Woman: Queen Elizabeth I

Name: Elizabeth I (Elizabeth Tudor, Elizabeth Regina, Queen of England)

Dates: September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603

Place of Birth: Greenwich Palace, England

Why is she interesting?

Elizabeth was born the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her mother was beheaded for treason when she was just a small child. Elizabeth was brilliant, something women weren’t supposed to be in the 1500s. Because she was the daughter of Henry VIII and, ostensibly, in line for the throne she had excellent tutors and loved learning new things. She spoke a number of languages and is known to have written prayers and notes for herself in several different tongues.

Although no one really expected her to, Elizabeth did become the queen of England in 1558 after the death of her sister, Mary. From the outset, the expectation was that her reign would not be hers alone. As queen, it was understood that she should marry and provide royal heirs. As a woman, it was somewhat expected that she would defer to the wisdom of the men around her in important things. None of this happened.

Elizabeth entertained marriage proposals for the majority of her reign, using the possibility of marrying her as a tool for international diplomacy, but she never intended to accept any of them. She appointed brilliant advisers, not least among them Cecil who would be her right-hand man for nearly the whole of her life, but she always made up her own mind. She enjoyed playing at romance with courtiers, but none of them ever had the influence they might wish over her (and a few found that out the hard way). She always remained in control.

As a result of her incredible intelligence and devotion to her kingdom, Elizabeth’s reign was one of incredible peace and prosperity for England. The borders of the empire stretched as England became the prime power to be reckoned with at sea, and even the religious turmoil that had plagued the country largely came to an end. Despite threats from Mary of Scotland, Phillip and his Spanish Armada, and even the Irish rebels, England remained strong and independent. Elizabeth is widely considered to be one of the greatest rulers the world has ever known, and rightly so.

Why do I admire her?

I admire Queen Elizabeth because she was able to hold up to incredible pressures, probably not least of all from herself, and accomplish great things. She suffered from physical and psychological ailments all her life, periodically suffering from all sorts of things caused by stress and who knows what else. She suffered from chronic migraines in a time when they didn’t know how to deal with such a thing. But through it all, she managed to rule an empire.

I’m in awe that she was so able to maintain her power base, not least of all by keeping herself out of marriage. Her councilors all pushed so hard for her to get married, but she stuck to her guns and never did, knowing the mess it made of the royal line of succession that she didn’t have children. But what would marriage have meant for her? A loss of personal power, probably personal freedom, possibly having to just grin and bear it as she was abused either physically or otherwise, and all because she lived when she did. Marriage always represented a loss of power, from her point of view, so why should she, who had all the power in the world, submit to it?

Elizabeth was smart, very smart, and she not only knew it and nurtured her intellect, but she freely let the people around her see it. Women weren’t supposed to be smart (to some extent, they still aren’t), but she didn’t care. She spoke at length and with great intelligence to her court, her councilors and visiting foreign dignitaries. Clearly she wasn’t concerned about intimidating anyone (if they found her intimidating, presumably that was their problem). A prince was supposed to be intelligent in order to rule his land, so why should she not be? But she wasn’t just a bookworm – she danced and played instruments and did embroidery and rode horses like a master and had any number of other hobbies and accomplishments. She about as well-rounded as they come!

I don’t imagine that I will ever make the kind of difference in the world that Elizabeth did. It’s a one in a million person who can, but I do admire the woman and the ruler that she was and I would hope that women everywhere could hear about her and aspire to be as independent, strong and self-assured as she was.

8 Comments

  1. haya said,

    October 7, 2009 at 3:26 am

    hey thnx alot for the information

  2. Eliza L. said,

    November 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I like to study about queen Elizabeth! SHE ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Rozee said,

    February 23, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Was this like a report? Because it’s written in third person, did you turn this into a teacher? Or, did you do it for others sake? Its really good written. I have a question: Did she have any children? It said that she never married so who was her heir, or did she not have one?

  4. Rosepixie said,

    February 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    It’s not a report or anything, it was written for this blog. As to children – she was the Virgin Queen, so what do you think? And why does everyone want to know if the women I write about had children?

  5. kassie said,

    August 15, 2010 at 12:54 am

    I think rozee was just wanting to know who her heir was if she had no children.

  6. Rosepixie said,

    September 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Who Elizabeth’s heir would be was one of the biggest and most political questions of her reign. It never was solved to anyone’s satisfaction. She didn’t have one. The crown passed to James of Scotland – Mary, Queen of Scots’s son. It basically happened because Elizabeth refused to ever name an heir – she was basically afraid of being pushed out of the way as she got old as everyone tried to garner favor with whoever would be the next ruler – so she left the question open and let everyone figure it out after she died. I always read that as coming out of her fear, but also as a rather selfish thing to do, since it sort of left her country floundering after her death and allowed James, who did fine but was probably not the most politically sound choice, to step in.

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    April 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

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  8. jodie stones said,

    December 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    i think she was a strong queen

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