Elizabeth Tudor
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Elizabeth Tudor (1533 - 1603)

Elizabeth "Elizabeth I Queen of England" Tudor
Born in Greenwich, Kent, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Died in Richmond, Surrey, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 3 Aug 2008
This page has been accessed 61,871 times.
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Preceded by
Mary I
Queen of England and Ireland
17 Nov 1558 - 24 Mar 1603
Succeeded by
James I



The House of Tudor crest.
Elizabeth Tudor is a member of the House of Tudor.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1558-1603)

Known as ‘Gloriana’, the first Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) is remembered as one of England’s most influential monarchs.[1] A descendant of the Tudor line, Elizabeth’s 45-year reign was colorized by great successes and a jubilant Elizabethan Age. But unlike previous sovereigns, receipt of the crown would not come as a simple birthright for Elizabeth.[2]

Early Life

Elizabeth was born between 3 and 4 pm on 7 September 1553, at Greenwich Palace in Kent. She was christened on 10 September 1553 at the Friars Church of Greenwich in Kent, which was an elaborate event.[3] The youngest daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.[2][4] She was named after her paternal grandmother Elizabeth of York.[5][6] Elizabeth’s childhood was marred with uncertainty. When Elizabeth’s mother failed to give King Henry a son, she was executed on charges of adultery. Elizabeth was only two years old at the time that she lost her mother. This would have a profound effect on her life and future decisions.[2] Viewed as an illegitimate child, Elizabeth’s succession seemed ill-fated. Behind her half-sister, Mary, and upon the birth of her half-brother, Edward, in 1537, Elizabeth stood third in line for the crown.[6]

Despite these tribulations, Elizabeth received an excellent education, becoming well versed in Latin, Greek, French, and Italian. Elizabeth's tutors along with her step-mother Katherine Parr made a lasting impression on Elizabeth. These favorable attributes would later serve Elizabeth well.[2] Sir William Cecil had appointed her a most influential tutor, the highly educated Roger Ascham. This would become a lifelong relationship of, friendship and respect. He continued throughout his lifetime to read Greek and play Chess with Elizabeth. Ascham once wrote:[7][8]

Yea, I believe, that beside her perfect readiness in Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish,
she readeth here now at Windsor more Greek every day than some prebendary
of this church doth read Latin in a whole week.

When he died Elizabeth exclaimed that she would rather have cast 10,000 into the sea than lose her Ascham.[7][9]

In 1554/5 during her sister Mary's reign, Elizabeth was accused of being involved in Wyatt's rebellion. It was an attempt to stop the marriage of Mary to the future King Philip of Spain. If the plan had been successful, Elizabeth would have replaced Mary as Queen. Mary ordered that Elizabeth be locked in the Tower, although there was no proof that she had been involved. Elizabeth wrote a letter begging for an audience with her sister so that she may plead her innocence.[10][11]

If any ever did try this olde sayinge that a kinges worde was more than a nother
mans othe [oath] I most humbly beseche your Majestie to verefie it in me and
to remember your last promis and my last demaunde that I be not condemned
without answer and due profe wiche it semes that now I am for that without
cause provid [proved] I am by your counsel from you
commanded to go unto the tower


Elizabeth finally ascended the throne in 1558.[12] She was just 25 and, England was a country in turmoil; torn apart by bitter religious conflict and mounting political tension. Gender aside, countrymen had little confidence that Elizabeth could provide the solid foundation and leadership that England so desperately needed.[13] However, there were many who rejoiced her ascension to the throne having experienced such brutality during her sister Mary I's reign.[14][15] Although she gave her first speech on 20 Nov 1558 and was actively reigning as Queen. It was not until 1 February 1559 that the Bill for the Recognition of the Queen's Highnesse's Title to the Imperial Crown of the Realm was read the first time. On the 10th of February, the first reading of the Bill against Slanderous and Seditious words was enacted. This stated that Elizabeth was made inheritable to the late Queen Ann her Majestie's Mother.[16][17]

She would quickly prove how capable she was. By gaining the support of her male constituents and leveraging the Tudor concept of firm rule, Elizabeth I was triumphant in preventing the outbreak of civil and religious war within the boundaries of England.[17] One of her first acts was to appoint Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England. [13][18] She appointed Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley, first as her principle secretary and later as Lord High Treasurer. He was an active member of her privy council throughout her reign.[1] She quickly surrounded herself with men of high standing. [19]

Elizabeth’s shrewd political tactics helped propel England into a prominent position of European power and greatly expanded the kingdom’s reach in the New World with the exploratory voyages of Sir Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh.[16][20][21][22] The Elizabethan Age was also a peak in English Renaissance. Amid expressive art and poetry, literature blossomed with the fanciful works of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Edmund Spencer. Elizabeth inspired an exuberant national spirit.[23]


Not everyone favored Elizabeth's policy to restore the Protestant faith in England. Plots to depose her, and return the country to Catholicism cropped up time and again, but they ultimately failed. Elizabeth reintroduced a modified version of the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity. This ensured that the Church of England and Elizabeth were in control. It took back the power of Catholic Rome that her sister Mary I had brought back to England. The Act of Uniformity ensured that the Protestant religion would be tolerated. Protestant and Catholic beliefs were taken into consideration when drafting the Act, although it did lean more towards Protestant beliefs. Sir Anthony Cooke who had previously been exiled in France was asked to review the Act before its passing.[24][25][26]

Elizabeth's cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was a devout Catholic and likely successor. Elizabeth feared with Mary being a ruling Catholic Queen and an heir to the English throne, that she may become the preferred ruler of England. So, Elizabeth imprisoned her for 19 years without charging her with a crime. Though widely believed that the Queen later gave the order for Mary's execution, letters have been found that state otherwise. Elizabeth was very disturbed by the thought of putting to death another sovereign. Letters that were written by Elizabeth reprimanding the execution and ordering some participants locked in the Tower, appear to show that she was unsure of taking such a drastic step[27][28]

In 1587, Mary Stuart was executed with an ax. But the execution of a Catholic Queen by a Protestant Queen enraged many of the "Pope's faithful", including Mary I's widower, Philip II of Spain.[27][28] Relations between England and Spain were already strained. Yet, Elizabeth's covert privateers raided rich Spanish vessels and ports, while her soldiers supported Protestant Dutchmen rebelling against Catholic Spanish rule. [29]

Encouraged by the Pope, Philip II in 1588 sent his Spanish Armada to raid England. It was during this famous segment of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604) that Elizabeth stirringly addressed her troops at Tilbury:[30][31][32]

"....I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman,
but I have the stomach of a King,
and a king of England, too! .......we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

It was a close battle, but Elizabeth won and England remained under Protestant rule.[33][34]


Although she received many proposals and had many potential suitors, Elizabeth chose to never marry or have children. She was often pressed throughout her reign to marry and produce heirs. Elizabeth stood firm in her convictions and refused to be told what to do.[35] She turned down many suitors including the King of Sweden, Eric XIV.[36] Elizabeth publicly announced that she was married to England and that the people of England were all her children. She wore a ring as a symbol of her union to the country.[37]

She avoided naming a successor. Although, pressure for her to do so was consistent throughout her reign. She often said that it was too great a matter to make such a decision lightly. She had excluded Mary Stuart even before Mary's execution. Mary was a hereditary heir to the English throne, her and Elizabeth's great-grandfather being King Henry Tudor VII.[38]


Elizabeth died on 24 March 1603, bringing an end to the remarkable Tudor dynasty. James I, the son of Mary Stuart, was Elizabeth's royal successor.[39]. Although her death would mark the passing of a glorious era, the legacy of Queen Elizabeth I would forever live on.


  • In 1752 the calendar in England changed from old style to new style. Previous to 1752 the new year began on March 25th in 1752 it was changed and began January 1st. Dates prior to 1752 occurring between January 1st and March 25th will be recorded as dual years to reflect the change.
  • Greenwich Castle was originally in Kent and later became a part of London. [40]
  • Elizabeth was called many names during her lifetime. Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, Her Majesty, The Good Queen Bess, Gloriana, The Virgin Queen, and the Faerie Queen. [37]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Maginn, Christopher. "'BEHIND EVERY GREAT WOMAN...': WILLIAM CECIL AND THE ELIZABETHAN CONQUEST OF IRELAND." History Ireland 20, no. 6 (2012): 14-17. Accessed November 21, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23290987.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Camden, William, 1551-1623. The History of the Most Renowned And Victorious Princess Elizabeth, Late Queen of England: Containing All the Most Important And Remarkable Passages of State, Both At Home And Abroad (so Far As They Are Linked With English Affairs) During Her Long And Prosperous Reign. The 3d ed., London: Printed by M. Flesher, for C. Harper [etc.], 1675. babel.hathitrust.org The History of the Most Renowned And Victorious Princess Elizabeth, Late Queen of England
  3. "Henry VIII: September 1533, 1-10," in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533, ed. James Gairdner (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1882), 449-466. British History Online, accessed December 7, 2020, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533.
  4. Edward Walford. "Greenwich," in Old and New London: Volume 6, (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 164-176. British History Online, accessed November 21, 2020, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol6/pp164-176.
  5. Patrick Collinson. 'Elizabeth I (1533–1603)'. oxforddnb.com, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/8636, Accessed 17 Nov 2020. (subscription required to view)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879. History of Elizabeth, Queen of England. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus company, 1900. babel.hathitrust.org Accessed 25 Nov 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wikisource contributors, "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ascham, Roger," Wikisource, https://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=Dictionary_of_National_Biography,_1885-1900/Ascham,_Roger&oldid=10512302 (accessed December 7, 2020).
  8. Robertson, Jean. The Review of English Studies 16, no. 61 (1965): 63-66. Accessed December 11, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/513552.
  9. "Ascham, Roger (ASCN533R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. Accessed 7 Dec 2020.
  10. Elizabeth Tudor, 1554. The ‘Tide Letter’, Noon, 17 March 1554 (SP 11/4/2 f.3- 3v). nationalarchives.gov.uk The Tide Letter (Image free to view)
  11. Ann Weikel. 'Mary I (1516–1558)'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, published, 2004. Accessed 13 Dec 2020. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/18245
  12. "House of Commons Journal Volume 1: 17 November 1558," in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1547-1629, (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1802), 52-53. British History Online, accessed November 21, 2020, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol1/pp52-53.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Simonds d'Ewes. "Journal of the House of Lords: January 1559," in The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, (Shannon, Ire: Irish University Press, 1682), 1-18. British History Online, accessed November 27, 2020, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/jrnl-parliament-eliz1/pp1-18.
  14. Ahnert, Ruth, and S. E. Ahnert. "A Community Under Attack: Protestant Letter Networks in the Reign of Mary I." Leonardo 47, no. 3 (2014): 275. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43834194.
  15. Oldenburg, Scott. "Toward a Multicultural Mid-Tudor England: The Queen's Royal Entry Circa 1553, "The Interlude of Wealth and Health", and the Question of Strangers in the Reign of Mary I." ELH 76, no. 1 (2009): 99-129. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27654654.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Elizabeth’s first speech, Hatfield, 20 November 1558 (SP12/1 f.12). Letters held by the National Archives Kew, nationalarchives.gov.uk. Accessed 3 Dec 2020.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Simonds d'Ewes. "Journal of the House of Lords: February 1559," in The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, (Shannon, Ire: Irish University Press, 1682), 18-21. British History Online, accessed November 27, 2020, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/jrnl-parliament-eliz1/pp18-21.
  18. "House of Commons Journal Volume 1: 23-30 January 1559," in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 1, 1547-1629, (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1802), 53. British History Online, accessed November 30, 2020, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol1/p53b.
  19. Simonds d'Ewes. "Speakers and clerks of the two Houses," in The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, (Shannon, Ire: Irish University Press, 1682), xiv. British History Online, accessed December 5, 2020, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/jrnl-parliament-eliz1/xiv.
  20. Quinn, David B. "Preparations for the 1585 Virginia Voyage." The William and Mary Quarterly 6, no. 2 (1949): 208-36. jstor.org, Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1919870. (subscription required to view)
  21. Sir Francis Drake: a Pictorial Biography, Hans P. Kraus, with An Historical by Lt. Commander David W. Waters & Richard Boulind. Published in Amsterdam by N. Israel, 1970. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-87886. loc.gov/rr/rarebook. Accessed 3 Dec 2020.
  22. Robjohns, Sydney. "Buckland Abbey and Sir Francis Drake." Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6 (1877): 267-97. jstor.org. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3677990. (subscription required to view)
  23. C S Lewis. 'English literature in the sixteenth century, excluding drama'. Oxford history of English literature, published by Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1954
  24. Patrick Collinson, 23 September 2004. Elizabeth I., (1533–1603)'. ODNB, oxforddnb.com; https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/8636. Accessed 29 Nov 2020.
  25. Neale, J. E. "The Elizabethan Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity." The English Historical Review 65, no. 256 (1950): 304-32. jstor.org, Accessed November 30, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/555498. (subscription required to view)
  26. Klein, Arthur Jay, 1884-. Intolerance In the Reign of Elizabeth, Queen of England. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin company, 1917. babel.hathitrust.org Accessed 7 Dec 2020.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Batho, G. R. "The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots." The Scottish Historical Review 39, no. 127 (1960): 35-42. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25526566. (subscription required to view)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Tenney, Horace Kent. "THE TRIAL OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS." American Bar Association Journal 17, no. 5 (1931): 285-91. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25708232. (subscription required to view)
  29. Brown, Meaghan J. ""The Hearts of All Sorts of People Were Enflamed": Manipulating Readers of Spanish Armada News." Book History 17 (2014): 94-116. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43956351. (subscription required to view)
  30. Green, Janet M. ""I My Self": Queen Elizabeth I's Oration at Tilbury Camp." The Sixteenth Century Journal 28, no. 2 (1997): 421-45. Accessed December 11, 2020. doi:10.2307/2543451.
  31. Digital Image of Speech at Tilbury Camp on 9 August 1588. bl.uk/learning Accessed 11 Dec 2020. Elizabeth I's Speech at Tilbury Camp Image
  32. Elizabeth, Tilbury Speech, 1588. British Library, British Learning UK. Transcription and digital images provided. bl.uk/learning/timeline accessed 12 Mar 2021.
  33. Hogg, O. F. G. "ENGLAND'S WAR EFFORT AGAINST THE SPANISH ARMADA." Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 44, no. 177 (1966): 25-43. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44229060.
  34. Mackie, J. D. "Scotland and the Spanish Armada." The Scottish Historical Review 12, no. 45 (1914): 1-23. Accessed December 7, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25518756.
  35. Elizabeth I’s speech to a joint delegation of Lords and Commons, 5 November 1566 (SP 12/41/5 f.8). Speech held by the National Archives Kew. nationalarchives.gov.uk. Accessed 4 Dec 2020.
  36. Elizabeth I to King Eric XIV of Sweden, 25 February 1560 (SP 70/11 f.74). The letter held by the National Archive Kew, nationalarchives.gov.uk. Accessed 4 Dec 2020.
  37. 37.0 37.1 King, John N. "Queen Elizabeth I: Representations of the Virgin Queen." Renaissance Quarterly 43, no. 1 (1990): 30-74. Accessed December 10, 2020. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2861792. (subscription required to view)
  38. Ridley, Jasper Godwin. 'Elizabeth I : the shrewdness of virtue', pgs131-132. New York : From International, 1989. archive.org accessed 9 Dec 2020. Elizabeth I : the shrewdness of virtue
  39. "James I: March 1603," in Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, 1603-1606 , ed. C W Russell and John P Prendergast (London: Longman and Co, 1872), 1-9. British History Online, accessed December 9, 2020
  40. Wikipedia contributors, "Greenwich," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Greenwich&oldid=987107532 (accessed November 21, 2020).

See Also

  • Royal Ancestry D. Richardson 2013 Vol. V pp. 215.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition (1911), Vol. 9, p. 282, Elizabeth.

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Comments: 13

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As far as I know she never actually said those words. It's a fictional quote from the movie. But it does capture the passion of what really happened. She would be a way distant cousin to me.
posted by Dennis Stewart
In the film "Elizabeth The Golden Age", Queen Elizabeth said to her council as the Spanish Armada approached, "...this Armada that sails against us carries in its bowels the Inquisition, God forbid it succeeds. For there will be no more liberty in England of conscience, or of thought, we cannot be defeated." I highly recommend this movie.
posted by Dennis Stewart
Thank you, Dennis, for your interest in Elizabeth's profile. I have been unable to locate a reliable source for the above quote. I have found several movies that have made that quote. Do you know of a reliable source that may be used to add that information? Your collaboration is appreciated.


England Project

posted by Laura DeSpain
I agree, Julie. Added ODNB as source.
posted by C. Mackinnon
Although I think there are many nice things about this profile, the Sources list gives the impression that there is only one source for Elizabeth's life and all the other sources relate to the slave trade, which seems rather disproportionate.
posted by Julie Kelts
BBC History Extra's 2018 article on Elizabeth I's appearance in 1593 covers that, yes, in the Oliver sketch and the Ditchley portrait, in contemporary descriptions, and in the context of managing her public image then, and its subjective Gothic interpretation much later.

But it also presents the events of 1593, her annus horribilis as 1992 was E II's, and her actions in response as queen and woman. Summoning Parliament to finance military campaigns. Pressure about her succession. Two plots on her life. Plague in a hot, dry summer. Raleigh's marriage. Henri IV's conversion to Catholicism.

And then there's what she did for fun, which may surprise you.


Links to 3 more articles.

posted by Deborah Shaw
James I was most certainly not a Catholic.
posted by C. Mackinnon