implemented.
During the investigation, Elizabeth had also been painfully parted from her governmeness, and it was sometime before they were reunited. In these troubled years, Elizabeth's relationship with her brother suffered. They were no longer as close as they had been, and during and immediately after the Seymour scandal, Elizabeth was forbidden to attend court. She was eventually allowed to return, however. To try and recapture her virginal image, Elizabeth dressed as the perfect Protestant lady. She wrote plain black and white gowns, refused to decorate herself with jewelery and other finery, and refused to wear make up. Her sobreity was much commented on, and even her half-brother called her "sweet sister temperance."
Following the disgrace and death of his brother, Thomas, Edward Seymour was replaced as Protector by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick , soon to be the Duke of Northumberland. He was the father of Elizabeth's childhood friend, Robert Dudley, and they may have seen each other a number of times during the Duke's government. King Edward had enjoyed a rather healthy childhood, but from 1553 onwards, he begun to be very ill. It became clear to Northumberland that the young boy was not likely to survive into adulthood, and thus he made preparations for the succession. The heir in English law was Edward's half-sister Mary, but she was an ardent Catholic, and her accession would undoubtedly put an end to Northumberland's reforms of the church, and his personal power.
To prevent a Catholic succession, Northumberland devised a scheme that would both preserve Protestantism, and his own influence. If both Mary and Elizabeth were excluded from the succession, then the crown would fall on either the Stuart line though King Henry VIII's oldest sister Margaret, or the Sulfolk/Grey line through his younger sister, Mary. Henry VIII had excluded from his will the claims of the Stuart line, and so the crown would fall on Frances, Duchess of Suffolk. Both Mary and Elizabeth were again bastardized and excluded from the succession of the throne. The Duchess of Suffolk was set aside in favor of her daughter, Lady Jane Grey. Northumberland had further married his youngest son, Guildford Dudley, to Jane, thus ensuring the influence of the Dudleys. King Edward VI died on July 6, 1553, at the age of fifteen. Three days after the young kings death, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen. The coup, however, failed. Mary put up a strong and successful fight for her throne and was proclaimed Queen on July 19, 1553, in London. Five days later, the Duke of Northumberland was arrested and later executed.
The Reign of Queen MaryEdit
After successfully defeating Northumberland's attempt to prevent her from obtaining the throne, Mary Tudor triumphantly made her way to Londonn. Elizabeth, who was now 19 years old, was given the privilege of riding with the new queen. The two daughters of the much revered Henry VIII were welcomed by cheering crowds. Mary's accession had thus begun well for Elizabeth. However, the differences between the two sisters, mainly their two different faiths, soon caused problems. Mary was suspicious of her younger half-sister, and was reluctant to acknowledge her as heir to the throne. It was not until Mary's final illnes that she accepted Elizabeth as the heir. Now that she was Queen, Mary set about restoring the Catholic faith in England. Mary also married Prince Philip, the son of the Emperor Charles V of Spain in 1554. The marriage was extremely unpopular in England. Spain was the greatest power in Europe and it was feared that England, too, would fall under it's dominance.
In opposition to the planned marriage, Thomas Wyatt, a gentleman from Kent, raised a rebellion against it. Beyond the intention of getting the Queen to renounce the marriage, the plans of the conspirators remain vague. When they were captured for questioning, it emerged that one of their plans was to have Elizabeth marry Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, to ensure a native born succession to the throne. Thus, Elizabeth again found herself implemented in a dangerous political plot. Given Elizabeth's dislike of marriage, and her distaste of rebellion, it is extremely unlikely that she was a party to their schemes, or if she knew of their plans, or approved of them. But, the very use of her name by the cospirators, and the existence of circumstantial evidence that suggested that Elizabeth may well have had knowledge of the intended revolt, were enough to put her under suspicion. Elizabeth denied any knowledge of Wyatt's plans, but the Queen's close advisor, Simon Renard, was hostile to the Protestant heir, and persuaded Mary to bring her to trial.
Elizabeth was not put on trial, but, instead, she was taken as a prisoner to the Tower of London. The thought of going to the place from where so many had never returned, including her own mother, Anne Boleyn, terrified her and she desperately declared her innocence. But to no avail, on Sunday, March 18, 1554, she was taken by boat to the Royal Fortress. At first, Elizabeth refused to enter, declaring that she was innocent, and a loyal subject of the Queen, but she did eventually go in. She was imprisoned in the Bell Tower. Some of her familiar servants were imprisoned with her, including her governess, Kat Ashley.
Elizabeth's very existence was considered a threat to Queen Mary, and to the Spanish marriage, and the Queen's advisors urged her execution. Mary was reluctant to shed blood, but she had succumbed to pressure to execute the Lady Jane Grey against her will, and powerful persuasion could have led to her signing of her half-sister's death warrant. But the lack of evidence against Elizabeth, Wyatt's delcarastion of her innocence as he went to his death on the block, and Elizabeth's increasing popularity in the country, all worked in her favor, and she was soon released from the Tower. She was not given her freedom, however, and was taken prisoner to the manor of Woodstock, near Oxfordshire. On her way there, the crowds greeted her with warm cheers and gifts, and demonstrations of their support during her difficult time.
Elizabeth was kept at Woodstock for a eyar. The manor itself was dilapidated, and so Elizabeth had to be lodged in the Gatehouse. There was little room for her servants, and Thomas Parry, who was responsible for her financial accounts, had to lodge in the near by town. Elizabeth was guarded by Sir Henry Bedingfield's hundred men, and watched her closely. Elizabeth was kept from seeing Kat Ashley, and everyone who did visit her had be accounted for. Elizabeth was not allowed to communicate with anyone without supervision. Bedingfield was perhaps overly strict with his young charge, but his vigilance was as much for Elizabeth's benefit as it was for the Queen's. Although Bedingfield's constraints irritated her, Elizabeth appeared to have appreciated and understood his efforts, When Elizabeth became Queen, she bore him not ill will, and teased him, saying that if she ever needed to keep someone closely confined, she would summon him.
Following her marriage to Philip, Queen Mary soon believed herself to be pregnant. This was welcome news to her supporters, but alarmed Protestants. If Mary gave birth to a healthy child, then the hope of restoring the Protestant faith in England looked lost for good. The news of Mary's pregnancy also concerned Elizabeth. It seemed now that her chance of ever becoming Queen was further away, and she even considered escaping from England to France t avoid a life of imprisonment. However, as the months passed, it became clear that Mary was not pregnant at all. Mary was now increasingly unhappy and unpopular. Her policy of burning Protestants at the stake was hated, as was her involving England in a war with France in which Calais, England's last foothold in France, was lost.
At her husbands request, Mary reluctantly accepted Elizabeth as heir to the throne. After Elizabeth, and passing over the Suffolk line, the most powerful claimont to the throne was Mary, Queen of Scots, granddaughter of Henry VIII's eldest sister, Margaret. Mary had married the French heir to the throne, Francois, and the French and Spanish were enemies. Thus, even though Elizabeth was Protestant, it was in Philip's best interest to secure her accession to the throne to avoid the French from obtaining it.
Elizabeth was at her childhood home of Hatfield when Queen Mary died on November 17, 1558. It is said that Elizabeth was eating an apple underneath an oak tree in the Great Park when the news of her accession to the throne had reached her. Elizabeth was only 25 years old, and now the Queen of England.
Becoming Queen & MarriageEdit
From the moment Elizabeth became Queen, there was one question that everyone was asking: who will the Queen marry? It was assumed that one of the fifth things Elizabeth would do as Queen would be to select a husband to help her govern her country, and more importantly, to get her pregnant. Elizabeth was the last of her dynasty, and it was thought natural that her main concern would be to provide a child to perpetuate the rule of the Tudors. Elizabeth was young and there were high hopes that soon England would have a royal family again. Without an heir of the Queen's body, the future would be uncertain, and many feared that the rival claimes of Henry VIII"s distant relatives would plunge the country into a bitter civil war should Elizabeth die without a legitimate child to succeed her.
In these early weeks of her reign, the court buzzed with suitors eager to take her hand in marriage, and European ambassadors were busy trying to advance the suit of their masters and of their master's relatives. Queen Elizabeth was not the most sought after women in all of Europe. She received offers of marriage from people such as the King of Spain, Prince Eric of Sweden--soon to be King, The Archduke Charles (son of the Emperor Ferdinand), The Earl of Arran, and Sir William Pickering, who was so confident that he would be selected, that he demanded certain privileges be granted to him while he stayed at the Court. Elizabeth politely rejected the offer made by King Philip of Spain, but allowed the other suitors to remain hopeful, while allowing her advisors to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each match. Yet, the only person it seemed who did not see the urgency for marriage was Elizabeth herself.It will never be know whether Elizabeth actually intended to marry or not. Certainly, she showed no great enthusiasm for marriage and declared on a number of occasions that she personally preferred the single life. However, there is a ganger to read history backwards and assume that became Elizabeth never married that it was always her inentions not to. The marriage of a Queen regnant was a complicated affair, and could be disastrous for the country, like the case of Queen Mary had illustrated. Elizabeth did not want to repeat her sister's mistake by marrying a man that would not be popular with her people. Any man Elizabeth married would also expect a say in the governing of her country and neither Elizebther of her ministers wanted to relinqish any power over English affairs.
For this reason, it was in the best interests of the country for Elizabeth to marry a man who, although of suitable rank and status, was not a major Europen power, and would be content to be the Queen's consort only. This effectively ruled out reigning monarchs. To complicate matters further, it seemed that Elizabeth had fallen deeply in love with one of her own subjects, Lord Robert Dudley, her Master of Horse. They had been friends since childhood and he was one of the few men Elizabeth believed valued her for herself, and not for her title as Queen. Her marriage to a fellow protestant Englishman would certainly have avoided the problem of foreigners controlling the country through marriage to the Queen, and avoided a clash over religion, but marriage to a subject also gave rise to serious problems. Competition for power amongst the English nobility was fierce, and if Elizabeth married one noble, his rivals in power would be offended and possibly withdraw their allegiance from her, and even plunge the country into a civil war. Also, the match would not be one of equality, and would not provide England with a much needed foreign ally.
There were also other cosniderations that made Dudley particularly unsuitable. To begin with, he was already married, having married a young girl called Amy Robsart when he was about seventeen, and secondly, he was the son of the much hated Duke of Northumberland, who had been executed for treason in the reign of the Queen's half-sister, Mary. Dudley was also the grandson of Edmund Dudley, who had likewise met a traitors death earlier in the century. Robert Dudley himself had been imprisoned in the Tower for his involvement in his father's scheme to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Elizabeth's attachment to him, however, seemed unrelenting, and it was feared by many that he would seek an annullment from his wife, and marry the Queen. Whether Elizabeth seriously intended marrying him or not is another of the many mysteries of her reign, but the sudden death of Dudley's wife in September of 1560 put to an end any real hope of marrying him that she may have entertained.The relationship between the Queen and her Horse Master had long been the subject of speculation amongst her people and in Europe, and malicious gossip had circulated the idea that Dudley was going to murder his wife so that he could marry Elizabeth. Amy was found dead at the bottom of a narrow staircase, her neck broken, and many people believed that her death was not an unfortunate accident. Dudley was widely suspected to be responsible for her death, despite the fact that the Inquest declared it to be an accident, and had Elizabeth married him, many more would have believed the ugly rumors circulating about him, and perhaps even that Elizabeth herself had been involved. But despite Amy's death, Dudley was still the most likely candidate for her hand, and the Queens advisors reluctantly had to acknowledge this fact.
The only other serious contender for Elizabeth's hand was Francis, Duke of Alencon, later Duke of Anjou. He was the son of Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother of France, and a brother to the French King. His courtship did not gain serious consideration until the 1570’s, as he was considerably younger than Elizabeth herself, and the negotiations were entirely based on the mutual need of England and France to make an ally of each other. The traditional European alliance system whereby England was united with Spain was rapidly deteriorating, and England needed the support of France if she was to protect herself against Spain.
|The French were Catholic as well, but did not appear to be as hostile to English Protestantism as the
Spanish were. Alencon himself was also known to have a sympathy with the French Protestants (called Hugeunots), and was not as adverse to marrying a Protestant Queen as his older brother, now king, had been. For a decade, negotiations for the hand of Alencon played a prominent part in English politics. The negotiations were temporarily discontinued following the Bartholomew Massacre, in which an estimated six thousand French Protestants, including women and children, were killed, but were soon continued when the need for an ally was pressing again.
|This was by far the most serious foreign courtship of Elizabeth's reign, and it seemed certain for a while that Elizabeth would actually marry him. Francis even came to England for Elizabeth to meet him, and it seemed that the Queen was quite taken with the Frenchman, despite the fact that he was not as good looking as some of her suitors had been, and was disfigured from a case of small pox. Elizabeth announced before some of her courtiers that she would marry him, kissed him, and gave him a ring. This pleased those eager for her marriage, but alarmed those who did not want their Queen married to a French Catholic. The political elite appeared divided. There were those who supported the marriage such as William Cecil and Thomas Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex, and those who were opposed such as Robert Dudley, now Earl of Leicester. A man named John Stubbes wrote a pamphlet warning the Queen against the marriage, for which he had his right hand cut off.|
|Once again, politics and religion were making it very difficult for Queen Elizabeth to marry. If she married, then she risked her popularity and support for her reign, but she was now in her late forties, and if she did not marry Alencon, then this could be her last chance at marriage, and having a child to succeed her to the throne. Elizabeth appears to have felt this deeply, and on one occasion when her Council was debating the pros and cons of the marriage, she broke down and wept. The ultimate decision lay with Elizabeth herself, but without the solid backing of her country, marriage would not have been wise.No one knows if marriage was what Elizabeth actually wanted, and perhaps Elizabeth didn't really know herself. The Alencon courtship had caused lot of problems within the court and country, and on top of that, Elizabeth learnt that Dudley had married her cousin, Lettice Devereux, Countess of Essex. While the story that he kept the marriage a secret from her for a year is probably apocryphal, Elizabeth still felt a sense of betrayal at his marriage and this may have been a factor in her apparent desire to marry Alencon. But after ten years, the Alencon match was finally laid to rest. Elizabeth's fears of marriage once again began to surface, and the political problems the marriage would cause, made it seem impractical.|
For over twenty years, Elizabeth had been courted by the most eligible men in Europe. The “marriage game” had come to be an important part of foreign relations, and a valuable asset to the country. When it seemed that England was losing allys, or in times when England needed allys, all Elizabeth had to do was suggest marriage to the respective countries, and regardless of whether she intended to marry or not, the prospect of marriage to the English Queen was too big to resist, and Elizabeth could be assured of their support for the future. But now that Elizabeth was approaching fifty years of age, and could no longer realistically expect to bear a child, she could no longer use her marriage as a diplomatic weapon. It was certain now that Elizabeth would never marry. Her statesmen must have been relieved that the often grueling negotiations for her hand were over, but the dangers the lack of an heir posed could not be ignored, and must have weighed heavily on the minds of her advisors.
The woman who early in her reign had declared that it would please her if on her grave it was written “A queen having lived and reigned such and such a time, lived and died a virgin” would have her wish come true, and be known for ever more as The Virgin Queen.
In the months that following the start of her reign, Queen Elizabeth re-established the Protestant Church in England. Perhaps to appease Catholics or to appease those who did not believe a women could become the head of the Church, Elizabeth became Supreme Governor of the Church of England, rather than Surpreme Head as her father had been. Though it's impossible to know exactly what Queen Elizabeth's personal religious beliefs were, the Church she established in an indication of them. She was a dedicated Protestant, and spent time in prayer every day. It can be assumed that Elizabeth was a conservtive Protestant. Elizabeth liked candles and crucifixes to be in her private chapel, she liked church music and enjoyed a more traditional style of worship. Elizabeth did not like religious extremism and did not believe in persecuting any of her people for their religious beliefs. However, the tenacious political nature of the Catholic/Protestant split meant that her government had to take a harsher line towards Catholics then she wanted.
The events that led p the restoration of the Church of England are known as "The Elizabeth Religious Settlement". It was comprised of two Acts:
- The Act of Supremacy
- The Act of Uniformity
THE ACT OF SUPREMACY
It was this act that gave Elizabeth ultimate control of the Church of England. In the reign of her father and brother, the monarch had been "Head of the Church in England", but under Elizabeth, this was changed to "Supreme Governor of the Church in England". The change may have been made to appease Catholics who could not accept the monarch as "Head of the Church", seeing the church as the Pope's domain, or it may have been made because Elizabeth was a woman. In the sixteenth century, women were regarded as inferior to men in spiritual matters, and many were uncomfortable with the idea of a woman being in charge. This act also included an oath of loyalty to the Queen that the clergy were expected to take. If they did not take it, then they would lose their office. A High Commission was established to ensure that the oath was taken "oh dear".
THE ACT OF UNIFORMITY
This was the crux of the Elizabethan Church, establishing a set form of worship. The Prayer books of Edward VI were fused into one, and were to be used in every church in the country. Church attendance on Sundays and holy days was made compulsory, with a twelve pence fine to be collected if people did not attend, the money to be given to the poor. The wording of the Communion was to be vague so that both Protestants and Catholics could both participate, and the ornaments and vestments of the Church were to be retained as they had been before the reforms in the second year of Edward's reign. Although the passage of the Act of Supremacy through Parliament had been relatively easy, passing the Act of Uniformity was much more difficult. A large number of the Parliament, who were still Catholic, opposed the bill, and it was eventually only passed by three votes.
The religious settlement began to be implemented in the summer of 1559. Despite the problems that sometimes arose, it proved to be very successful "whoop whoop"
Death of a QueenEdit
By the late winter of 1602 Elizabeth was feeling unwell. She had caught a chill after walking out in the cold winter air, and complained of a sore throat as well as aches and pains. It was the opinion of her contemporaries that she would have recovered from this illness if she had fought against it, but she was did not want to. She was old, she was tired, and she was lonely. She was ready to slip into the world where all those she had loved had gone before her. As her condition deteriorated, Archbishop Whitgift (her favorite of all her Archbishops of Canterbury) was called to her side, and the Queen clung tight to his hand. When he spoke to her of getting better, she made no response, but when he spoke to her of the joys of Heaven, she squeezed his hand contentedly. By this time she was beyond speech and could only communicate with gestures. It was clear to all of those around that the great Queen was dying.
There was still one matter that the Queen had left unresolved, the matter that had been unresolved since the first day the young Lady Elizabeth had heard that she was now Queen of England; the succession to the throne. However, it was generally believed that the King of Scotland was to succeed, and this question was put to the dying Queen. Elizabeth may or may not responded, but for the sake of the peaceful transition of power, it was later announced that she had gestured for James VI of Scotland to succeed her.
It was getting late, and those in vigilance around the Queen's bed left her to the care of her ladies. The Queen fell into a deep sleep, and died in the early hours on March 24, 1603. It was with sadness that the Queen's death was announced on the streets of London the following morning, and witnesses described the eerie silence of the stunned crowd. For almost 45 years they had been ruled by Elizabeth, and knew no other way of life.
As the Queen had wished, there was no post mortem. Her body was embalmed, and placed in a lead coffin. A few days later, the Queen began her last journey. She was taken by water to Whitehall, and laid in state, before being taken to Westminster Hall. There her body was to remain until the new King gave orders for her funeral.
On April 28, 1603, Elizabeth was given a magnificent funeral. Her coffin, which had been covered in purple velvet, was drawn by four horses draped in black. An effigy of the great Queen, dressed in the robes of state with a crown on her head and a sceptre in her hands, lay on the coffin beneath a mighty canopy held by six knights. Behind the Queen came her palfrey, led by her Master of Horse. The chief mourner, the Marchioness of Northampton, led the peeresses of the realm all dressed in black, and behind them came all the important men of the realm, as well as over two hundred poor folks. The streets were full of people, all come to pay their last respects to the Queen who had ruled them so wisely and for so long as she made her way to her final resting place at Westminster Abbey. She has been remembered as one of the greatest monarchs of England