Elizabeth I King Henry VIII wanted a son. He had been married for seventeen long years and had only been given a daughter named Mary. Someday one of his children would rule England and it was supposed to be a boy. Henry decided he wanted a younger wife who could bear many children, so he formed his own church and re-married Anne Boleyn. This began the life of Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was born on Sunday, September 7 th 1533 at three o' clock in the afternoon. To the King, Anne seemed unable to have any more children. She became pregnant three more times after Elizabeth, only to lose the baby. When Elizabeth was three years old her mother was beheaded for treason and adultery.
Henry had his marriage to Anne declared invalid, making Elizabeth illegitimate. His new wife, Jane Seymour finally gave him a son. His name was Edward. Jane died after childbirth and Henry married three more times and had no other children.
Now that England had a Prince Elizabeth wasn't so important. She didn't live with her father at court, but instead she grew up at the palace of Hatfield, where she had her own governess, servants, and teachers. Elizabeth's teachers were great university scholars. One of her teachers said that her mind had no womanly weakness and that her perseverance and memory were equal to that of a man. When Elizabeth was thirteen, Henry died and her nine year old brother, Edward became King. Edward who had never been strong or healthy died six years after becoming King.
The throne was left to Elizabeth's half sister, Princess Mary. Mary was married to Prince Philip of Spain. Mary was determined to restore Catholicism to England even if it took violence. Many of the Protestants wanted to get rid of Mary and have Elizabeth take over the throne. Mary found out about this and had Elizabeth locked up in the very tower her mother had been in before she was killed.
Elizabeth waited in fear for two months. She was finally released because Mary could find no evidence against her. Elizabeth was sent to a far away palace, with only four decent rooms, where she was kept under house arrest. When some of Mary's subjects stayed faithful to their Protestant faith she burned almost three hundred of them for heresy. This is where she got the nickname 'Bloody Mary.' On November 17, 1558, after ruling for five short years, Mary died. At the age of twenty five Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen of England.
As Queen, one of the first things Elizabeth did was choose her chief advisor, Sir William Cecil (Lord Burghley). He served Elizabeth for forty years, and when he died at the age of seventy-eight, his son Robert took his place. Elizabeth planned to return to the Protestant Church of England. She didn't really care what people believed as long as they attended church every now and then.
Elizabeth had many suitors: Philip II of Spain, Archduke Charles of Austria, Eric XIV of Sweden, the Duke of Alen con, and many others including some Englishmen. Every one expected her to marry so that there would be an heir to the throne. Others thought she would marry to have a man to take care of things that were seen fit for a man. She never said no to the men but she never said yes either. She would only say 'maybe.' She did this to gain time, alliances and influence with other countries. As long as she was single no one could tell her how to run her country.
Elizabeth was in love with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Dudley wasn't important enough to marry a Queen and he already had a wife. Elizabeth and Dudley were life long friends, and he loved and served her for thirty years. When Elizabeth was twenty-nine, she became very sick with smallpox. All of her councilors were very worried and upset. If Elizabeth were to die anyone related to royal family could take over the throne.
That could mean a civil war. When Elizabeth was well they begged her to marry and give England an heir to the throne. It was beginning to look as if she would never do that which meant she would have to choose her successor. That's another thing she wouldn't do.
She was too smart for that. She knew how people would plot and plan to try and get her to choose them. For all of Elizabeth's life men made the mistake of thinking she was 'only a woman.' Elizabeth turned what should have been a weakness into an asset. Since she was a beautiful, young, unmarried queen the people of the court always tried to outdo each other by wearing elaborate clothes and jewels at the dances and festivals.
Elizabeth always showed up beautifully dressed. A foreign visitor at court wrote home, ' It was more to have seen Elizabeth than to have seen England!' Elizabeth had a cousin who was Queen of Scotland. Her name was Mary. She was suspected of planning the death of her husband and marrying the suspected murderer. She was put in prison and her baby son took over the throne. She escaped from prison and went to England to seek help from Elizabeth.
Elizabeth didn't have the heart to send her back because she knew Mary would be killed. If she let her go to France or Spain there would be to much danger. Mary was a Catholic and she had a good claim to the throne of England. The Catholic nations would be tempted to send an army to England and make Mary queen. It was obvious to Elizabeth that Mary must remain in England.
Mary was confined in Sheffield castle. She kept her servants and continued to live like a queen but she wasn't allowed to leave. Mary had not been in prison for very long when she told a servant of the Spanish ambassador to tell the ambassador that if King Philip II of Spain would help her, she would be Queen of England in three months and that Mass would be said all over the country. Within six months powerful Catholic lords in the north of England revolted, and Elizabeth had to send an army to stop them. Elizabeth suspected Mary of secretly communicating with England's enemies, but Mary claimed to be innocent. She wrote Elizabeth sweet letters telling her how she wanted to meet her face to face but would always find excuses for not meeting her.
This strange relationship between the two drug on for twenty years. As Elizabeth entered middle age another French suitor came along. He was very short and very ugly. Elizabeth liked him because he was smart and civilized. She called him her 'frog.' It looked as though England would finally have it's king.
Strangely, Elizabeth's council and her people were against this marriage. People kept hinting for her not to marry by slipping her books that were against the French marriage and they even preached against it in church. Elizabeth decided to give in, not wanting to make the same mistake as her sister Mary. 'The only marriage she would ever have would be to her kingdom.' That was the truth. Queen Elizabeth continued to work hard and serve her people. There were plans to attack England and overthrow Elizabeth, but she never let it happen.
She was strong. Elizabeth lived to a greater age than any English ruler before her. When Elizabeth was seventy, her health faded. She named Mary's son James VI of Scotland as her successor. On March 24, 1603, after 45 years of reigning, Elizabeth died peacefully in her sleep.
And the age she lived in was called the Elizabethan age. Elizabeth contributed so much to the people of her time and even to the people of today. Without Elizabeth we would have never been able to enjoy the work of William Shakespeare. She showed everyone that a woman could do 'a man's job.' Queen Elizabeth's Golden Speech: 'Though you have had - and may have - many mightier and wiser princes sitting in this seat, yet you never had - nor shall have - any that will love you better.' BIBLIOGRAPHY Stanley, Diane and Venema, Peter, Good Queen Bess NY: Macmillan Publishing Co.
, 1990 Starkey, David, Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne NY: Harper Collins Publishers Inc. , 2000 Thomas, Jane Rest, Behind the Mask: The Life of Queen Elizabeth INY: Clarion Books, 1998 Weir, Allison, The Life of Elizabeth INY: Ballantine Books, 1998.