Queen Elizabeth I was considered one of the greatest monarchs in English history. Her reign is often referred to as the “Golden Age”.
Elizabeth was born in 1533, the child of Henry VIII. When she was three years old, her mother Anne Boleyn was executed, and Elizabeth was considered illegitimate. For the next eight years, Elizabeth had many different stepmothers, and historians have debated whether this constant change was the reason Elizabeth never married.
Her early years were difficult ones, and the fact that she even survived these years was a great accomplishment. As princess, she survived a scandal that involved Thomas Seymour, the husband of her stepmother, Katherine Parr. She was imprisoned by her half-sister Mary of Tudor and accused of being involved with the Protestant rebellion. Shortly before her death, Mary released her from the tower. Elizabeth was next in line for the throne.
Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25. She surrounded herself with loyal and intelligent advisors, but was never dominated by them. She was approached by numerous suitors, but dating was not high on her list of priorities. In spite of numerous opportunities, Elizabeth never married, earning her the nickname “The Virgin Queen”.
Some believe that Elizabeth never married because of the poor treatment her stepmothers received at the hands of her father. Others believe that it was because she couldn’t marry her one true love Robert Dudley because he was already married. Dudley was Earl of Leicester and was a prisoner in the Tower of London at the same time as Elizabeth. His wife died under suspicious circumstances a few years later, and some speculate that he had murdered her so he could marry Elizabeth. Marrying him would have been a political disaster, because he was the son of a traitor. The death of his wife would have made marriage to Queen Elizabeth even more scandalous.
The fact that she never married was cause for concern in Parliament. Elizabeth became very ill with smallpox in 1562, and in 1566, Parliament tried to force her to marry. She read a long speech in which she stated that whether she chose to marry or not was entirely her decision. She used her marriage prospects as a political tool.
In 1579, she began discussing the possibility of marrying Duke of Anjou from France. By then she was 46 years old, but she was probably too old to have children and had no real need to get married.
Queen Elizabeth I had many accomplishments during her reign. She re-established the Protestant church in England and became Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She was able to speak several languages, and the arts flourished during her reign. Great explorers and scientific thinking were encouraged.
Queen Elizabeth died in 1603. With her death, the Tudor dynasty came to an end.
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