I have desired to have the obedience of my subjects by love and not by compulsion.
These are powerful words from one of the world's most powerful women. Elizabeth the First is remembered as one of England's greatest monarchs. She is also one of the most admired rulers of all time. She is famous for her unique abilities and great achievements. But most people know very little about Elizabeth as a person and some of the things she went through. I am going to share with you a few things about her life that most people don't know.
Elizabeth was born in 1533 to Henry 8th and Anne Boleyn. According to a website about Elizabeth, her birth was probably the most disappointing thing of her father's life. He wanted a son to succeed him and he had already divorced his first wife because she only gave him a daughter, Mary.
Elizabeth's mother failed to give Henry a son so he had her beheaded on false charges when Elizabeth was 3 years old. Henry actually went on to have 4 more wives after that. Only one, Jane Seymour, gave him a son, Edward. But as a child Elizabeth received a great education. She could speak 6 different languages by the time she was a teenager. This helped her out a lot later in life with foreign affairs.
According to the book "Women Who Ruled", Edward died at a very young age. And Elizabeth's half sister Mary succeeded to the throne. She was not very popular with the people. She was always very suspicious of Elizabeth. She accused her of conspiring with Thomas Wyatt to seize the throne from her. Elizabeth pleaded innocent but Mary had her imprisoned in the Tower of London for two months.
Mary died without having children and Elizabeth succeeded to the throne when she was 25 years old. An article in the encyclopedia gives a good overview of her reign. She was loved by the people and they were fascinated by the kind of person she was. She used to curse at the Bishops, throw her shoes at the head of diplomats, she boxed the ears of the Earl of Essex, and she once danced all night just to avoid an interview with the Spanish Ambassador. She had over 3,000 dresses and received proposals from over half of the monarchs of Europe. She kept her plans to herself never accepting nor rejecting them.
In this book called Women Who Ruled, it states that the only person to pose a threat to her throne was her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. Plots were made to make Mary queen and Elizabeth ended up having her imprisoned for 20 years. She refused to execute her but after she was involved in an assassination plot against Elizabeth, she had her beheaded.
Philip of Spain had also planned to take the throne from her. In the summer of 1588, he sent his Spanish Armada against England. But Elizabeth did her best to inspire her dreadfully small English fleet and they ended up defeating the Spanish. To this day people are still amazed that they were able to beat them. This was also a personal triumph for Elizabeth because she able to prove that she could lead in a war as well as any other man.
She kept the world guessing about who her successor would be, until she lay on her death bed at age 70. She finally announced that James the 6th of Scotland, later renamed James the 1st of England, would be her successor.
Elizabeth was a smart and powerful woman who made it happen in the politics of a man's world.
She ruled for 45 years. When she ascended the throne, England was torn apart by religious and political problems. At the end of her reign, England was one of the most powerful countries in the world.