The life of Queen Elizabeth I can be summarized in one simple word: power. Through endless battles, both physical and otherwise, she ruled for an impressive forty-four years. She unified England when it was religiously divided by constant conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants. However, though her political achievements were plenty, this presentation will focus on the other side of her life: the controversy.
From her birth in 1533, Queen Elizabeth’s life was more like a soap opera than a fairy tale. More than anything, her father, King Henry VIII wanted a male heir to the throne. When his first wife, Katherine of Aragon gave birth to a girl, King Henry left her and married Anne Boleyn. He took a large risk by defying the Pope, who refused to acknowledge the new marriage as legitimate. However, King Henry was sure that his gamble would pay off when his son was born.
Unfortunately that was not the case. After numerous miscarriages, Anne Boleyn gave birth to Elizabeth I, yet another daughter. Quite frankly, King Henry was devastated. Elizabeth was deemed “a bastard” and her mother the “whore” was executed.
King Henry VIII went on to have a total of six wives. This meant that the young Queen Elizabeth grew up in a constant state of disarray, never knowing how long her current mother would be around for. One can only imagine the magnitude of the effect that this had on her views on marriage. For example, she and Katherine Howard, King Henry’s fifth wife, were very close. When Katherine was accused of adultery and later executed, Elizabeth I reportedly told a close family friend that she would never marry.
When King Henry VIII died in 1547, nine-year-old Edward VI became king, only to die himself six years later. Mary I took over but she too passed away after a five-year reign. After watching her brother and sister rule somewhat unsuccessfully, Elizabeth I took the throne on November 17th 1558.