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Elizabeth i

Elizabeth i

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Published by: api-3709901 on Oct 14, 2008
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ELIZABETH I, Queen of England and Ireland,born

on Sunday the 7th of September 1533, and, like all the
Tudors except Henry VII, at Greenwich Palace,
was the only surviving child of Henry VIII by his
second queen, Anne Boleyn. With such a mother and
withCranmer as her godfather she represented from her
birth the principle of revolt from Rome, but the opponents
of that movement attached little importance to her advent
into the world. Charles V's ambassador, Chapuys,
hardly deigned to mention the fact that the king'samie
had given birth to a daughter, and both her parents were
bitterly disappointed with her sex. She was, however,

given precedenceover Mary, her elder sister by

sixteen years, and Mary never forgave the infant's
offence. Even this dubious advantage only lasted three
years until Elizabeth's mother was beheaded.

Elizabeth thus lost all hereditary title to the throne, and her early years of childhood can hardly have been
happier than Mary's. Nor was her legitimacy ever legally established; but after Jane Seymour's death,
when Henry seemed likely to have no further issue, she was by act of parliament placed next in order of the
succession afterEdward and Mary and their issue; and this statutory arrangement was confirmed by the
will which Henry VIII was empowered by statute to make. Queen Catherine Parr introduced some
humanity into Henry's household, and Edward and Elizabeth were well and happily educated together,
principally at old Hatfield House.

They were there when Henry's death called Edward VI away to greater dignities, and Elizabeth was left
in the care of Catherine Parr, who married in indecent haste Thomas, Lord Seymour, brother of the
protector Somerset. This unprincipled adventurer, even before Catherine's death in September

1548, paid indelicate attentions to Elizabeth. Any attempt to marry her without the council's leave would have been treason on his part and would have deprived Elizabeth of her contingent right to the succession. Accordingly, when Seymour's other misbehaviour led to his arrest, his relations with Elizabeth were made the subject of a very trying investigation, which gave Elizabeth her first lessons in the arts of self-defence. She proved equal to the occasion, partly because she was in all probability innocent of anything worse than a qualified acquiescence in Seymour's improprieties and a girlish admiration for his handsome face. He or his tragic fate may have touched a deeper chord, but it was carefully concealed.

For the rest of Edward's reign Elizabeth's life was less tempestuous. She hardly rivalled Lady Jane
Grey as the ideal Puritan maiden, but she swam with the stream, and was regarded as a foil to her stubborn

Catholic sister. She thus avoided the enmity and the still more dangerous favour ofNorthumberland;
and some unknown history lies behind the duke's preference of the Lady Jane to Elizabeth as his son's wife
and his own puppet for the throne. She thus escaped shipwreck in his crazy vessel, and rode by Mary's side
in triumph into London on the failure of the plot. For a time she was safe enough; she would not renounce
her Protestantism until Catholicism had been made the law of the land, but she followedGardiner's
advice to her father when he said it was better that he should make the law his will than try to make his will

the law.
It was not so much Elizabeth's religion as her nearness to the throne and the circumstances of her birth that
endangered her life in Mary's reign. While Mary was popular Elizabeth was safe; but as soon as the
Spanish marriage project had turned away English hearts Elizabeth inevitably became the centre

of plots and the hope of the plotters. Had not Lady Jane still been alive to take off the edge of Mary's
indignation and suspicion Elizabeth might have paid forfeit for Wyat's rebellion with her life instead of
imprisonment. She may have had interviews with French agents who helped to foment the insurrection; but
she was strong and wary enough to avoid Henry II's toils; for even in case of success she would have been
the French king's puppet, placed on the throne, if at all, merely to keep it warm for Henry's prospective

daughter-in-law, Mary Stuart. This did not make Mary Tudor any more friendly, and the Spaniards
cried loud and long for Elizabeth's execution.

She was sent to the Tower in March 1554, but few Englishmen were fanatic enough to want a Tudor
beheaded. The great nobles, the Howards, and Gardiner would not hear of such a proposal; and all the
efforts of the court throughout Mary's reign failed to induce parliament to listen to the suggestion that
Elizabeth should be deprived of her legal right to the succession. After two months in the Tower she was
transferred to Sir Henry Bedingfield's charge atWoodstock, and at Christmas, when the realm had been
reconciled to Rome and Mary was expecting issue, Elizabeth was once more received at court. In the
autumn of 1555 she went down toHatfield, where she spent most of the rest of Mary's reign, enjoying
the lessons ofAscham, and planting trees which still survive.

She had only to bide her time while Mary made straight her successor's path by uprooting whatever
affection the English people had for the Catholic faith, Roman jurisdiction and Spanish control. The
Protestant martyrs and Calais between them removed all the alternatives to an insular national English
policy in church and in state; and no sovereign was better qualified to lead such a cause than the queen who
ascended the throne amid universal, and the Spaniards thought indecent, rejoicings at Mary's death on the
17th of November 1558. "Mere English" she boasted of being, and after Englishmen's recent experience
there was no surer title to popular favour. No sovereign since Harold had been so purely English in blood;
her nearest foreign ancestor was Catherine of France, the widow of Henry V, and no English
king or queen was more superbly insular in character or in policy.

She was the unmistakable child of the age so far as Englishmen shared in its characteristics, for with her English aims she combined some Italian methods and ideas. "An Englishman Italianate," ran the current jingle, "is a devil incarnate," and Elizabeth was well versed in Italian scholarship and statecraft. It is clear enough that, although, like her father, she was fond of ritual, she was absolutely devoid of the religious temperament, and that her ecclesiastical preferences were dictated by political considerations. She was sincere enough in her dislike of Roman jurisdiction and of Calvinism; a daughter of Anne Boleyn could have little affection for a system which made her a bastard, and all monarchs agreed at heart withJames

I's aphorism about "no bishop, no king." It was convenient, too, to profess Lutheran sympathies, for

Lutheranism was now an established, monarchical and comparatively respectable religion, very different
from the Calvinism against which monarchs directed the Counter-reformation from political motives.
Lutheran dogma, however, had few adherents in England, though its political theory coincided with that of
Anglicanism in the 16th century. The compromise that resulted from these conflicting forces suited
Elizabeth very well; she had little dislike of Catholics who repudiated the papacy, but she was forced to rely
mainly on Protestants, and had little respect for any form of ecclesiastical self-government. She valued
uniformity in religion, not as a safeguard against heresy, but as a guarantee of the unity of the state.

The outlines of her foreign policy are sketched elsewhere, and her courtships were diplomatic.
Contemporary gossip said that she was debarred from matrimony by a physical defect; and her cry when
she heard that Mary queen of Scots had given birth to a son is the most womanly thing recorded of
Elizabeth. Her features were as handsome as Mary's, but she had little fascination, and in spite of her many
suitors no man lost his head over Elizabeth as men did over Mary. She was far too 'masculine' in mind and
temperament, and her extravagant addiction to the outward trappings of femininity was probably due to the
absence or atrophy of deeper feminine instincts. In the same way the impossibility of marriage made her all
the freer with her flirtations, and she carried some of them to lengths that scandalized a public unconscious
of Elizabeth's security. She had every reason to keep them in the dark, and to convince other courts that she
could and would marry if the provocation were sufficient. She could not marry Philip II, but she held
out hopes to more than one of his Austrian cousins whenever France or Mary Stuart seemed to threaten;
and later she encouraged two French princes when Philip had lost patience with Elizabeth and made Mary
Stuart his protegee. Her other suitors were less important, exceptLeicester, who appealed to the least
intellectual side of Elizabeth and was always a cause of distraction in her policy and her ministers.

Elizabeth was terribly handicapped by having no heirs of her body and no obvious English successor. She
could not afford to recognize Mary's claim, for that would have been to alienate the Protestants, double the

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