Elizabeth I of England Bio
Elizabeth I of England was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth, and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary.
Edward’s will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.
In 1558 upon Mary’s death, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel. She depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor.
This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir; however, despite numerous courtships, she never did. She was eventually succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland. She had earlier been responsible for the imprisonment and execution of James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots.
In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been. One of her mottos was “video et taceo” (“I see but say nothing”). In religion, she was relatively tolerant and avoided systematic persecution. After the pope declared her illegitimate in 1570 and released her subjects from obedience to her, several conspiracies threatened her life, all of which were defeated with the help of her ministers’ secret service.
Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, maneuvering between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland. By the mid-1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain. England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history.
As she grew older, Elizabeth became celebrated for her virginity. A cult grew around her which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day. Elizabeth’s reign became known as the Elizabethan era. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake.
Some historians depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor in an era when the government was ramshackle and limited, and when monarchs in neighboring countries faced internal problems that jeopardized their thrones.
After the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.
Elizabeth I of England Age
Elizabeth was born on 7 September 1533 and died on 24 March 1603, at the age of 70 years.
Elizabeth I of England Early Life
Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace and was named after her grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard. She was the second child of Henry VIII of England born in wedlock to survive infancy. Her mother was Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
At birth, Elizabeth was the heir presumptive to the throne of England. Her older half-sister, Mary, had lost her position as a legitimate heir when Henry annulled his marriage to Mary’s mother, Catherine of Aragon, to marry Anne, with the intent to sire a male heir and ensure the Tudor succession.
Elizabeth was two years and eight months old when her mother was beheaded on 19 May 1536, four months after Catherine of Aragon’s death from natural causes. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and deprived of her place in the royal succession. Eleven days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Henry married Jane Seymour, who died shortly after the birth of their son, Edward, in 1537.
From his birth, Edward was the undisputed heir apparent to the throne. Elizabeth was placed in his household and carried the chrisom, or baptismal cloth, at his christening.
Elizabeth’s first governess, Margaret Bryan, wrote that she was “as toward a child and as gentle of conditions as ever I knew any in my life”. Catherine Champernowne, better known by her later, married name of Catherine “Kat” Ashley, was appointed as Elizabeth’s governess in 1537, and she remained Elizabeth’s friend until her death in 1565.
Champernowne taught Elizabeth four languages: French, Flemish, Italian and Spanish. By the time William Grindal became her tutor in 1544, Elizabeth could write English, Latin, and Italian.
Under Grindal, a talented and skillful tutor, she also progressed in French and Greek. After Grindal died in 1548, Elizabeth received her education under Roger Ascham, a sympathetic teacher who believed that learning should be engaging.
By the time her formal education ended in 1550, Elizabeth was one of the best-educated women of her generation. At the end of her life, Elizabeth was also believed to speak Welsh, Cornish, Scottish and Irish in addition to the languages mentioned above.
The Venetian ambassador stated in 1603 that she “possessed these languages so thoroughly that each appeared to be her native tongue”. Historian Mark Stoyle suggests that she was probably taught Cornish by William Killigrew, Groom of the Privy Chamber and later Chamberlain of the Exchequer.
Elizabeth I of England Husband
From the start of Elizabeth’s reign, it was expected that she would marry and the question arose to whom. Although she received many offers for her hand, she never married and was childless; the reasons for this are not clear. Historians have speculated that Thomas Seymour had put her off sexual relationships.
She considered several suitors until she was about fifty. Her last courtship was with Francis, Duke of Anjou, 22 years her junior. While risking possible loss of power like her sister, who played into the hands of King Philip II of Spain, marriage offered the chance of an heir. However, the choice of a husband might also provoke political instability or even insurrection
Elizabeth I of England Death
The Queen’s health remained fair until the autumn of 1602 when a series of deaths among her friends plunged her into a severe depression. In February 1603, the death of Catherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham, the niece of her cousin and close friend Lady Knollys, came as a particular blow.
In March, Elizabeth fell sick and remained in a “settled and unremovable melancholy”, and sat motionless on a cushion for hours on end. When Robert Cecil told her that she must go to bed, she snapped: “Must is not a word to use to princes, little man.” She died on 24 March 1603 at Richmond Palace, between two and three in the morning. A few hours later, Cecil and the council set their plans in motion and proclaimed James King of England.
While it has become normative to record the death of the Queen as occurring in 1603, following English calendar reform in the 1750s, at the time England observed New Year’s Day on 25 March, commonly known as Lady Day. Thus Elizabeth died on the last day of the year 1602 in the old calendar. The modern convention is to use the old calendar for the date and month while using the new for the year.
Elizabeth’s coffin was carried downriver at night to Whitehall, on a barge lit with torches. At her funeral on 28 April, the coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on a hearse drawn by four horses hung with black velvet. In the words of the chronicler John Stow:
Westminster was surcharged with multitudes of all sorts of people in their streets, houses, windows, leads and gutters, that came out to see the obsequy, and when they beheld her statue lying upon the coffin, there was such a general sighing, groaning and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man.
Elizabeth was interred in Westminster Abbey, in a tomb shared with her half-sister, Mary I. The Latin inscription on their tomb, “Regno consortes & urna, hic obdormimus Elizabetha et Maria sorores, in spe resurrectionis”, translates to “Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection”.
Elizabeth I of England Accession
Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25 and declared her intentions to her Council and other peers who had come to Hatfield to swear allegiance. The speech contains the first record of her adoption of the medieval political theology of the sovereign’s “two bodies”: the body natural and the body politic:
My lords, the law of nature moves me to sorrow for my sister; the burden that is fallen upon me makes me amazed, and yet, considering I am God’s creature, ordained to obey His appointment, I will thereto yield, desiring from the bottom of my heart that I may have assistance of His grace to be the minister of His heavenly will in this office now committed to me.
And as I am but one body naturally considered, though by His permission a body politic to govern, so shall I desire you all … to be assistant to me, that I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth. I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and counsel.
As her triumphal progress wound through the city on the eve of the coronation ceremony, she was welcomed wholeheartedly by the citizens and greeted by orations and pageants, most with a strong Protestant flavor. Elizabeth’s open and gracious responses endeared her to the spectators, who were “wonderfully ravished”.
The following day, 15 January 1559, a date was chosen by her astrologer John Dee, Elizabeth was crowned and anointed by Owen Oglethorpe, the Catholic bishop of Carlisle, in Westminster Abbey. She was then presented for the people’s acceptance, amidst a deafening noise of organs, fifes, trumpets, drums, and bells.
Although Elizabeth was welcomed as queen in England, the country was still in a state of anxiety over the perceived Catholic threat at home and overseas, as well as the choice of whom she would marry
Elizabeth I of England Successor
After 44 years of rule, Queen Elizabeth I of England dies, and King James VI of Scotland ascends to the throne, uniting England and Scotland under a single British monarch. The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne in 1559 upon the death of her half-sister Queen Mary. Feb 9, 2010.
Elizabeth I of England Quotes
1. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.
2. All my possessions for a moment of time.
3. Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.
4. A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing.
5. I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married.
6. To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it.
7. I do not want a husband who honors me like a queen if he does not love me as a woman.
8. Do not tell secrets to those whose faith and silence you have not already tested.
9. God forgive you, but I never can.
10. I do not so much rejoice that God hath made me be a Queen.
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