Tuesday September 7, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Queen Elizabeth I
On this Day:
In 1533, Elizabeth I Tudor [Virgin Queen], Queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603) and daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, was born in Greenwich, London (d. 1603).
Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death in 1603. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. Or ..who was she? There are some myths about Elizabeth I that were given life by the same mind that created Dracula…
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed when Elizabeth was 21⁄2 years old. Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother Edward VI ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, the Roman Catholic Mary and the younger Elizabeth, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward’s will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.
Upon her half-sister’s death in 1558, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel. She depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the supreme governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir; however, despite numerous courtships, she never did. She was eventually succeeded by her first-cousin twice-removed, James VI of Scotland, laying the foundation for the Kingdom of Great Britain. She had earlier been responsible for the imprisonment and execution of James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots.
In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been. One of her mottoes was “video et taceo” (“I see and keep silent”). In religion, she was relatively tolerant and avoided systematic persecution. After the pope declared her illegitimate in 1570 and released her subjects from obedience to her, several conspiracies threatened her life, all of which were defeated with the help of her ministers’ secret service. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland. By the mid-1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain.
As she grew older, Elizabeth became celebrated for her virginity. A cult of personality grew around her which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day. Elizabeth’s reign became known as the Elizabethan era. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Some historians depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor in an era when government was ramshackle and limited, and when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones. After the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.
Elizabeth was lamented by many of her subjects, but others were relieved at her death. Expectations of King James started high but then declined. By the 1620s, there was a nostalgic revival of the cult of Elizabeth. Elizabeth was praised as a heroine of the Protestant cause and the ruler of a golden age. James was depicted as a Catholic sympathiser, presiding over a corrupt court. The triumphalist image that Elizabeth had cultivated towards the end of her reign, against a background of factionalism and military and economic difficulties, was taken at face value and her reputation inflated. Godfrey Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester, recalled: “When we had experience of a Scottish government, the Queen did seem to revive. Then was her memory much magnified.” Elizabeth’s reign became idealised as a time when crown, church and parliament had worked in constitutional balance.
The picture of Elizabeth painted by her Protestant admirers of the early 17th century has proved lasting and influential. Her memory was also revived during the Napoleonic Wars, when the nation again found itself on the brink of invasion. In the Victorian era, the Elizabethan legend was adapted to the imperial ideology of the day, and in the mid-20th century, Elizabeth was a romantic symbol of the national resistance to foreign threats. Historians of that period, such as J. E. Neale (1934) and A. L. Rowse (1950), interpreted Elizabeth’s reign as a golden age of progress. Neale and Rowse also idealised the Queen personally: she always did everything right; her more unpleasant traits were ignored or explained as signs of stress.
Recent historians, however, have taken a more complicated view of Elizabeth. Her reign is famous for the defeat of the Armada, and for successful raids against the Spanish, such as those on Cádiz in 1587 and 1596, but some historians point to military failures on land and at sea. In Ireland, Elizabeth’s forces ultimately prevailed, but their tactics stain her record. Rather than as a brave defender of the Protestant nations against Spain and the Habsburgs, she is more often regarded as cautious in her foreign policies. She offered very limited aid to foreign Protestants and failed to provide her commanders with the funds to make a difference abroad.
Elizabeth established an English church that helped shape a national identity and remains in place today. Those who praised her later as a Protestant heroine overlooked her refusal to drop all practices of Catholic origin from the Church of England. Historians note that in her day, strict Protestants regarded the Acts of Settlement and Uniformity of 1559 as a compromise. In fact, Elizabeth believed that faith was personal and did not wish, as Francis Bacon put it, to “make windows into men’s hearts and secret thoughts”.
Though Elizabeth followed a largely defensive foreign policy, her reign raised England’s status abroad. “She is only a woman, only mistress of half an island,” marvelled Pope Sixtus V, “and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all”. Under Elizabeth, the nation gained a new self-confidence and sense of sovereignty, as Christendom fragmented. Elizabeth was the first Tudor to recognise that a monarch ruled by popular consent. She therefore always worked with parliament and advisers she could trust to tell her the truth—a style of government that her Stuart successors failed to follow. Some historians have called her lucky; she believed that God was protecting her. Priding herself on being “mere English”, Elizabeth trusted in God, honest advice, and the love of her subjects for the success of her rule. In a prayer, she offered thanks to God that:
[At a time] when wars and seditions with grievous persecutions have vexed almost all kings and countries round about me, my reign hath been peacable, and my realm a receptacle to thy afflicted Church. The love of my people hath appeared firm, and the devices of my enemies frustrate. (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
It was said that Queen Elizabeth I knighted the first cow in history. He was known as Sir Loin.
Second, a Song:
“The last Tudor monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth I, is remembered for many things. She oversaw a long and peaceful 45 year reign, during which she achieved the defeat of the Spanish Armada and revived the arts and science. Her personal qualities, such as a steely determination and high intelligence, including fluency in six different languages, gave rise to her esteemed place in history. Known as the ‘Virgin Queen’, her legacy has also inspired some myth making about her true identity. An antiquated fringe theory has emerged which alleges that Elizabeth was actually a man. Here we examine the evidence…
Here at Weird World we explore strange and fascinating topics related to history, mysteries and the bizarre. Learn something new every week!” (Per YouTube.com).
Here is “The Untold Secret of Queen Elizabeth I” by Weird World. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“I do not want a husband who honours me as a queen, if he does not love me as a woman.” – Elizabeth I
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky
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