Elizabeth I became queen of England on 17th November 1558 and reigned until her death on 24th March 1603. This time was to become known as the Elizabethan Era. Elizabeth was the fifth and final monarch of the Tudor dynasty but was a formidable queen who was loved, revered, plus known for moderation in terms of government negotiation. She was certainly her father’s daughter bringing the protestant church back as the main faith in England. The Church of England has remained so until this present time being the main legacy of Henry VIII her father and Elizabeth herself.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn who was beheaded in order to enable Henry to marry Jane Seymour his third wife. She spent her childhood in the household of her younger brother Edward having a succession of governesses and teachers. She was a clever student speaking four languages, French, Spanish, Flemish and Italian. Elizabeth was one of the best educated women of her time making her a very worthy monarch. She was named The Virgin Queen as she never married or had any children even though she did have many suitors.
Following the death of Henry VIII his widow Catherine Parr married Thomas Seymour of Sudeley. The couple allowed Elizabeth into their home. Seymour stands accused of romping around the bedroom with the fourteen year old Elizabeth. This was known to his wife who it seems did not object. It was only when she caught them in an inappropriate clinch that she had Elizabeth sent away. Seymour pursued Elizabeth following his wife’s death hoping to marry her and secure the English throne for himself. He was however unsuccessful and when his cavorting came to the attention of the council he was arrested, charged with plotting to overthrow his brother, was tried then executed in March 1549.
Elizabeth became queen in January 1559 at the age of twenty five. The coronation was widely celebrated with the streets of London filled by entertainers, jugglers and huge crowds of well wishers. It was hoped following her coronation that she would soon marry but it was not to be the case. Some feared that Elizabeth had been put off men by the incident with Seymour, we shall never know. In her later years she was said to be very fond of The Duke of Anjou who was twenty two years younger than Elizabeth but it is thought that her one true love whom she had cared for over many years was Robert Dudley a married man.
Elizabeth faced many struggles with respect to keeping the throne of England. Mary Queen of Scots was one such threat as her supporters believed her to be the rightful heir to the throne. Mary was catholic and it was feared that if she succeeded in taking the throne Rome would once again be in charge of England’s pastoral care. Mary was at first protected by Elizabeth but eventually a plot was said to have been uncovered involving Mary and her quest to take the throne. True or not Elizabeth was persuaded to sign Mary’s death warrant and she was executed at Fotheringhay in 1587.
Perhaps the biggest campaign that Elizabeth sanctioned in terms of war was the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Spain was trying to invade England but they failed miserably when Elizabeth sent her navy led by Lord Howard Effingham and Sir Francis Drake into battle to defeat them. It was a real feather in the cap for Elizabeth, securing England’s sovereignty and reputation for bravery in battle.
Elizabeth had a long and sometimes arduous reign that brought her both grief and happiness. She never married nor had an heir so it was inevitable following her death in March 1603 the crown would go to James VI of Scotland. Some say Elizabeth named him as her successor some say she did not but whatever the case may be the outcome was the same. James VI succeeding to the throne after Elizabeth’s death meant that finally England and Scotland were brought together under one king. Elizabeth was buried next to her sister Mary in Westminster Abbey.
Elizabeth was credited with reigning over England bringing a golden age to all. Elizabeth believed in discussion and therefore was a monarch who consulted her advisors on all matters taking advice bringing crown, church and parliament together amicably on many occasions. Even though Elizabeth established the Church of England as the leading light in England many catholic traits were kept in terms of artefacts and services. Elizabeth was a god fearing monarch who trusted in the almighty and believed she was blessed and to some extent she proved herself right.
Read more about the Tudor period at Wikipaedia