Birth : September, 7 1533
Coronation : January, 15 1559
Reign : November,17 1558 – March, 24 1603
Death : March, 24 1603
Royal House : Tudor
Elizabeth I was Queen of England, Queen of France (in name only) and Queen of Ireland from 17th November until her death. She is sometimes refered as The Virgin Queen (as she never married), Gloriana or Good Queen Bess. She was the fifth and the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I).She reigned for 45 years, during a period marked by increases in English power and influence worlwide and a great religions turmoil within England.
Queen Elizabeth I was born on 7th September 1533 at Greenwich Palace as a daughter of king Henry VIII and his secon wife Anne Boleyn. Her birth was a great disappointment for her father, because he had wanted a son and a hier. He had divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who gave birth to his first daughter Mary to only have another daughter. Anne Boleyn was executed on false charges of incest, witchcraft and adultery on 19th May 1536. Their marrige was declared null and void and both sisters were declared illegitimate and were deprived of their place in the line of succession.
In the next 8 years Elizabeth had 4 stepmothers – Jane Seymour who died giving birth to the king`s longed-for son Edward. Anne of Claves who was divorced, Catherine Howard who was beheaded and the last one was Catherine Parr, who overlived her husband and later married Edward`s uncle Thomas Seymour.
Despite being officially illegitimate Henry VIII reinstated his two daughters in the line of succession. So after his death in 1547 his 9 years old son Edward became a king Edwar VI and that meant that Elizabeth was now second in the line to the throne. Edward was too young to rule himself so his uncle Edward Seymour became the Protctor of England.
As long as her protestant brother remained on the throne, Elizabeth`s position remained save. In 1553, however Edward died at the age of 15. He had left a will which superteded his father`s will and disregarding the Act of Succession from 1544, Edward`s will excluded both sisters from the line to the throne and declared Lady Jane Grey, ward of Thomas Seymour, to become next queen.
Lady Jane ascended the throne but was deposed less than two weeks later when Mary marched to London and was declared a Queen Mary I.
The reign of Mary I
Mary was raised as a Catholic. She married Philip II, king of Spain in order to strenghten the catholic influence in England. She opted a hard line against Protestants, whom she regarded as heretics and a treat to her authority. In the ensuing persecution she came to be known as “Bloody Mary”.
Wyatt`s Rebellion struggled to prevent Mary from marrying Philip II. After its failure Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London for her purported involvement in it. After two months in the Tower, she was put under a house arrest. Whether or not the rebellion was to make Elizabeth queen is uncertain, and there is no evidence whether Elizabeth had any knowledge of the conspirators plans.
It was only at the behest of the Queen's husband, Philip of Spain, that Elizabeth was allowed to return to her childhood home of Hatfield in Hertfordshire. Philip was aware of the Queen's poor health and wanted to gain the friendship of Elizabeth to ensure peaceable relations between England and Spain in case that his wife die and Elizabeth succeed to the throne.
Mary I died in November 1558 and Elizabeth ascended the throne. It is said that she was far more popular than her sister Mary and that after the death of her half-sister the people rejoiced in the streets.
Early reign and Church
Elizabeth`s coronation was held on Sunday 15th January 1559. It was the last one during which the Latin service was used; future coronations used the English service. During her procession to the Tower of London, she was welcomed wholeheartedly by the common people, who performed plays and read poetry exclaiming her beauty and intelligence.
One of the most important concerns during Elizabeth's early reign was religion. Catholicism had been restored under Mary I, but Elizabeth herself was a Protestant, and thus was keen to create a Protestant Church. The Act of Uniformity, which she passed shortly after ascending the throne, required the use of the Protestant Book of Common Prayer in church services.
Many bishops were unwilling to conform to the Elizabethan religious policy. Those bishops were removed from the ecclesiastical bench and replaced by appointees who would agree with the Queen's decision. She also appointed an entirely new Privy Council, removing many Catholic counsellors in the process.
Parliament was summoned in 1559 to consider the Reformation Bill and create a new Church. It allowed ministers to marry, banned images from churches, 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 Bill met massive resistance in the House of Lords, as Catholic bishops as well as the lay peers voted against it.
Elizabeth's chief advisors were Sir William Cecil, as her Secretary of State, and Sir Nicholas Bacon, theLord Keeper of the Great Seal.
Conflicts and Rebellions
The Queen found a dangerous rival in her cousin, the Catholic Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland 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 aggression. A group of Scottish lords allied to Elizabeth deposed Mary of Guise and, under pressure from the English, Mary's representatives signed theTreaty of Edingburgh, 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 Scotland
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 Religions. Elizabeth secretly supported 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 L`Havre.
Mary I Stuart, 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; forcibly 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 1569, Elizabeth faced a major uprising, known as the Northern Rebellion. 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, giving impetus to various conspiracies to remove her from the throne.
In 1579, the Second Desmond Rebellion began in Ireland with the arrival of an invasion force funded by Pope Gregory XIII; but by 1583, the rebellion had been put down after a brutal campaign waged by fire, sword and famine.
The English government also involved itself in the conflict in France, where the throne was claimed by a Protestant heir, Henry (later Henry IV). In 1596, England finally withdrew from France, with Henry IV firmly in control.
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 was declared a traitor in 1595. Seeking to avoid further war, Elizabeth made a series of truces with the earl. In 1598, O'Neill offered a truce, while benefiting 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.
Elizabeth 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 II participated in some conspiracies to remove Elizabeth, albeit reluctantly.
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 ships led to the outbreak of the Anglo-Spanish War in 1585
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 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! And I think it foul scorn that Spain or Parma or any prince of Europe should dare invade the borders of my realm". Thus the legend of Good Queen Bess was born.
The Spanish attempt was defeated by the English fleed. 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 popularity, but it proved far from decisive, and an ambitious strike against Spain in the following year ended in complete failure.
The war continued in the Netherlands, where the Dutch Estates were seeking independence from Spain. 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 ageing Hawkins and Drake.
The Anglo-Spanish War reached a stalemate after Philip II died in 1598. James I negotiated peace in the Treaty of London, 1604
Elizabeth I fell ill in February 1603 and she died on March 24 at Richmond Palace, aged sixty-nine, 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 half-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 resurrection.
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.
Queen and Marriage
Whatever Elizabeth's personal feelings towards marriage, on two occasions she did come close to matrimony. For many years, the most serious contender for her hand was Robert Dudley, created Earl of Leicester in 1564. He and Elizabeth had known each other for years and had been imprisoned in the Tower of London at the same time. He was the only serious personal love interest of the Queen's life. Politically, however, marrying him would have been a disaster. He was unpopular as he was the son of the traitor Northumberland, participant of the Jane Grey matter, and was loathed even more after his wife was found dead in mysterious circumstances. It was thought he had murdered her so he would be free to marry Elizabeth. The other serious contender for the Queen's hand was Francis, Duke of Alencon/Anjou, heir to the French throne. But again, political considerations made the match ultimately impossible.
At the end of 1562 Elizabeth fell ill with smallpox. Year later, alarmed by her near fatal illness, Parliament asked that she marry or nominate an hier to prevent civil war upon her death. She refused to do either.
There were different lines of succession - one led to Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, next hier would have been Lady Catherine Grey and tha last one was Henry Hastings. Each possible hier has his or her disadvantages - Mary was Catolic, Lady Ctaherine had married without Queen`s consent and Henry Hastings was unwilling to accept the Crown.
Not marrying and having a child of her own meant that the succession was unsettled
Her reason for never marrying is unclear. She may have felt repulsed by the mistreatment of Henry VIII's wives, her mother's death always in her mind, or perhaps psychologically scarred by her rumoured childhood relationship with Lord Thomas Seymour while in his household. Contemporary gossip was that she had suffered from a physical defect that she was afraid to reveal, perhaps scarring from smallpox.
Some believe Elizabeth decided that if she could not have Robert Dudley, she would not marry at all. The most likely cause, however, was probably her reluctance to share the power of the Crown with another and her fear that a marriage with a foreigner would provoke the hostility. She also did not want to risk making England a foreign vassal and possibly involving it in the unprofitable and unpopular wars, while marriage to a high-born Englishman would involve England in factional dispute at court. Given the unstable political situation, Elizabeth could have feared an armed struggle among aristocratic factions if she married someone not seen as equally favourable 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 she wed.
In a genius of political wheeling and dealing, she managed to use her single state to benefit the country by using the bait of marriage to draw in enemies, or to frighten them by suggesting she would marry one of their foes.
Personality and Hobbies
As a child, Elizabeth was given a very impressive education. It had become popular amongst the nobility to educate daughters as well as sons and Elizabeth excelled at her studies. She was taught by famous scholars such as William Grindal and Roger Asham, and from an early age it was clear that she was remarkably gifted. By adulthood, she could reputedly speak five languages fluently (French, Latin, Italian, Spanish and Greek).
In terms of personality, Elizabeth was resourceful, determined, short-tempered and exceedingly intelligent. She loved learning. Like her mother she was flirtatious and charismatic. Under the influence of Catherine Parr and Ascham, Elizabeth was raised a Protestant.
A favourite motto for her was video et taceo ("I see and keep silent") .
She loved all kinds of sports, especially horse riding, and in the early years of her reign spent many an hour riding. She also loved hunting, hawking, bear baiting, and watching the male courtiers excel at jousts or other sporting contests. She loved music and dancing, masques, and could even play the virginals and the lute herself with skill. She also loved watching plays and created the atmosphere responsible for the flourishing of the literary masterpieces of the period.
Elizabeth's reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era or the Golden Age. It was a period of famous playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson all flourished during this era.
Francis Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.
Francis Bacon laid out his philosophical and political views.
English colonisation of North America took place under Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert.
Virginia, an English colony in North America and afterwards one of America's original 13 states, was named after Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen".
The reign of Queen Elizabeth I is often referred to as The Golden Age of English history. Though England achieved military victories, Elizabeth was far less pivotal than other monarchs such as Henry V. Elizabeth has also been criticised for her problems in Ireland.
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.
Elizabeth was an immensely popular Queen, and her popularity has waned little with the passing of four hundred years. She is still one of the best loved monarchs, and one of the most admired rulers of all time. She became a legend in her own lifetime, famed for her remarkable abilities and achievements. Yet, about Elizabeth the woman, we know very little. She is an enigma, and was an enigma to her own people.
adultery – cizoložství void – neplatný
deprive – zbavit, vyvlastnit depose – sesadit
heretic – kacíř purported – údajný, domnělý
behest – příkaz conundrum – hlavolam, hádanka
privateer – korzár smallpox – neštovice
joust – turnaj, klání lute – loutna
pivotal – rozhodující, klíčový circumnavigate – obeplout