85 Facts About Elizabeth I


Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed when Elizabeth I was two years old.


Anne's marriage to Henry was annulled, and Elizabeth I was for a time declared illegitimate.


Elizabeth I depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers led by William Cecil, whom she created Baron Burghley.


Elizabeth I was eventually succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland; this laid the foundation for the Kingdom of Great Britain.


Elizabeth I had earlier been reluctantly responsible for the imprisonment and execution of James's mother, Mary, Queen of Scots.


In government, Elizabeth I was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been.


Elizabeth I was cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of France and Spain.


Elizabeth I half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland.


Elizabeth I was the second child of Henry VIII of England born in wedlock to survive infancy.


At birth, Elizabeth I was the heir presumptive to the English throne.


Elizabeth I was declared illegitimate and deprived of her place in the royal succession.


Elizabeth I was placed in her half-brother's household and carried the chrisom, or baptismal cloth, at his christening.


Thomas Seymour engaged in romps and horseplay with the 14-year-old Elizabeth I, including entering her bedroom in his nightgown, tickling her, and slapping her on the buttocks.


Elizabeth I rose early and surrounded herself with maids to avoid his unwelcome morning visits.


Elizabeth I tried to convince Elizabeth to write to Seymour and "comfort him in his sorrow", but Elizabeth claimed that Thomas was not so saddened by her stepmother's death as to need comfort.


Elizabeth I's stubbornness exasperated her interrogator, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, who reported, "I do see it in her face that she is guilty".


Elizabeth I's will ignored the Succession to the Crown Act 1543, excluded both Mary and Elizabeth from the succession, and instead declared as his heir Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII's younger sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France.


Mary, a devout Catholic, was determined to crush the Protestant faith in which Elizabeth I had been educated, and she ordered that everyone attend Catholic Mass; Elizabeth I had to outwardly conform.


Mary's closest confidant, Emperor Charles's ambassador Simon Renard, argued that her throne would never be safe while Elizabeth I lived; and Lord Chancellor Stephen Gardiner, worked to have Elizabeth I put on trial.


Elizabeth I was a better ally than the chief alternative, Mary, Queen of Scots, who had grown up in France and was betrothed to the Dauphin of France.


Elizabeth I became queen at the age of 25, and declared her intentions to her council and other peers who had come to Hatfield to swear allegiance.


Elizabeth I was then presented for the people's acceptance, amidst a deafening noise of organs, fifes, trumpets, drums, and bells.


Elizabeth I was a Protestant, but kept Catholic symbols, and downplayed the role of sermons in defiance of a key Protestant belief.


Elizabeth I was fortunate that many bishoprics were vacant at the time, including the Archbishopric of Canterbury.


Nevertheless, Elizabeth I was forced to accept the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England rather than the more contentious title of Supreme Head, which many thought unacceptable for a woman to bear.


Elizabeth I considered several suitors until she was about fifty.


Elizabeth I was extremely jealous of his affections, even when she no longer meant to marry him herself.


Elizabeth I raised Dudley to the peerage as Earl of Leicester in 1564.


Elizabeth I died shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.


Elizabeth I turned down the hand of Philip, her half-sister's widower, early in 1559 but for several years entertained the proposal of King Eric XIV of Sweden.


Elizabeth I considered marriage to two French Valois princes in turn, first Henry, Duke of Anjou, and then from 1572 to 1581 his brother Francis, Duke of Anjou, formerly Duke of Alencon.


Elizabeth I seems to have taken the courtship seriously for a time, and wore a frog-shaped earring that Francis had sent her.


In 1563, Elizabeth I told an imperial envoy: "If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married".


Elizabeth I's silence strengthened her own political security: she knew that if she named an heir, her throne would be vulnerable to a coup; she remembered the way that "a second person, as I have been" had been used as the focus of plots against her predecessor.


At first, only Elizabeth I made a virtue of her ostensible virginity: in 1559, she told the Commons, "And, in the end, this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin".


Ultimately, Elizabeth I would insist she was married to her kingdom and subjects, under divine protection.


Catholics accused Elizabeth I of engaging in "filthy lust" that symbolically defiled the nation along with her body.


Henry IV of France said that one of the great questions of Europe was "whether Queen Elizabeth I was a maid or no".


Elizabeth I was taken to Madrid for investigation, where he was examined by Francis Englefield, a Catholic aristocrat exiled to Spain and secretary to King Philip II.


Elizabeth I feared that the French planned to invade England and put her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne.


In 1563 Elizabeth I proposed her own suitor, Robert Dudley, as a husband for Mary, without asking either of the two people concerned.


In 1581, to convert English subjects to Catholicism with "the intent" to withdraw them from their allegiance to Elizabeth I was made a treasonable offence, carrying the death penalty.


Only through the activities of her fleets did Elizabeth I pursue an aggressive policy.


Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake after his circumnavigation of the globe from 1577 to 1580, and he won fame for his raids on Spanish ports and fleets.


Elizabeth I enraged Elizabeth by accepting the post of Governor-General from the Dutch States General.


Elizabeth I saw this as a Dutch ploy to force her to accept sovereignty over the Netherlands, which so far she had always declined.


Elizabeth I's "commandment" was that her emissary read out her letters of disapproval publicly before the Dutch Council of State, Leicester having to stand nearby.


The military campaign was severely hampered by Elizabeth I's repeated refusals to send promised funds for her starving soldiers.


Sir Walter Raleigh claimed after her death that Elizabeth I's caution had impeded the war against Spain:.


Elizabeth I had good reason not to place too much trust in her commanders, who once in action tended, as she put it herself, "to be transported with an haviour of vainglory".


In 1589, the year after the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth I sent to Spain the English Armada or Counter Armada with 23,375 men and 150 ships, led by Sir Francis Drake as admiral and Sir John Norreys as general.


Henry's succession was strongly contested by the Catholic League and by Philip II, and Elizabeth I feared a Spanish takeover of the channel ports.


Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, largely ignoring Elizabeth I's orders, roamed northern France to little effect, with an army of 4,000 men.


Between 1594 and 1603, Elizabeth I faced her most severe test in Ireland during the Nine Years' War, a revolt that took place at the height of hostilities with Spain, who backed the rebel leader, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone.


In spring 1599, Elizabeth I sent Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, to put the revolt down.


Elizabeth I was replaced by Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy, who took three years to defeat the rebels.


Elizabeth I continued to maintain the diplomatic relations with the Tsardom of Russia that were originally established by her half-brother, Edward VI.


Elizabeth I often wrote to Tsar Ivan the Terrible on amicable terms, though the Tsar was often annoyed by her focus on commerce rather than on the possibility of a military alliance.


Elizabeth I declared his kingdom open to all foreigners, and dismissed the English ambassador Sir Jerome Bowes, whose pomposity had been tolerated by Ivan.


Elizabeth I continued to appeal to Feodor in half appealing, half reproachful letters.


Elizabeth I proposed an alliance, something which she had refused to do when offered one by Feodor's father, but was turned down.


Elizabeth I "agreed to sell munitions supplies to Morocco, and she and Mulai Ahmad al-Mansur talked on and off about mounting a joint operation against the Spanish".


The period after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 brought new difficulties for Elizabeth I that lasted until the end of her reign.


Elizabeth I was portrayed as Belphoebe or Astraea, and after the Armada, as Gloriana, the eternally youthful Faerie Queene of Edmund Spenser's poem.


Elizabeth I gave Edmund Spenser a pension; as this was unusual for her, it indicates that she liked his work.


Elizabeth I's painted portraits became less realistic and more a set of enigmatic icons that made her look much younger than she was.


The more Elizabeth I's beauty faded, the more her courtiers praised it.


Elizabeth I was happy to play the part, but it is possible that in the last decade of her life she began to believe her own performance.


Elizabeth I became fond and indulgent of the charming but petulant young Earl of Essex, who was Leicester's stepson and took liberties with her for which she forgave him.


Elizabeth I repeatedly appointed him to military posts despite his growing record of irresponsibility.


Elizabeth I knew that her own misjudgements were partly to blame for this turn of events.


Elizabeth I therefore entered into a coded negotiation with James VI of Scotland, who had a strong but unrecognised claim.


James's tone delighted Elizabeth I, who responded: "So trust I that you will not doubt but that your last letters are so acceptably taken as my thanks cannot be lacking for the same, but yield them to you in grateful sort".


Elizabeth I's coffin was carried downriver at night to Whitehall, on a barge lit with torches.


Elizabeth I was lamented by many of her subjects, but others were relieved at her death.


Elizabeth I was praised as a heroine of the Protestant cause and the ruler of a golden age.


The triumphalist image that Elizabeth I 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.


The picture of Elizabeth I painted by her Protestant admirers of the early 17th century has proved lasting and influential.


Elizabeth I's memory was revived during the Napoleonic Wars, when the nation again found itself on the brink of invasion.


Elizabeth I's reign is famous for the defeat of the Armada, and for successful raids against the Spanish, such as those on Cadiz in 1587 and 1596, but some historians point to military failures on land and at sea.


Elizabeth I offered very limited aid to foreign Protestants and failed to provide her commanders with the funds to make a difference abroad.


Elizabeth I established an English church that helped shape a national identity and remains in place today.


Elizabeth I believed that faith was personal and did not wish, as Francis Bacon put it, to "make windows into men's hearts and secret thoughts".


Elizabeth I was the first Tudor to recognise that a monarch ruled by popular consent.


Priding herself on being "mere English", Elizabeth I trusted in God, honest advice, and the love of her subjects for the success of her rule.