Queen Elizabeth I was the last queen of the Tudor family to rule England. Queen Elizabeth was born in England in 1533. Her father and mother were King Henry VIII and Ana Boylen. Elizabeth’s family played an important part of England’s in the 1500’s. They changed the religion and made England a stronger country. Elizabeth was the greatest Queen ever to rule England.
Elizabeth I was born in Greenwich, England in 1533. She was born on September 7, between 3-4pm. All the nurses and her family thought she would be a boy. She turned out to be a girl and she was named Elizabeth after both of her grandmothers.
Elizabeth had a large family. She had a mother, a step-brother, and a step-sister. Her mother’s name was Ann Boylen. She was Elizabeth’s immediate mother, the one who gave birth to her. Elizabeth’s step-brother was Edward VI. He was the first out of the children to rule. In the Tudor times, boys ruled first. Even though he was the youngest, he still became king of England at the age of nine. Elizabeth’s sister was named Mary. After her brother died in 1547, when Elizabeth was 13, her sister Mary became the Queen of England. She died eleven years after becoming queen and then Elizabeth took over. Elizabeth never thought that she would become queen because her brother and sister would go before her. But Elizabeth did become the queen of England in 1559. Elizabeth was sad when her sister died because they would play games together. Elizabeth looked up to her and they were very close.
Elizabeth’s father King Henry VIII had six wives. His second wife Anne Boylen is the one who gave birth to Elizabeth. She was one of the most important of his wives. All six of his wives were Catherine of Avagon, Anne Boloyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Kathryn Howard, and Katherine Parr.
Elizabeth and King Henry VIII did not see each other much. Henry VII sent messengers to ask her questions about her health and her education.
Elizabeth’s cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, was one of the most fascinating Monarchs that ruled Europe in the sixteenth century. While Elizabeth was Queen of England, she made her country Protestant. Many English Catholics did not like this. They wanted Mary, Queen of Scots, to rule a Catholic country. She once was Queen of Scotland but the Scots turned against her because they did not trust the man she married. They made her son James the king and captured Mary. Mary escaped in 1568 and went to England. There she asked Elizabeth to protect her. Elizabeth soon saw herself in a bad position. Elizabeth didn’t know what to do because if Mary lived freely in England she should lead a Catholic rebellion and try to replace Elizabeth. Elizabeth then decided that it would be dangerous so she had Mary kept as a prisoner. Elizabeth was nice to Mary and still treated her nicely because she was her cousin. She made sure Mary lived in comfort and had servants take care of her. After Mary arrived, there were two attempts to make her queen. On the second plot Mary tried to plot against Elizabeth and take over. Soon, Elizabeth saw it was dangerous to keep Mary and in 1587 she had her put to death. In 1587 Mary was executed. Six months after Elizabeth had a grand funeral for her cousin. Elizabeth wanted and made sure to show proper respect Mary, her cousin and a queen.
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Elizabeth’s father, King Henry VIII made sure she had great education. Henry made sure Elizabeth was taught by tutors. These tutors taught her math, history, astronomy, geography, architecture, needlework, horseback riding, and dancing. Also, Elizabeth had to learn many different languages. She learned Latin as her second language. By the time she was ten, she was learning French, Italian and Greek.
While Elizabeth was young and her father was ruling, she lived in many royal houses. Elizabeth lived in four different houses growing up. She would move house to house every month. Elizabeth would only see her brother and sister a few times a month. During the winter, Elizabeth spent most of her time in the Whitehall Palace. During the summer, she would spend most of her time visiting her country homes. One of her favorite homes was the Hampton Court Palace because it was only about ten miles from the center of London. When she would go to the Hatfield House she was able to see her sister Mary. Mary was thirteen years older than Elizabeth. They were good friends and like to spend time together. Mary taught Elizabeth to play cards.
While Elizabeth was growing up, she was raised a Protestant along with her brother, Edward VI. Religion was very important to her. When she became queen she decided her country would become a Protestant country. This would cause many problems for her in the future. It caused wars, fights, and plots against her.
After Mary died in 1558, Elizabeth became Queen at the age of twenty-five. She realized she would become Queen when two men bowed down to her while she was reading the bible under an oak tree. She was crowned Queen on January 15, 1559 at the Westminster Abbey which was the traditional place to coronate a Queen. Her new name was Queen Elizabeth I. The day before her coronation, she was carried through the streets of London in a carriage. After she was crowned, a big feast was held in her honor. There were parades, banners, and big crowds. After the parade, she spoke to the crowd. At first, people were worried that a young girl at twenty-five could not rule England by herself. Later, she proved that she could. Elizabeth chose William Cecil as Chief Minister and a small council of Ministers to advise her. She left the Hatfield House and went to the Charter House in London. Soon she left that house and went to the Whitehall Palace which was the main royal palace in London. Soon Elizabeth would figure out what she would have to do to make England a strong and powerful country. Two years later Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed and Philip was shocked. He didn’t like that a Catholic Queen had died and decided it was time to invade England. In 1588 the Spanish set off about 130 ships from Spain. This massive fleet was known as the Armada, or The Spanish Upset. Meanwhile, in England, Elizabeth was preparing for war. She gathered an army and sent out about 150 ships. Then the English waited for Spain to arrive.
While Elizabeth I was Queen, she was not focused on conquering other countries. She was more focused on trade and exploring. Elizabeth recognized that trade was very important to her country. She encouraged merchants to find new land and markets for their goods. During her reign, English merchants began to trade in the Americas. English merchants also traveled to new areas of Africa & Asia. During her reign, England was also famous for its explorers. The Queen paid for many new voyages to find new land. Some explorers were Humphrey Gilbert, Martin Frobisher, Frances Drake, and Sir Walter Raleigh. Martin Frobisher reached Northern Canada. Humphrey Gilbert claimed new found land for his Queen and Sir Walter Raleigh made the first English voyage to Northern America. The most famous Elizabethan explorer was Frances Drake. He sailed all the way around the world in his ship. After he sailed back home to England, Elizabeth made him a Knight and gave him the name Sir Frances Drake.
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One of the biggest and well known battles during the Elizabethan time was the Armada. One of the reasons the fight started was because King Philip of Spain asked to marry Elizabeth. Elizabeth said no, because she was afraid he would take control. She was afraid that he would turn England into a Catholic country and hated that it was a Protestant country. She refused to marry him and they gradually became enemies. The actual fight started when Spain sent over ships filled with treasures like silver and gold. Elizabeth saw the chance to steal the treasures for England and cause a Spanish upset. Elizabeth sent over captains to go explore and trade but also to attack the Spanish. Elizabeth also used the sea as an advantage so her explorers wouldn’t have to travel on land. Elizabeth hated King Philip of Spain, and he hated her. King Philip of Spain protested the attacks but Elizabeth said there was nothing they could do to stop her. Philip became furious but Elizabeth didn’t care. In 1585 Elizabeth upset the Spanish again. She sent English troops to support the war against Spain. Two years later, on July 29, the Armada reached the French port of Calais. The Spanish rested there for a night before they crossed the English Channel to attack England. The English had another plan, a surprise attack. At midnight, Elizabeth sent out eight fire ships towards the Armada. These ships caused a lot of damage. Some Spanish ships shot up in flames. Later they both fought at sea. There was not clear winner until a big storm arrived. Heavy winds blew the Spanish ships out of the English Channel and England was now free of the Spanish. Because of the storm, Spain was forced to sail all the way around the British Isles. Many of the Spanish ships were wrecked and the remaining returned to Spain. Elizabeth had won the war against Spain.
During Elizabeth’s reign, there were many plots. Plots are secret plans against enemies. Elizabeth hired spies because she was worried about people plotting against her. She feared other countries would send people to murder her because she was Protestant. Mary, Elizabeth’s cousin, had planned a plot against her so she could become Queen of England and turn England into a Catholic country. In 1569, a Catholic nobleman in the North of England lead a rebellion against the true Queen of England, but the rebellion was soon defeated. Two years later, another Catholic nobleman tried to free Mary, Queen of Scots, from prison. He was captured and executed. She didn’t have proof that Mary knew about the plot. In 1586 Mary was caught plotting against Elizabeth. Again, an English nobleman organized a plot. The nobleman was Sir Anthony Babington and the plot also involved King Philip of Spain. This plot was called The Babington plot. After this plot, Elizabeth realized it was too dangerous to keep Mary around. Soon after this she gave orders to have her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, executed.
Elizabeth supported and cared about many things. One thing she cared about greatly was the poor. In Elizabeth’s time, there was not enough food to feed everyone in England. Some people starved to death. Elizabeth made the rich pay taxes. She used this money to help the poor and build work houses, or places for them to live.
Another thing Queen Elizabeth I supported was poetry, plays and music. She was very proud and impressed with the talents of her people. She encouraged many writers, musicians, and artists. Poets would come to her and read their work at her court. Playwrights would perform their plays in front of her. Elizabeth herself was also very musical. She sang, danced, and played the lute and the virginals. While she was Queen, composers would write their music for church services and would compose madrigals. She would encourage all of these things so people could show their talents.
Elizabeth’s favorite playwright of her time was William Shakespeare. He was in a traveling troop of actors. They visited Stratford in 1587. Most of his plays were performed at the Globe Theater in London, where he performed for the great Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare’s group was called the Queen’s Men because Elizabeth was their sponsor. It is thought to be known that Shakespeare once wrote a play just for Elizabeth and performed it for her at the Globe Theater.
Queen Elizabeth I cared also about her fashion and appearance too. She thought it was important and she stayed fit until her last years. Also, Queen Elizabeth I expected her court to dress well. She owned more than two hundred and fifty dresses. She wore lots of jewelry, even in her hair. When she got old, she covered her thinning hair with a bright red wig. Elizabeth I hated looking old and wore thick make-up to cover her age.
Queen Elizabeth’s last years were very hard for her. Most of her friends had died and she was lonely. She missed Robert Dudley, her closest friend. She always trusted his advice. He died during the time of The Armada when she was 55. She was known to keep a letter by her bed from him for the rest of her life. During her final years she suffered from toothaches often. She also started to go blind. She refused to have her teeth pulled out and her memory began to fail.
In February of 1603 Elizabeth caught a fever and a few weeks later she died. Queen Elizabeth I was given a great funeral at Westminster Abbey in London. This was the same place that her coronation took place. Her tomb was decorated cheerfully with gems and stones. Her tomb is at the Westminster Abbey and you can still visit it today. After her death, people named her time of reign “The Golden Age”. Her people remembered and recognized all of the things that this great Queen had done to make her country powerful and successful. Elizabeth I had proved to the people that a woman could be a strong and inspiring leader on her own. During her life she was eager to show them that a woman alone could be just as good as a man. During the Spanish Armada she told her army, “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” In the end, Queen Elizabeth I did prove that she, Elizabeth, at a young age could rule England alone. Queen Elizabeth I was the greatest queen ever to rule England.
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