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General information  

  • Date of birth : 07/09/1533
  • Date of death : 24/03/1603

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  • Elisabetta 01 d'Inghilterra
  • England of I Elizabeth
  • Gloriana
  • Good Queen Bess
  • The Virgin Queen

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Elizabeth I of England (1533)

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  Summary  

Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. The daughter of Henry VIII, she was born a princess, but her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed two and a half years after her birth, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, bequeathed the crown to Lady Jane Grey, cutting his half-sisters out of the succession. His will was set aside, Lady Jane Grey was executed, and in 1558 Elizabeth succeeded the Catholic Mary I, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

Elizabeth set out to rule by good counsel, and she depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers led by William Cecil, Baron Burghley. One of her first moves as queen was the establishing of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement later evolved into today's Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir so as to continue the Tudor line. She never did, however, despite numerous courtships. As she grew older, Elizabeth became famous for her virginity, and a cult grew up around her which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day.

In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been. One of her mottoes was "video et taceo" ("I see, and say nothing"). In religion she was relatively tolerant, avoiding systematic persecution. After 1570, when the pope declared her illegitimate and released her subjects from obedience to her, several conspiracies threatened her life. All plots were defeated, however, with the help of her ministers' secret service. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, moving between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France and Ireland. In the mid-1580s, war with Spain could no longer be avoided, and when Spain finally decided to invade and conquer England in 1588, the defeat of the Spanish Armada associated her with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history.

Elizabeth's reign is known as the Elizabethan era, famous above all for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Sir Francis Drake. Some historians are more reserved in their assessment. They depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor, in an age when government was ramshackle and limited and when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones. Such was the case with Elizabeth's rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, whom she imprisoned in 1568 and eventually had executed in 1587. After the short reigns of Elizabeth's brother and sister, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.

  Biography  

 early life
Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace and was named after both her grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard. She was the second child of Henry VIII of England born in wedlock to survive infancy. Her mother was Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn. At birth, Elizabeth was the heiress presumptive to the throne of England. Her older half-sister, Mary, had lost her position as a legitimate heir when Henry annulled his marriage to Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne and sire a male heir to ensure the Tudor succession. Elizabeth was baptised on 10 September; Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the Marquess of Exeter, the Duchess of Norfolk and the Dowager Marchioness of Dorset stood as her four godparents.

When Elizabeth was two years and eight months old her mother was executed on 19 May 1536. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and deprived of the title of Princess. Eleven days after Anne Boleyn's death, Henry married Jane Seymour, but she died shortly after the birth of their son, Prince Edward, in 1537. Edward now became the undisputed heir to the throne. Elizabeth was placed in Edward's household and carried the chrisom, or baptismal cloth, at his christening.

Elizabeth's first Lady Mistress, Margaret, Lady Bryant, wrote that she was “as toward a child and as gentle of conditions as ever I knew any in my life”. By the autumn of 1537, Elizabeth was in the care of Blanche Herbert, Lady Troy who remained her Lady Mistress until her retirement in late 1545 or early 1546. Catherine Champernowne, better known by her later, married name of Catherine “Kat” Ashley, was appointed as Elizabeth's governess in 1537, and she remained Elizabeth’s friend until her death in 1565, when Blanche Parry succeeded her as Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. She clearly made a good job of Elizabeth’s early education: by the time William Grindal became her tutor in 1544, Elizabeth could write English, Latin, and Italian. Under Grindal, a talented and skilful tutor, she also progressed in French and Greek. She is also reputed to have spoken Cornish. After Grindal died in 1548, Elizabeth received her education under Roger Ascham, a sympathetic teacher who believed that learning should be engaging. By the time her formal education ended in 1550, she was one of the best educated women of her generation.

 death
Elizabeth's senior advisor, Burghley, died on 4 August 1598. His political mantle passed to his son, Robert Cecil, who soon became the leader of the government. One task he addressed was to prepare the way for a smooth succession. Since Elizabeth would never name her successor, Cecil was obliged to proceed in secret. He therefore entered into a coded negotiation with James VI of Scotland, who had a strong but unrecognised claim. Cecil coached the impatient James to humour Elizabeth and "secure the heart of the highest, to whose sex and quality nothing is so improper as either needless expostulations or over much curiosity in her own actions". The advice worked. James's tone delighted Elizabeth, who responded: "So trust I that you will not doubt but that your last letters are so acceptably taken as my thanks cannot be lacking for the same, but yield them to you in grateful sort". In historian J. E. Neale's view, Elizabeth may not have declared her wishes openly to James, but she made them known with "unmistakable if veiled phrases".

The Queen's health remained fair until the autumn of 1602, when a series of deaths among her friends plunged her into a severe depression. In February 1603, the death of Catherine Howard, Countess of Nottingham, the niece of her cousin and close friend Catherine, Lady Knollys, came as a particular blow. In March, Elizabeth fell sick and remained in a "settled and unremovable melancholy". She died on 24 March 1603 at Richmond Palace, between two and three in the morning. A few hours later, Cecil and the council set their plans in motion and proclaimed James VI of Scotland as king of England.

Elizabeth's coffin was carried downriver at night to Whitehall, on a barge lit with torches. At her funeral on 28 April, the coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey on a hearse drawn by four horses hung with black velvet. In the words of the chronicler John Stow:
Westminster was surcharged with multitudes of all sorts of people in their streets, houses, windows, leads and gutters, that came out to see the obsequy, and when they beheld her statue lying upon the coffin, there was such a general sighing, groaning and weeping as the like hath not been seen or known in the memory of man.

Elizabeth was interred in Westminster Abbey in a tomb she shares with her half-sister, Mary. The Latin inscription on their tomb, "Regno consortes & urna, hic obdormimus Elizabetha et Maria sorores, in spe resurrectionis", translates to "Consorts in realm and tomb, here we sleep, Elizabeth and Mary, sisters, in hope of resurrection".

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Elizabeth I of England", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.