Queen Elizabeth I
(7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603 ) was Queen of England
and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes referred
to as The Virgin Queen
(since she was never married), Gloriana
Good Queen Bess
, Elizabeth I was the fifth and final monarch of the Tudor
dynasty, having succeeded her half-sister, Mary I. She reigned during a period
of great religious turmoil in English history.
Elizabeth's reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era or the Golden Age and
was marked by increases in English power and influence worldwide. Playwrights
William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson all flourished during
this era. In addition, Francis Drake became the first Englishman to
circumnavigate the globe; Francis Bacon laid out his philosophical and political
views; and English colonisation of North America took place under Sir Walter
Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Elizabeth was a short-tempered and sometimes
indecisive ruler. This last quality, viewed with impatience by her counsellors,
often saved her from political and marital misalliances. Like her father Henry
VIII, she was a writer and poet. She granted Royal Charters to several famous
organizations, including Trinity College, Dublin (1592) and the British East
India Company (1600).
The reign was marked by prudence in the granting of honours and dignities.
Only eight peerage dignities, one earldom and seven baronies in the Peerage of
England, and one barony in the Peerage of Ireland, were created during
Elizabeth's reign. Elizabeth also reduced the number of Privy Counsellors from
thirty-nine to nineteen, and later to fourteen.
Virginia, the first English colony in North America and currently one of the
50 United States, was named after Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen".
Elizabeth was the only surviving child of King Henry VIII of England by his
second wife, Anne Boleyn, Marchioness of Pembroke, whom he secretly married
sometime between the winter of 1532 and late January of 1533. She was born in
the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, on September 7, 1533. Henry would have
preferred a son to ensure the Tudor succession, but upon her birth, Elizabeth
was the heiress presumptive to the throne of England.
Her surviving paternal aunts included Margaret Tudor and Mary Tudor. Her
maternal aunt was Lady Mary Boleyn. Her maternal uncle was George Boleyn,
After Queen Anne failed to produce a male heir, Henry had her executed on
charges of treason (adultery against the King was considered treason), incest
with her elder brother and witchcraft. Elizabeth was three years old at that
time and was also declared illegitimate and lost the title of princess.
Thereafter she was addressed as Lady Elizabeth and lived in exile from her
father as he married his succession of wives. Henry's last wife Catherine Parr
helped reconcile the King with Elizabeth, and she, along with her half-sister,
Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, was reinstated in the line of succession
after Prince Edward under the Act of Succession 1544.
Elizabeth's first governess was Lady Margaret Bryan, a baroness whom
Elizabeth called "Muggie". At the age of four, Elizabeth had a new governess,
Katherine Chapernowne, who was often referred to as "Kat". Chapernowne developed
a close relationship with Elizabeth and remained her confidante and good friend
for life. She had been appointed to Elizabeth's household before Anne Boleyn's
death. Matthew Parker, her mother's favourite priest, took a special interest in
Elizabeth's well-being, particularly since a fearful Anne had entrusted her
daughter's spiritual welfare to Parker before her death. Later, Parker would
become the first Archbishop of Canterbury after Elizabeth became queen in 1558.
One companion, to whom she referred with affection throughout her life, was the
Irishman Thomas Butler, later 3rd Earl of Ormonde (ob.1615).
In terms of personality, Elizabeth was far more like her mother than her
father: neurotic, glamorous, flirtatious, charismatic and religiously tolerant.
Elizabeth also inherited her mother's delicate bone structure, physique and
facial features. She also inherited her mother's onyx black eyes and petite
girth and not her father's enormous weight. However, from her father she did
inherit her red hair.
Henry VIII died in 1547 and was succeeded by Edward VI. Catherine Parr
married Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Edward VI's uncle, and
took Elizabeth into her household. It is believed that Seymour made advances
towards Elizabeth while she lived in his household. There, Elizabeth received
her education under Roger Ascham. She came to speak or read six languages: her
native English, as well as French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Latin. Under the
influence of Catherine Parr and Ascham, Elizabeth was raised a Protestant.
As long as her Protestant half-brother remained on the throne, Elizabeth's
own position remained secure. In 1553, however, Edward died at the age of
fifteen, having left a will which purported to supersede his father's.
Contravening the Act of Succession 1544, it excluded both Mary and Elizabeth
from succeeding to the throne and declared Lady Jane Grey to be his heiress.
Lady Jane ascended the throne, but was deposed less than two weeks later. Armed
with popular support, Mary rode triumphantly into London, her half-sister
Elizabeth at her side.
Mary I contracted a marriage with the Spanish prince Philip, later King
Philip II of Spain, and she worried that the people might depose her and put
Elizabeth on the throne in her stead. Wyatt's Rebellion in 1554 sought to
prevent Mary from marrying Philip and, after its failure, Elizabeth was
imprisoned in the Tower of London. There were demands for Elizabeth's execution,
but few Englishmen wished to put a member of the popular Tudor dynasty to death.
Mary attempted to remove Elizabeth from the line of succession, but Parliament
would not allow it. After two months in the Tower, Elizabeth was put under house
arrest under the guard of Sir Henry Bedingfield; by the end of that year, when
Mary was falsely rumoured to be pregnant, Elizabeth was allowed to return to
court at Philip's behest, as he worried that his wife might die in childbirth,
in which case he preferred Lady Elizabeth to succeed rather than her
next-closest relative, Mary I of Scotland. For the remainder of her reign, the
staunchly Catholic Mary persecuted Protestants, and came to be known as "Bloody
Mary" because of a desire to present her assertion of authority as cruel. She
urged Elizabeth to take the faith, but the princess kept up a skilful show of
allegiance to suit her own conscience and ambitions.
Elizabeth I Armada Portrait
In 1558, upon Mary I's death, Elizabeth ascended the throne. She was far more
popular than her sister, and it is said that upon Mary's death, the people
rejoiced in the streets.
Elizabeth was crowned on 15 January 1559. There was no Archbishop of
Canterbury at the time; Reginald Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic holder of the
office, had died shortly after Mary I. Since the senior bishops declined to
participate in the coronation (since Elizabeth was illegitimate under both canon
law and statute and since she was a Protestant), the relatively unimportant Owen
Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle had to crown her. The communion was celebrated
not by Oglethorpe, but by the Queen's personal chaplain, to avoid the usage of
the Roman rites. Elizabeth I's coronation was the last one during which the
Latin service was used; future coronations used the English service. She later
persuaded her mother's chaplain, Matthew Parker, to become Archbishop. He only
accepted out of loyalty to Anne Boleyn's memory, since he found working with
Elizabeth difficult at times.
One of the most important concerns during Elizabeth's early reign was
religion; she relied primarily on Sir William Cecil for advice on the matter.
The Act of Uniformity 1559 required the use of the Protestant Book of Common
Prayer in church services. Papal control over the Church of England had been
reinstated under Mary I, but was ended by Elizabeth. The Queen assumed the title
"Supreme Governor of the Church of England", rather than "Supreme Head",
primarily because several bishops and many members of the public felt that a
woman could not be the head of the Church. The Act of Supremacy 1559 required
public officials to take an oath acknowledging the Sovereign's control over the
Church or face severe punishment.
Many bishops were unwilling to conform to the Elizabethan religious policy.
These were removed from the ecclesiastical bench and replaced by appointees who
would submit to the Queen's supremacy. She also appointed an entirely new Privy
Council, removing many Catholic counsellors in the process. Under Elizabeth,
factionalism in the Council and conflicts at court were greatly diminished.
Elizabeth's chief advisors were Sir William Cecil, a Secretary of State, and Sir
Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.
Elizabeth also reduced Spanish influence in England. Though Philip II aided
her in ending the Italian Wars with the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis, Elizabeth
remained independent in her diplomacy. She adopted a principle of "England for
the English". Her other realm, Ireland, never benefited from such a philosophy.
The enforcement of English customs in Ireland proved unpopular with its
inhabitants, as did the Queen's religious policies.
Soon after her accession, many questioned whom Elizabeth would marry. Her
reason for never marrying is unclear. She may have felt repulsed by the
mistreatment of Henry VIII's wives. Alternatively, she may have been
psychologically scarred by her rumoured childhood relationship with Lord
Seymour. Contemporary gossip was that she had suffered from a physical defect
that she was afraid to reveal, perhaps scarring from smallpox. There were also
rumors that she would only marry one man, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester,
with whom she was deeply in love. However, her council refused to sanction the
marriage because of his status and his family's participation in the Lady Jane
Grey matter. Elizabeth decided that if she couldn't have him, she would not
marry at all. It is also possible that Elizabeth did not wish to share the power
of the Crown with another. It could also have been that given the unstable
political situation Elizabeth could have feared an armed struggle among
aristocratic factions if she married someone not seen as equally favorable to
all factions. What is known for certain is that marrying anyone would have cost
Elizabeth large amounts of money and independence as all of the estates and
incomes Elizabeth inherited from her father, Henry VIII, were only hers until
Conflict with France and Scotland
The Queen found a dangerous rival in her cousin, the Catholic Mary Stuart,
Queen of Scots and wife of the French King Francis II. In 1559, Mary had
declared herself Queen of England with French support. In Scotland, Mary
Stuart's mother, Mary of Guise attempted to cement French influence by providing
for army fortification against English agresssion. A group of Scottish lords
allied to Elizabeth deposed Mary of Guise and, under pressure from the English,
Mary's representatives signed the Treaty of Edinburgh, which led to the
withdrawal of French troops. Though Mary vehemently refused to ratify the
treaty, it had the desired effect, and French influence was greatly reduced in
Upon the death of her husband Francis II, Mary Stuart had returned to
Scotland. In France, meanwhile, conflict between the Catholics and the Huguenots
led to the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion. Elizabeth secretly gave aid
to the Huguenots. She made peace with France in 1564; she agreed to give up her
claims to the last English possession on the French mainland, Calais, after the
defeat of an English expedition at Le Havre. Elizabeth, however, did not give up
her claim to the French Crown, which had been maintained since the reign of
Edward III during the period of the Hundred Years' War in the fourteenth
century, and was not renounced until the reign of George III during the
Plots and rebellions
At the end of 1562, Elizabeth had fallen ill with smallpox, but later
recovered. In 1563, alarmed by the Queen's near-fatal illness, parliament
demanded that she marry or nominate an heir to prevent civil war upon her death.
She refused to do either, and in April, she prorogued parliament. Parliament did
not reconvene until Elizabeth needed its assent to raise taxes in 1566. The
House of Commons threatened to withhold funds until the Queen agreed to provide
for the succession, but Elizabeth still refused.
Different lines of succession were considered during Elizabeth's reign. One
possible line was that of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's elder sister, which led
to Mary I, Queen of Scots. The alternative line descended from Henry VIII's
younger sister, Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk; the heir in this line would be
the Lady Catherine Grey, Lady Jane Grey's sister. An even more distant possible
successor was Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, who could claim descent
only from Edward III, who reigned during the fourteenth century. Each possible
heir had his or her disadvantages: Mary I was a Catholic, Lady Catherine Grey
had married without the Queen's consent and the Puritan Lord Huntingdon was
unwilling to accept the Crown.
Mary, Queen of Scots, had to suffer her own troubles in Scotland. Elizabeth
had suggested that if she married the Protestant Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of
Leicester, then Elizabeth would "proceed to the inquisition of her right and
title to be our next cousin and heir." Mary Stuart refused, and in 1565 married
a Catholic, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Lord Darnley was murdered in 1567 after
the couple had several disputes, and Mary then married the alleged murderer,
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Scottish nobles then rebelled, imprisoning
Mary and forcing her to abdicate in favour of her infant son, who consequently
became James VI.
In 1568, the last viable English heir to the throne, Catherine Grey, died.
She had left a son, but he was deemed illegitimate. Her heiress was her sister,
the Lady Mary Grey, a hunchbacked dwarf. Elizabeth was once again forced to
consider a Scottish successor, from the line of her father's sister, Margaret
Tudor, Queen of Scots. Mary I, however, was unpopular in Scotland, where she had
been imprisoned. She later escaped from her prison and fled to England, where
she was captured by English forces. Elizabeth was faced with a conundrum:
sending her back to the Scottish nobles was deemed too cruel; sending her to
France would put a powerful pawn in the hands of the French king; forcefully
restoring her to the Scottish Throne may have been seen as an heroic gesture,
but would cause too much conflict with the Scots; and imprisoning her in England
would allow her to participate in plots against the Queen. Elizabeth chose the
last option: Mary was kept confined for eighteen years, much of it in Sheffield
Castle and Sheffield Manor in the custody of George Talbot, 6th Earl of
Shrewsbury, and his redoubtable wife Bess of Hardwick.
In 1569, Elizabeth faced a major uprising, known as the Northern Rebellion,
instigated by Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, Charles Neville, 6th Earl of
Westmorland and Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland. Pope Pius V aided the
Catholic Rebellion by excommunicating Elizabeth and declaring her deposed in a
Papal Bull. The Bull of Deposition, Regnans in Excelsis, was only issued
in 1570, arriving after the Rebellion had been put down. After the Bull of
Deposition was issued, however, Elizabeth chose not to continue her policy of
religious toleration. She instead began the persecution of her religious
enemies, leading to various conspiracies to remove her from the Throne.
Elizabeth then found a new enemy in her brother-in-law, Philip II, King of
Spain. After Philip had launched a surprise attack on the English privateers Sir
Francis Drake and John Hawkins in 1568, Elizabeth assented to the detention of a
Spanish treasure ship in 1569. Philip was already involved in putting down a
rebellion in the Netherlands, and could not afford to declare war on England.
Philip II participated in some conspiracies to remove Elizabeth, albeit
reluctantly. The 4th Duke of Norfolk was also involved in the first of these
plots, the Ridolfi Plot of 1571. After the Catholic Ridolfi Plot was discovered
(much to Elizabeth's shock) and foiled, the Duke of Norfolk was executed and
Mary lost the little liberty she had remaining. Spain, which had been friendly
to England since Philip's marriage to Elizabeth's predecessor, ceased to be on
In 1571, Sir William Cecil was created Baron Burghley; a wise and humorous
man, who always advised caution in international relations, he had been
Elizabeth's chief advisor from the earliest days, and he remained so until his
death in 1598. In 1572, Burghley was raised to the powerful position of Lord
High Treasurer; his post as Secretary of State was taken up by the head of
Elizabeth's spy network, Sir Francis Walsingham.
Also in 1572, Elizabeth made an alliance with France. The St Bartholomew's
Day Massacre, in which thousands of French Protestants (Huguenots) were killed,
strained the alliance but did not break it. Elizabeth even began marriage
negotiations with Henry, Duke of Anjou (later King Henry III of France and of
Poland), and afterwards with his younger brother François, Duke of Anjou and
Alençon. During the latter's visit in 1581, it is said that Elizabeth "drew off
a ring from her finger and put it upon the Duke of Anjou's upon certain
conditions betwixt them two". The Spanish Ambassador reported that she actually
declared that the Duke of Anjou would be her husband. However, Anjou, who is in
any case said to have preferred men to women, returned to France and died in
1584 before he could be married.
Conflict with Spain and Ireland
In 1580, Pope Gregory XIII sent a force to aid the second of the Desmond
Rebellions in Ireland; but by 1583, the rebellion had been put down after a
campaign waged by fire, sword and famine, in which almost the entire population
of the north-western part of the province of Munster appears to have died;
chilling, albeit approving, observations on the campaign are set out in A
View of the Present State of Ireland by the poet, Edmund Spenser (first
licensed for publication in 1633, four decades after it was written).
Also in 1580, Philip II annexed Portugal, and with the Portuguese throne came
the command of the high seas. After the assassination of the Dutch Stadholder
William I, England began to side openly with the United Provinces of the
Netherlands, who were at the time rebelling against Spanish rule. This, together
with economic conflict with Spain and English piracy against Spanish colonies
(which included an English alliance with Islamic Morocco), led to the outbreak
of the Anglo-Spanish War in 1585 and in 1586 the Spanish ambassador was expelled
from England for his participation in conspiracies against Elizabeth. Fearing
such conspiracies, Parliament had passed the Act of Association 1584, under
which anyone associated with a plot to murder the Sovereign would be excluded
from the line of succession. However, a further scheme against Elizabeth, the
Babington Plot, was revealed by Sir Francis Walsingham, who headed the English
spy network. Having put the court on full proof of the charge, Mary Stuart was
convicted of complicity in the plot on foot of disputed evidence and executed at
Fotheringhay Castle on February 8, 1587.
In her will, Mary had left Philip her claim to the English Throne; under
force of the threat from Elizabeth's policies in the Netherlands and the east
Atlantic, Philip set out his plans for an invasion of England. In April 1587,
Sir Francis Drake burned part of the Spanish fleet at Cádiz, delaying Philip's
plans. In July 1588, the Spanish Armada, a grand fleet of 130 ships bearing over
30,000 men, set sail in the expectation of conveying a Spanish invasion force
under the command of the Duke of Parma across the English Channel from the
Netherlands. Elizabeth encouraged her troops with a notable speech, known as the
Speech to the Troops at Tilbury, in which she famously declared, "I know I have
the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a
King, and of a King of England too".
The Spanish attempt was defeated by the English fleet under Charles Howard,
2nd Baron Howard of Effingham and Sir Francis Drake, aided by bad weather. The
Armada was forced to return to Spain, with appalling losses on the north and
west coasts of Ireland; the victory tremendously increased Elizabeth's
The battle, however, was not decisive, and the war continued in the
Netherlands, where the Dutch Estates were seeking independence from Spain. The
English government was also concerned with the conflict in France and the claim
to the throne of a protestant heir, Henry (later Henry IV). Elizabeth sent
20,000 troops and subsidies of over £300,000 to Henry, and 8,000 troops and
subsidies of over £1,000,000 to the Dutch.
English privateers continued to attack Spanish treasure ships from the
Americas; the most famous privateers included Sir John Hawkins and Sir Martin
Frobisher. In 1595 and 1596, a disastrous expedition on the Spanish Main led to
the deaths of the aging Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake. Also in 1595,
Spanish troops under the command of Don Carlos de Amesquita landed in Cornwall,
where they routed a large English militia and burned some villages, before
celebrating a mass and retiring in the face of a naval force led by Sir Walter
In 1596, England finally withdrew from France, with Henry IV firmly in
control. He had assumed the throne, commenting with double-edged irony that,
"Paris is worth a mass"; the Holy League, which opposed him, had been
demolished, and Elizabeth's diplomacy was beset with a new set of problems; at
the same time, the Spanish had landed a considerable force of tercios in
Brittany, which had expelled the English forces that were present and presented
a new front in the war, with an added threat of invasion across the channel.
Elizabeth sent a further 2,000 troops to France after the Spanish took Calais.
Then she authorised an attack on the Azores in 1597, but the attempt was a
disastrous failure. Further battles continued until 1598, when France and Spain
finally made peace. The Anglo-Spanish War, meanwhile, reached a stalemate after
Philip II died later in the year. In part because of the war, Raleigh and
Gilbert's overseas colonisation attempts came to nothing, and the English
settlement of North America was stalled, until James I negotiated peace in the
Treaty of London, 1604.
In 1598, Elizabeth's chief advisor, Lord Burghley, died. His political mantle
was inherited by his son, Robert Cecil, who had previously become Secretary of
State in 1590. Elizabeth became somewhat unpopular because of her practice of
granting royal monopolies the abolition of which Parliament continued to demand.
In her famous "Golden Speech", Elizabeth promised reforms. Shortly thereafter,
twelve royal monopolies were ended by royal proclamation; further sanctions
could be sought in the courts of common law. These reforms, however, were only
superficial; the practice of deriving funds from the grants of monopolies
At the same time as England was fighting Spain, it also faced a rebellion in
Ireland, known as the Nine Years War. The chief executor of Crown authority in
the north of Ireland, Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, was declared a traitor
in 1595. Seeking to avoid further war, Elizabeth made a series of truces with
the earl; but during this period, Spain attempted two further armada expeditions
against northern Europe, although both failed owing to adverse weather
conditions. In 1598, O Neill offered a truce, while benefitting from Spanish aid
in the form of arms and training; upon expiry of the truce, the English suffered
their worst defeat in Ireland at the Battle of the Yellow Ford.
In 1599, one of the leading members of the navy, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of
Essex, was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and given command of the largest
army ever sent to Ireland, in an attempt to defeat the rebels. Essex's campaign
was soon dissipated, and after a private parley with O Neill - in which the
latter sat on horseback in the middle of a river - it became clear that victory
was out of reach. In 1600, Essex returned to England without the Queen's
permission, where he was punished by the loss of all political offices and of
the trade monopolies, which were his principal income.
The succession to the throne had been the ultimate political concern in
England since Mary Stuart's arrival in Scotland in the 1560's, and by the end of
the century there was only one question in the minds of Elizabeth's advisors:
who next? It is in this context that the behaviour of Essex is best explained.
In 1601, he led a revolt against the Queen, but popular support was curiously
lacking, and the former darling of the masses was executed.
Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy, a bookish man who liked to wrap himself
up in scarves, was sent to Ireland to replace Essex. With ruthless intent,
Mountjoy attempted to blockade O Neill's troops and starve his people into
submission; the campaign effectively cast the English strategy of the earlier
Desmond Rebellion (1580-83) into a larger theatre, with proportionatley greater
casualties. In 1601, The Spanish sent over 3,000 troops to aid the Irish, with
the justification that their intervention countered Elizabeth's previous aid to
the Dutch rebels in the campaign against Spanish rule. After a devastating
winter siege, Mountjoy defeated both the Spanish and the Irish forces at the
Battle of Kinsale; O Neill surrendered a few days after Elizabeth's death in
1603, although the fact of her death was concealed from the supplicant rebel
with great skill and irony on Mountjoy's part.
During her last ailment, the Queen is reported to have declared that she had
sent "wolves, not shepherds, to govern Ireland, for they have left me nothing to
govern over but ashes and carcasses" (The Sayings of Queen Elizabeth
(1925) p.?). Elizabeth's successor promoted Mountjoy to the office of Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland, an office in which he showed skill and moderation, until
his early death in 1605.
Elizabeth I fell ill in February 1603, suffering from frailty and insomnia.
After a period of distressing reflection, she died on March 24 at Richmond
Palace, aged 69, the oldest English Sovereign ever to have reigned; the mark was
not surpassed until George II died in his seventy-seventh year in 1760.
Elizabeth was buried in Westminster Abbey, immediately next to her sister Mary
I. The Latin inscription on their tomb translates to "Partners both in Throne
and grave, here rest we two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of one
The will of Henry VIII declared that Elizabeth was to be succeeded by the
descendants of his younger sister, Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk, rather than
by the Scottish descendants of his elder sister, Margaret Tudor. If the will
were upheld, then Elizabeth would have been succeeded by Lady Anne Stanley. If,
however, the rules of male primogeniture were upheld, the successor would be
James VI, King of Scots. Still other claimants were possible. They included
Edward Seymour, Baron Beauchamp (the illegitimate son of the Lady Catherine
Grey) and William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby (Lady Anne Stanley's uncle).
It is sometimes claimed that Elizabeth named James her heir on her deathbed.
According to one story, when asked whom she would name her heir, she replied,
"Who could that be but my cousin Scotland?". According to another, she said,
"Who but a King could succeed a Queen?". Finally, a third legend suggests that
she remained silent until her death. There is no evidence to prove any of these
tales. In any event, none of the alternative heirs pressed their claims to the
Throne. James VI was proclaimed King of England as James I a few hours after
Elizabeth's death. James I's proclamation broke precedent because it was issued
not by the new Sovereign him or herself, but by a Council of Accession, as James
was in Scotland at the time. Accession Councils, rather than new Sovereigns,
continue to issue proclamations in modern practice.
Elizabeth proved to be one of the most popular monarchs in English or British
history. She placed seventh in the 100 Greatest Britons poll, which was
conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 2002, outranking all other
British monarchs. In 2005, in the History Channel documentary Britain's
Greatest Monarch, a group of historians and commentators analysed twelve
British monarchs and gave them overall marks out of 60 for greatness (they
were marked out of 10 in six categories, such as military prowess and legacy).
Elizabeth I was the winner, with 48 points.
Many historians, however, have a less idealized view of Elizabeth's reign.
Though England achieved military victories, Elizabeth was far less pivotal than
other monarchs such as Henry V. Elizabeth has also been criticised for
supporting the English slave trade. Her attitude toward Ireland also serves to
blemish her record.
Elizabeth was a successful monarch, helping steady the nation even after
inheriting an enormous national debt from her sister Mary. Under her, England
managed to avoid a crippling Spanish invasion. Elizabeth was also able to
prevent the outbreak of a religious or civil war on English soil. Her
achievements, however, were greatly magnified after her death. She was depicted
in later years as a great defender of Protestantism in Europe. In reality,
however, she often wavered before coming to the aid of her Protestant allies. As
Sir Walter said in relation to her foreign policy, "Her Majesty did all by
Many artists glorified Elizabeth I and masked her age in their portraits.
Elizabeth was often painted in rich and stylised gowns. Elizabeth is often shown
holding a sieve, a symbol of virginity.
Benjamin Britten wrote an opera, Gloriana, about the relationship
between Elizabeth and Lord Essex, composed for the coronation of Elizabeth II of
the United Kingdom.
Notable portrayals of Queen Elizabeth in film and television have been
plentiful; in fact, she is the most filmed British monarch. Those who have made
an impression in the role of Elizabeth in the last 100 years, have included
French actress Sarah Bernhardt in Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth
(1912), Florence Eldridge in Mary of Scotland (1936), Flora Robson in
Fire Over England (1937) and The Lion Has Wings (1939), Bette Davis
in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) and The Virgin
Queen (1955) and Jean Simmons in Young Bess (1953). In recent years,
the story of Elizabeth has been filmed more than ever. In 1998 Australian
actress Cate Blanchett made her big break and received an Academy Award
nomination for Best Actress for her critically acclaimed performance in
Elizabeth. The same year British actress Judi Dench won an Academy Award for
her supporting performance as the Virgin Queen in the popular Shakespeare in
Love, a performance of only eleven minutes (the shortest ever to win an
Oscar). In television, the actresses Glenda Jackson (in the BBC drama series
Elizabeth R in 1971, and the 1972 historical film Mary Queen of Scots)
and Miranda Richardson (in the 1986 classic BBC sitcom Blackadder — a
comic interpretation of Elizabeth known fondly as Queenie) both played the role
with consummate talent, creating memorable (if wildly contrasting) portraits of
Elizabeth I. Most recently, Anne Marie Duff has portrayed her in Masterpiece
Theatre's The Virgin Queen, and Helen Mirren in BBC4 production
focusing on Elizabeth's relationship with the Earl of Essex.
There have been many novels written about Elizabeth. They include: I,
Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles, The Virgin's Lover and The Queen's
Fool by Philippa Gregory, Queen of This Realm by Jean Plaidy, and
Virgin: Prelude to the Throne by Robin Maxwell. Elizabeth's story is spliced
with her mother's in Maxwell's book The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn.
Maxwell also writes of a fictional child Elizabeth and Dudley had in The
Queen's Bastard. Decades ago, Margaret Irwin produced a trilogy based on
Elizabeth's youth: Young Bess, Elizabeth, Captive Princess and
Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain.
In children's and young adults' fiction, Elizabeth's story is told in
Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor, a book in the Royal Diaries
series published by Scholastic, and also in Beware, Princess Elizabeth by
Style and arms
Like her predecessors since Henry VIII, Elizabeth used the style "Majesty",
as well as "Highness" and "Grace". "Majesty", which Henry VIII first used on a
consistent basis, did not become exclusive until the reign of Elizabeth's
successor, James I.
Elizabeth I used the official style "Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, Queen of
England, France and Ireland, Fidei defensor, etc.". Whilst most of the style
matched the styles of her predecessors, Elizabeth I was the first to use "etc.".
It was inserted into the style with a view to restoring the phrase "of the
Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head", which had been
added by Henry VIII but later removed by Mary I. The supremacy phrase was never
actually restored, and "etc." remained in the style, to be removed only in 1801.
She has been retroactively known as Queen Elizabeth I since the accession of
Elizabeth II in 1952. Prior to that time she was referred to as Queen Elizabeth.
Elizabeth's arms were the same as those used by Henry IV: Quarterly, Azure
three fleurs-de-lys Or (for France) and Gules three lions passant guardant in
pale Or (for England). Whilst her Tudor predecessors had used a gold lion
and a red dragon as heraldic supporters, Elizabeth used a gold lion and a gold
dragon. Elizabeth also adopted one of her mother's mottoes, Semper Eadem
("Always the Same").
Queen Elizabeth was truly a Machiavellian ruler; she was loved
and feared all at the same time.
A monarch that has captured many historians
I LOVE HER. - she's an inspiration to all monarchs
Its quite interesting