Elizabeth I (b. 1533 r.1558-1603)
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Elizabeth I (b. 1533 r.1558-1603)

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Elizabeth I became queen at the age of 25, on the death of her half-sister Mary I. She reigned for 45 years, until 1603, and is regarded as one of the greatest Queens of England, in whose reign the country grew into a world power. She never married, though she was often sought in marriage, and indeed she toyed with several such approaches, as well as conducting public flirtations with some of her courtiers. Like her father, Henry VIII, Elizabeth was strong-willed and domineering, but unlike him she was loyal and fair to those under her. Her reign saw the flowering of literature, music and poetry.

This is based on a painting by Hans Eworth at Hampton Court

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Palma or Spain or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm.
Elizabeth I.

(2) Elizabeth I (b. 1533 r.1558-1603)

Additional Information on
Elizabeth I (b. 1533 r.1558-1603)

Elizabeth was the child of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and ascended the throne on the death of her elder half sister Mary I. Despite a traumatic early life - her mother being executed when she was only three years old and having been imprisoned by Mary during her reign - Elizabeth displayed a strong sense of purpose and was a wise and well liked monarch. She was red-headed and of average height, regarded as handsome rather than beautiful, and was seen as a graceful and tolerant woman. The fact that she was also mean, vain and impulsive never seemed to worry the numerous suitors she had throughout her reign - although it has been said that she was more in love with the idea of love than marriage, and so she never married and had no children.

Elizabeth restored the Protestant religion in England, closing down all the refounded Catholic monasteries and made herself Supreme Head of a single English church - as her father Henry III had been. She was very like Henry - strong willed and domineering - but unlike him was fair, loyal and respectful of her servants. The two most important appointments in her reign were held by William Cecil and Matthew Parker. Cecil was Elizabeth's principle adviser and minister for over forty years, creating important financial reforms and supporting the Protestant cause in Europe. Parker was the Archbishop of Canterbury, and helped to establish a moderate Church of England after Mary's persecutions.

Elizabeth's reign saw a flowering of the arts, of exploration and invention. Painters, musicians and poets were all welcomed at her court, and the period also gave rise to some of the greatest of English writers e.g. Shakespeare and Marlowe. Inventions such as the flush lavatory and water pumpage systems were introduced to some London houses. In 1581 Sir Francis Drake was knighted after completing the first English round the world voyage - travel greatly increased English trade and prosperity during this period. Towards the end of her reign, Elizabeth had to contend with the war fleets, the Armadas, sent by King Philip of Spain to attack England. However, the English forces commanded by Drake easily defeated them.


Queen Elizabeth is the greatest of English, perhaps of all modern sovereigns. In a period remarkable for long and sanguinary wars, she made her name respected abroad without waste of blood or treasure; and, in a time of great political ferment, she maintained the most absolute authority at home, without any loss of the affections of her people. She obtained glory without conquest, and unlimited power without odium.
- Lord John Russell, The English Government and Constitution.

When she smiled, it was pure sunshine, that everyone did choose to bask in, if they could; but anon came a storm from a sudden gathering of clouds, and the thunder fell in wondrous manner on all alike.
- Sir John Harrington, Nugae Antiquae.

Her teeth are very yellow and unequal. Many of them are missing so that one cannot understand her easily when she speaks quickly.
- André Hurault, reporting to Henry IV of France, 1597.

She did fish for men's souls, and had so sweet a bait that no one could escape her network.
- Sir Christopher Hatton.

There is no evidence that Elizabeth had much taste for painting, but she loved pictures of herself
- Horace Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting in England, 1771.

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