Birth Of A Princess Elizabeth I Essay Example
Birth Of A Princess Elizabeth I Essay Example

Birth Of A Princess Elizabeth I Essay Example

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  • Pages: 16 (4206 words)
  • Published: December 17, 2018
  • Type: Autobiography
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Elizabeth I was the princess born to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

On Sunday, the seventh of September, 1533, the little Princess was born, bringing with her an unforeseen future. Her arrival brought disappointment to her father and turmoil for her mother and followers. For years, Henry's main goal had been to have a healthy son who could inherit the English throne. Despite being married to Catherine of Aragon from Spain for two decades and having multiple children, by 1533, Henry only had one surviving legitimate child – a daughter named Mary. While Tudor England didn't have a law preventing women from becoming rulers like France did, it was still considered unfavorable.

The challenges faced by women in ruling a kingdom were twofold: the belief in their incapability and the practical considerations surrounding female sovereignty, such as marria


ge, the role of their husbands, and the risks of childbirth. These obstacles made it difficult for a woman to hold sovereign power. In Henry's case, he encountered additional difficulties in having a son with his wife Catherine of Aragon due to her age and limited child-bearing years. This was troubling for him because he was deeply in love with Anne Boleyn and wished to marry her. However, obtaining an annulment from his marriage to Catherine became necessary for Henry to wed Anne, but this process proved intricate. Unfortunately, only the Pope had the authority to grant annulments, further complicated by Catherine's influential family connections.

The Pope's refusal to grant Henry an annulment was due to her familial connection as the aunt of Charles V, the esteemed Emperor. Over time, Henry came to understand that obtaining another marriage would require

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finding a means to secure an annulment independently from the Pope. By breaking away from the Catholic Church and establishing the Church of England, Henry and his advisors discovered a solution that granted him complete authority over ecclesiastical affairs. This momentous move became feasible thanks to the emergence of Protestantism throughout Europe during this era.

Despite their significant doctrinal differences, Henry's main goal was to eliminate the Pope's authority while keeping some Catholic practices in the newly formed English Church. However, the Reformation had a long-lasting and profound effect on England as it officially transformed the country's religious scene. The dissolution of the old Church resulted in an abrupt end to centuries-old traditions deeply rooted in English society, such as monks, nuns, and friars.

As a result of the closure of monasteries, monks, nuns, and friars were forced to move to cities. They received a pension for financial assistance, allowing some to seek other ways of making money. However, some of them ended up in poverty and had no choice but to beg. When Henry became the Supreme Head of the Church in England, he successfully got his marriage annulled. In January 1533, he married Anne Boleyn who was already expecting his child.

In July, Anne and Catherine of Aragon were crowned as England's Queen. Despite being heavily pregnant, Anne believed that their upcoming child would be a boy, relying on guidance from philosophers and astronomers. Regrettably, the newborn was a girl, greatly disappointing both Henry and Anne. This result caused immense sorrow to Henry.

He had gone to great lengths to wed Anne, defying the Pope and the Emperor, sacrificing friendships, forsaking his once cherished role as a

staunch defender of the Church, demolishing abbeys and monasteries, and executing individuals solely because of their religious beliefs; all for a daughter he already possessed. The profound sense of humiliation was overwhelming, reaffirming his belief that he was not divinely favored. The birth of baby Elizabeth elicited minimal jubilation. Although bonfires were set ablaze across the country, the enthusiasm was lacking. Anne Boleyn had become widely disliked.

Many people criticized her for the religious changes in the country and for the king's decision to abandon Catherine, whom they adored. Nonetheless, Elizabeth received a lavish Christening ceremony at Greenwich shortly after she was born. You can read a firsthand account of Elizabeth's christening here. As time went on after Elizabeth's birth, Henry started to lose his affection for the woman he had once deeply loved. He became enchanted by other attractive women who were in her presence and openly grew weary of Anne's companionship. However, while Anne was still reigning as Queen of England, Elizabeth's life remained comfortable.

At the Royal Palace of Hatfield, she had her own household and received proper care, thanks to her mother. Princess Mary, who was now known as Lady after her mother's marriage to the King was annulled, was also present in the gathering for the newly appointed Princess. However, Mary was no longer in line for the throne as only legitimate heirs could hold the titles of prince or princess in England. This unfortunate turn of events understandably led Mary to hold a grudge against serving the daughter of her mother's replacement.

Elizabeth's well-being was entrusted to her governess, Margaret, Lady Bryan, while Anne ensured she spent regular time with

Elizabeth, defying the usual practice of separating royal children from their parents. It is evident that had Elizabeth been a boy or if Anne had borne a son shortly after Elizabeth's birth, Anne's fate would have taken a different course.

Both Catherine and Anne failed in their respective arrangements. While Catherine failed to make the arrangement, Anne also faced failure. After giving birth to Elizabeth, Anne experienced a miscarriage and then prematurely delivered a stillborn son. The argument holds that she lost her own savior through the miscarriage. Henry had similar concerns about his marriage with Catherine, which now haunted him in his relationship with Anne. These doubts only grew stronger over time. With the passing of Catherine of Aragon, potentially due to cancer, Henry could easily get rid of Anne without facing demands for reconciliation with Catherine. Hence, it became evident that Anne's days were limited.

She was accused of witchcraft, adultery, and incest (possibly falsely) and arrested for trial at the Tower of London. She was convicted on all charges and sentenced to death. Instead of burning, Henry chose decapitation as the execution method. Although axe beheading was customary, she requested death by sword. Henry granted her wish and arranged for a skilled French swordsman to carry out the execution due to the lack of qualified executioners in England. On May 19, 1536, Anne's beheading took place at Tower Green.

Elizabeth, at the age of two and a half, encountered difficulties during her childhood due to her mother's shame and execution. Though she might not have comprehended the full extent of her mother's abrupt demise, major transformations unfolded in her life. Her parents' union dissolved, leading

to Elizabeth being branded as an illegitimate child of royalty. Moreover, similar to her sister before her, she forfeited her Princess status and assumed the title of Lady Elizabeth. Nonetheless, despite these disruptions, Elizabeth preserved her keen intellect and remained cognizant of the change in her name.

"How haps it governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, today but my Lady Elizabeth?" exclaimed Anne. Shortly after Anne's death, Henry remarried to Jane Seymour, a former maid of honour to Anne and Catherine. Despite still having her own household, Elizabeth's governess noticed that the young child was being neglected and felt compelled to write to the king requesting adequate clothing for Elizabeth as her current ones were too small. Tragically, Jane Seymour passed away shortly after giving birth to Henry's long-awaited son, Prince Edward. The King was devastated by her death and granted her a royal burial at the Chapel of St. George in Windsor Castle.

Elizabeth and Edward, who were both raised without a mother, developed a strong bond at an early stage. Although Elizabeth had an acceptable relationship with her half sister Mary, they were never particularly close due to differences in religion, age, family connections, and personalities. Conversely, Edward and Elizabeth had a closer age gap, shared the same religious beliefs, and had a shared enthusiasm for gaining knowledge. They both received excellent education.

They received a comprehensive education from an early age, studying various subjects including Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, history, philosophy, and mathematics that are typically part of a traditional humanist curriculum. When Elizabeth was four years old, her governess Lady Bryan was replaced by Katherine Champernowne who quickly formed a strong and affectionate bond with

the princess. In fact, Katherine played a significant role in Elizabeth's life and was fondly referred to as "Kat" by her. Eventually, Katherine married John Ashley; Elizabeth's cousin which further solidified their connection. Besides Kat Ashley, Elizabeth's immediate household also consisted of Blanche Parry and Thomas Parry (possibly Blanche's brother), both Welsh individuals.

Blanche was a dear friend and trusted advisor to Queen Elizabeth for many years. When Blanche passed away in the late 1580s, Elizabeth honored her memory with an extravagant tomb. Blanche also took the time to teach Elizabeth some of the Welsh language, which the Queen thoroughly enjoyed learning. Elizabeth had a natural talent for learning and those who had the privilege of teaching her recognized her exceptional abilities. Roger Asham, a renowned scholar of the time who mentored numerous gifted students, considered Elizabeth to be his most exceptional pupil.

Elizabeth not only focused on reading and writing, but also dedicated time to learning musical instruments, achieving a commendable level of proficiency. Additionally, she acquired skills in needlework and art. Henry's marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, was swiftly annulled due to their mutual lack of compatibility. Although Anne remained in England as the King's "dear sister," her relationship with Elizabeth was likely minimal. However, Henry's fifth wife, Katherine Howard, left a lasting impact on Elizabeth. As cousins through their mothers, the young Queen took a keen interest in her new step-daughter, frequently spending time with her and engaging in playful activities together.

Elizabeth's initial experience of dining in public was significant for her, as she had previously been overlooked and unimportant at court. She was given the place of honor across from

Katherine, but this happy turn of events did not last long. It was discovered that Katherine had committed adultery, leading to her being taken to the Tower of London, sentenced to death, and executed on Tower Green. This mirrored what happened to Elizabeth's mother. This incident must have caused immense pain and confusion for eight-year-old Elizabeth. While we cannot fully understand its impact on her, it is worth noting that her childhood friend and confidant, Robert Dudley, recalled that she expressed her dislike for marriage when she was eight years old.

In a span of merely eight years, Elizabeth had to face the devastating loss of her mother and endure the passing of three stepmothers. These events, along with potentially hearing tales about what happened to Catherine of Aragon, her sister's mother, likely played a part in her reluctance towards marriage. Nevertheless, Elizabeth enjoyed a harmonious bond with Henry's sixth wife, Katherine Parr. Katherine actively assumed a nurturing role by actively establishing a familial atmosphere for the royal children. She took delight in their closeness and played an essential role in mending the strained relationships between Elizabeth and Mary with their father.

Despite not having an ideal life, Elizabeth managed to deeply offend her father and was subsequently sent away from the Palace while she was at the royal court. The specific offense remains unknown, but it could have been a comment or question about her mother or Katherine Howard, or perhaps something related to religion or Henry's other policies that a child would not understand as inappropriate. Despite Henry's concerning reaction, Katherine Parr intervened and ultimately resolved the situation, allowing Elizabeth to return to court. During

this time, Henry's health significantly declined as he suffered from a severe leg ulcer that caused him great distress due to his excessive weight which made movement challenging.

It was clear to those around him that his time was coming to an end. On 28 January 1547, he died. Elizabeth and her brother, Edward, were at the royal Palace of Enfield (London) when they received the news of their father's death. Holding each other closely, they cried and mourned. They knew that big changes awaited them and their tears could have been a mixture of worry for the future and sorrow over the loss of their powerful but sometimes controlling father.

Both Elizabeth and Edward were now orphans. Elizabeth was only thirteen years old, while Edward, at the age of nine, became the King of England. A portrait titled "The Troubled Teens" depicts Elizabeth during this time. Following the king's death, the Queen dowager hastily remarried her old flame, Thomas Seymour, who was the Lord Admiral and the brother of Edward Seymour, the King's Uncle and Lord Protector of England. Elizabeth, accompanied by her servants, moved in with the Queen and her new husband. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous period for Elizabeth. Although Thomas Seymour was a charming and charismatic man in his late thirties, his inappropriate fascination with his fourteen-year-old step-daughter stirred up trouble. It is possible that Elizabeth developed an adolescent infatuation with him.

Despite the uncertain nature of Elizabeth's feelings towards Seymour during her adolescence, he took advantage of her and started visiting her bedchamber early in the mornings to play in bed with her. The Queen sometimes joined him as they both

tickled her. On another occasion, they teased Elizabeth in the garden, with the Queen holding her while Seymour cut up her mourning gown that belonged to her father. The exact details of what transpired between Elizabeth and Seymour will forever remain a mystery since our knowledge of their time together, including their interactions with Katherine and the other royal children, comes from documents that were produced much later during an investigation into Seymour's relationships with them. It is clear, however, that matters went beyond appropriate boundaries, with Seymour displaying a blatantly sexual interest in Elizabeth. Neither Katherine, Kat Ashley, nor Elizabeth herself felt comfortable with his behavior. Allegedly, Elizabeth would wake up early so that she would already be dressed when he came to her bedchamber in the mornings.

The situation escalated when it was rumored that Elizabeth was found alone with the Admiral. Katherine, feeling concerned and perhaps slightly jealous of his attention towards the young girl, decided it would be best for Elizabeth to leave the household. Elizabeth complied and left, despite there being no hostility between the two women. Elizabeth maintained regular correspondence with the Queen, who was pregnant at the time. Soon after, the Queen gave birth to a daughter named Mary, but unfortunately, Katherine did not survive the childbirth. However, leaving the household did not resolve Elizabeth's troubles with the Admiral. Shortly after his wife's passing, Seymour began to pursue Elizabeth with marriage intentions.

Elizabeth rejected him, causing Seymour to feel intense envy towards his brother's influence on the country and the young king. As a result, he devised a scheme to seize power by abducting the king, arranging a marriage between

him and Lady Jane Grey, and marrying Elizabeth himself. However, his plot was unsuccessful and he was apprehended and charged with treason. By planning to wed Elizabeth, he also implicated her in the conspiracy.

Elizabeth was at risk of being accused of treason for marrying without the proper consent. Her servants were arrested and she herself was closely monitored. Sir Robert Tyrwhit questioned her about her relationship with the Admiral. Despite being only fifteen years old, Elizabeth had to be extremely cautious with her words to protect herself and those close to her. It is unlikely that the government intended for Elizabeth to die, but they were focused on condemning the Admiral. Despite the difficult circumstances and lack of support, Elizabeth maintained her innocence. The Admiral, however, was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.

The impact on Elizabeth would have been enormous, undoubtedly affecting her both emotionally and physically. Consequently, she suffered from illness for several months. Additionally, this incident had repercussions on her reputation, which greatly troubled her. Elizabeth was always acutely aware of others' opinions of her and was determined to quash the rumor that she was pregnant by the Admiral. To address this, she corresponded with the Protector, requesting a proclamation to refute these false claims. Nonetheless, despite careful consideration, this course of action was not carried out.

Elizabeth was separated from her governess during the investigation and it took some time for them to be reunited. During this period, her relationship with her brother became strained and they grew apart. Elizabeth was restricted from attending court during and after the Seymour scandal, but was later permitted to return. In an attempt to

regain her innocent image, she dressed in simple black and white gowns, refrained from wearing jewelry and other ornate accessories, and avoided using cosmetics.

The topic of her sobriety garnered much attention, even her brother referred to her as "sweet sister temperance". After the disgrace and death of his brother Thomas, Edward Seymour was replaced as Protector by John Dudley, who would soon become the Duke of Northumberland. This Duke was the father of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's friend from childhood, and it is possible that they met numerous times during the Duke's time in power. While Edward had a relatively healthy childhood, his health began to decline from 1553 onwards, possibly due to tuberculosis (TB). It became apparent to Northumberland that the young boy was unlikely to survive into adulthood, necessitating preparations for the succession.

Edward's sister, Mary, was next in line to inherit the throne in English law. However, her strong Catholic beliefs threatened Northumberland's reforms and his own power. To prevent a Catholic succession, Northumberland came up with a plan to preserve Protestantism and his influence. By excluding both Mary and Elizabeth from the line of succession, the crown would then pass to either the Stuart line through Henry's sister Margaret or the Suffolk/Grey line through his younger sister, Mary. Henry VIII had already excluded the Stuart line from his will, so the crown would go directly to Frances, Duchess of Suffolk.

Both Mary and Elizabeth were once again illegitimized and removed from the line of succession. Frances was also disregarded in favor of her daughter, Lady Jane Grey. Furthermore, Northumberland arranged for his youngest son, Guildford Dudley, to marry Jane, thereby securing the Dudleys' influence.

Just three days after Edward's death on 6 July 1553, Lady Jane Grey was declared Queen. However, the coup ultimately failed as Mary fiercely fought for her throne and garnered widespread support from the English people.

On the 19th of July, she became Queen in the capital, and five days later, Northumberland was arrested and executed. Mary triumphantly arrived in London with cheers from the people, and Elizabeth had the privilege of riding with her. Elizabeth's accession to the throne started positively due to Mary being the second person, but their divergent beliefs, especially in faith, soon created issues. Mary was wary of her sister and resistant to recognizing her as the next in line for the throne. It was only during her last illness that she finally accepted Elizabeth as the heir.

As Queen, Mary began the task of rebuilding the Catholic faith in England. Additionally, she entered into negotiations to wed Prince Philip, Emperor Charles' son. Eventually, Mary married Philip in Winchester in 1554. However, the union was met with great disfavor in England due to Spain's influential strength in Europe and the apprehension that England would also come under its control.

Thomas Wyatt, a gentleman from Kent, raised a rebellion against the planned marriage in opposition to it. The conspirators had vague plans beyond trying to make the Queen abandon the marriage. When they were captured for questioning, it was revealed that one of their plans was for Elizabeth to marry Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, in order to ensure a succession to the throne from a native-born heir. Therefore, Elizabeth once again found herself involved in a perilous political plot that some believed had

a more sinister motive of placing her on the throne instead of just securing her marriage.

Elizabeth's aversion to marriage and rebellion makes it highly unlikely that she was involved in the conspirators' plans. However, the mere mention of her name by the conspirators and the presence of circumstantial evidence hinting at her knowledge of the uprising raised suspicions against her. Despite denying any knowledge of Wyatt's plans, Elizabeth faced hostility from Simon Renard, an influential advisor to the Queen, who urged Mary and her Council to bring her to trial. Although Elizabeth was not subjected to a trial, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The prospect of entering a place notorious for being the last destination for many, including her own mother, filled her with terror. In a desperate bid to avoid entry, she vehemently proclaimed her innocence. Regrettably, her pleas were in vain. On Sunday, March 18, 1554, she was transported by boat to the Royal Fortress. Initially resistant, Elizabeth eventually relented and entered.

She was imprisoned in the Bell Tower along with some of her familiar servants, including Kat Ashley. Elizabeth stood in great danger as her very existence posed a threat to the Queen and the Spanish marriage. The Queen's advisors pushed for her execution, although Mary was hesitant to shed blood. However, she had previously been compelled to execute Lady Jane Grey against her will, so powerful persuasion could have eventually led her to sign her sister's death warrant.

However, the lack of evidence against Elizabeth, along with Wyatt's declaration of her innocence as he faced execution, and her increasing popularity among the people, worked in her favor. Consequently, Elizabeth was

released from the Tower of London. Yet, she was not granted complete freedom and was instead taken as a prisoner to Woodstock Manor near Oxfordshire. Throughout her journey to Woodstock, the crowds greeted her warmly with cheers and gifts, demonstrating their support during this difficult time. Elizabeth remained effectively imprisoned at Woodstock for a year, forced to reside in the dilapidated Gatehouse since the manor itself was unfit for habitation.

Despite the lack of space for her servants, Thomas Parry had to find lodging in the nearby town as he was in charge of Elizabeth's finances. Sir Henry Bedingfield's hundred men provided protection for Elizabeth and closely monitored her every move. She was not allowed to see Kat Ashley and every visitor had to be accounted for. Elizabeth was also forbidden from communicating with anyone without supervision. Although Bedingfield's strictness may have been excessive, it was ultimately for the safety and well-being of both Elizabeth and the Queen. Had she not been hidden away and protected, Elizabeth may have fallen victim to an assassin. Despite the restrictions, Elizabeth affectionately referred to Bedingfield as her "gaoler" and held no grudges against him when she became Queen. In fact, she playfully teased him that if she ever needed someone to be confined closely, she would call upon him.

After marrying Philip, Mary quickly believed she was pregnant. This pleased her followers, but worried Protestants. If Mary had a healthy child, it seemed unlikely that the Protestant faith would be restored in England. Elizabeth was also troubled by the news of Mary's pregnancy. She realized that her opportunity to become Queen was now even more distant, and there were rumors

that she contemplated fleeing to France to avoid being imprisoned. However, as time went on, it became evident that Mary was not actually pregnant.

Mary's unhappiness and unpopularity grew as a result of her decision to burn Protestants and involve England in a war with France. This war led to the loss of Calais, England's last remaining foothold in France. Reluctantly, Mary accepted Elizabeth as her heir at the request of her husband. Following Elizabeth and bypassing the Suffolk line, the strongest contender for the throne was Mary, Queen of Scots. She was the granddaughter of Margaret, Henry VIII's eldest sister.

Mary had recently married Francois, the heir to the French throne, and there was animosity between the French and Spanish. Therefore, even though Elizabeth was a Protestant, it was important for Philip to ensure her ascension to the throne in order to prevent the French from seizing it. Elizabeth was residing at her childhood residence, Hatfield, when Mary passed away on November 17, 1558. According to reports, she was eating an apple beneath a majestic Oak tree in the grand park when she received news of her own coronation. At the age of twenty-five, Elizabeth became the Queen of England.

For the first time in her life, Elizabeth felt that her destiny was now within her control. She knelt down and quietly expressed her true feelings in Latin, saying, "This is the work of the Lord, and it is truly amazing to us". Further Reading: Alison Plowden, The Young Elizabeth David Starkey, Elizabeth Alison Weir, Children of England Anne Somerset, Elizabeth I Words / Pages : 4,720 / 24

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