Queen Elizabeth I, also famously nicknamed as The Virgin Queen, is one of the most famous queens in all of history. But how much do you actually know about her?
- She wasn’t supposed to be queen
Elizabeth’s father was the infamous King Henry VIII. For those of us who don’t know, King Henry VIII had many wives and mistresses, which naturally led to a royal confusion on who should succeed his throne. When the King passed away, one of his wives had already borne a son – Edward, who became King at only 10 years old. Tragically, the young boy dies of a fever, starting a messy family feud between Henry’s first daughter Mary, and Henry’s cousin Jane Grey, on who should take the throne. Mary didn’t take this well obviously and deposed Lady Jane so she can rule instead. However, this didn’t work out for poor Mary as she died of influenza just 5 short years after becoming Queen. After a few more controversies, Elizabeth finally became ruler of England, Wales, and Ireland.
- She praised her mother in secret.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. But before Henry put a ring on it, Anne was his mistress, and this didn’t sit well with his subjects. The King was married to Katherine at the time before he exiled her off to a nunnery. The people named Anne the “Great Wh**re” because of her love affair with King Henry VIII. When Elizabeth became queen, many noted that she didn’t talk much about her mother who had been beheaded, and that she would only talk about and praise her father – leading them to believe that she was ashamed of her maternal parentage. But they miscalculated the queen. Elizabeth understood that the common people didn’t love her mother because of her illicit affair with her father, so she was wise not to openly praise her which would invite only more criticism. She praised her mother in subtle ways – like wearing the pendant that was worn famously by her mother for a portrait. When she became queen, she promoted some members of her mother’s family to various positions within the court.
- She had her faults.
Queen Elizabeth I was widely praised for being one of the best queens England, Wales, and Ireland have ever seen. She reigned for 44 years – meaning that in her long reign as queen, she wasn’t overthrown or deposed. She was extremely powerful and unlike her father and her half-siblings, she was considered a very just ruler throughout her life. But she wasn’t a perfect queen. She often made decisions at the very last minute which wasn’t great for planning and many considered it a sign of weakness. While she was quick to silence detractors or show up people who questioned her ability, she was a bit vain. She loved flattery to a fault, and when a portrait was made of her, she would examine it extremely closely to make sure it didn’t show anything “wrong” with her.
Curious for more facts about Queen Elizabeth I that you probably didn’t know? Head over to this video by Origins Explained and discover some more interesting things about one of the most iconic queens in all of world history.