Queen Elizabeth I of England was the queen of England between 1558 and 1603. She governed with relative prosperity and stability for over four decades and is remembered for entrenching Protestantism in England and creating an environment where the arts thrived in England.
Elizabeth Tudor was born in Greenwich, England in September 7, 1533 and had a difficult childhood. At the age of two, her mother was beheaded on the command of her father, King Henry VIII, on questionable allegations of conspiracy and adultery. Elizabeth's ascent to the throne was riddled with tribulations. Though born a princess, her father declared her illegitimate to create way for a male heir, Edward, who was her father’s legitimate son with his third wife, Jane Seymour. Elizabeth was later reinstated as heir and after years of political machinations and intrigues within the royal ranks involving her step-siblings, she eventually succeeded her half-sister, Mary Tudor. She became queen at the age of 25 and ruled England for 44 years.
Queen Elizabeth I is credited with reinstating relative peace and stability in England, especially given that at the time of taking over power, England was at war with France, which significantly drained the royal resources. At the time of assuming the throne, there were serious religious divisions due to the resolve of her predecessor, Mary Tudor, to use extreme means to restore England to Roman Catholicism, including executing 300 Protestants. Elizabeth I managed to end the war with France with the help of a key adviser, William Cecil. For a long time she avoided clashing with Spain and when she finally did, the English navy triumphed over the notorious Spanish Armada in 1588. Several reports claim that the weather played to their advantage in that war. She also restored the Church of England, adopted a moderate religious approach and instituted the Act of Uniformity that established a common book of prayer. While Catholics are said to have been persecuted during her reign, historians disagree.
She refused to marry which earned her the name, the Virgin Queen. She instead used her availability to meet political goals and her diplomatic skills to manage numerous royal matches and suitors. Though she never married, it was rumored that she harbored interest for her court member, Robert Dudley.
Elizabeth I herself had a royal upbringing in which she was tutored in and performed well in music and languages. She loved music and enjoyed watching plays and dancing. Writers and poets paid tribute to the queen by basing characters on her, for instance the character of Gloriana in the poem, "The Faerie Queen", is based on her. Similarly, artists painted her portrait. Queen Elizabeth I is also remembered for using make-up to cultivate a dramatically pale look, the make-up constituted a mixture of lead and vinegar. She loved dressing in beautiful garments made with silver and gold and loved jewelry. Queen Elizabeth I died on March 24, 1603. It is argued that the concoction of vinegar and white lead that she applied to cultivate her pale look could have worsened her health and led to her death.
Significant Accomplishments of Elizabeth I
- Defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588
- Act of Uniformity
- Advance of the arts in Britain
Queen Elizabeth I Quotes
“Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.”
“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.”
“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.”
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