Elizabeth I.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elisabeth I (coronation portrait and signature)Autograph of Elizabeth I of England.svg

Elizabeth I , English Elizabeth I , actually Elizabeth Tudor , also known under the names The Virgin Queen , The Maiden Queen ("The Virgin Queen"), Gloriana or Good Queen Bess (born September 7, 1533 in Greenwich ; †  March 24 1603 in Richmond ), was Queen of England from November 17, 1558 until the end of her life .

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and the fifth and last member of the Tudor dynasty on the English throne. Her mother was Anne Boleyn . Her reign as Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603 is known as the Elizabethan Age . At that time the Anglican Church received its final form, numerous artistic works by dramatists such as William Shakespeare , Christopher Marlowe or Ben Jonson , poetry with sonnets and song poems, modern science was founded with Francis Bacon and the world was sailed around by Francis Drake . The first English colony in America was founded during this time and named Virginia in her honor .


Youth and the question of succession

Elisabeth at the age of 13
A handwritten letter from Elisabeth dated September 20, 1552 to her brother, King Edward VI. London, British Library , Harley 6986, fol. 23r

Elisabeth Tudor was born in Greenwich Palace on the Thames in the Chamber of Virgins on September 7, 1533 between 3 and 4 pm as the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn , and after her paternal and maternal grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard , named. After her mother's execution, Elisabeth was declared illegitimate and, together with her older half-sister Maria, was excluded from the line of succession because Heinrich wanted a son to succeed him. It was only under the influence of Heinrich's sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr , that she was returned to the line of succession in 1544 by a parliamentary resolution. Her tutors Richard Cox, John Cheke , William Grindal and Roger Ascham gave her a strict and comprehensive upbringing. From a young age she had a perfect command of Italian and French and she was also able to communicate very well in Spanish.

Her contemporaries described Elisabeth as a lively princess, with red-blonde hair, brown eyes and pale skin. She learned to play the clavecin and was a master of rhetoric. Roger Ascham , who taught her for many years, wrote proudly about his pupil to his good friend Sturm in 1550: “Your intellect has no feminine weakness; her perseverance equals that of a man; her memory permanently retains what it quickly grasps. She speaks French and Italian as well as English; she has often spoken to me in fluent and correct Latin and in satisfactory Greek. When she writes Greek and Latin there is nothing more beautiful than her handwriting ... I am not adding anything, my dear Sturm; it is not necessary."

Elisabeth was two years and eight months old when her mother was executed and was living in her own household. Her childhood governess was Katherine Champernowne . Elisabeth saw Kat as her surrogate mother and close friend all her life. Elisabeth died in 1565.

In public, Queen Elisabeth always identified with her father Heinrich, but there is much to suggest that she also fostered the memory of her mother in private. So she took for example the arms of her mother as her own and made Anne Boleyn chaplain Matthew Parker to Archbishop of Canterbury . She protected her maternal relatives - one of her closest friends was her cousin Catherine Carey , the daughter of Anne Boleyn's sister Mary , who was a ten-year-old eyewitness to Anne Boleyn's execution - and wore a ring with a capsule that contained a double portrait of her and her mother found.

After Heinrich's death in 1547, she lived at the court of Catherine Parr . When she caught her husband Thomas Seymour , who was chasing Elisabeth, in an unequivocal situation with Elisabeth, she felt compelled to send Elisabeth away. After Catherine's death in September 1548, the ambitious Thomas Seymour officially campaigned for the hand of the princess, but the Council of State forbade marriage. It can be assumed that Seymour intended to improve his position by marrying the second in line to the throne. Because of his conspiratorial machinations against his brother, Lord Protector Edward Seymour , the guardian of the young Edward VI. (1537–1553), Thomas Seymour was arrested in January 1549 and imprisoned in the Tower of London . He was found guilty of treason and executed on March 20, 1549.

After the early death of Heinrich's son and heir to the throne Eduard VI. at the age of 15, Jane Gray succeeded him to the throne. On her deathbed Eduard had chosen her as his successor and excluded his Catholic half-sister Maria and Elisabeth from the line of succession in his will. He wanted to secure the Protestant succession to the throne. Within nine days, Mary was able to assert her rightful claim to the English throne. On August 3, 1553 she moved into London with Elisabeth . Soon there was a falling out between the sisters. Maria was a convinced Catholic and wanted to convert the Protestant Elisabeth to her faith. Although Elisabeth then pretended to be a Catholic, she signaled to the Protestants that she was still secretly a Protestant.

When the Queen's plans to marry the Spanish heir to the throne Philip II of Spain became known a short time later, the Wyatt conspiracy broke out . Philip met with great rejection from the English, who feared too strong a Spanish influence. Thomas Wyatt wanted to marry Elizabeth to her cousin Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon , in order to elevate him to the throne in place of Mary. Under torture they brought Thomas Wyatt to testify against them. Elizabeth was suspected of having had contact with the traitors, and the Queen decided, at the urging of Emperor Charles V's envoy , Simón Renard , and Lord Chancellor Stephen Gardiner , to lock Elizabeth in the Tower. There she was housed in the Bell Tower. The walk from there to Beauchamp Tower, in which she was allowed to walk, is still called Elizabeth's Walk . Legend has it that she met Robert Dudley , son of the executed John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland , who she had known since childhood, who was imprisoned in Beauchamp Tower .

In view of the death sentence, Thomas Wyatt on the scaffold revoked Elisabeth's involvement in the plot. However, she remained in custody. The further investigations brought no results. She was released from the Tower and taken to Woodstock , Oxfordshire , where she was placed under house arrest.

A little later, Maria married the Spanish Crown Prince Philip. A child of the two would have secured the Catholic succession to the throne in England. Maria had some bogus pregnancies which weakened her health. In 1558 she died childless, presumably of abdominal cancer .

On November 17, 1558, Elisabeth was brought the news of the death of her half-sister. Philip, now King of Spain after the abdication of his father Charles V, made several marriage proposals to Elisabeth, which she rejected as "improper". On January 15, 1559, at the age of twenty-five, she was crowned Queen of England and Ireland in Westminster Abbey .

The early years of government

At the time of Elizabeth's accession to the throne, the situation in England was very tense. The economy was shattered , the country was at war with France and was also torn apart by religious issues. Elisabeth first set about pushing back the Catholicism that her sister had reintroduced. In 1559 she introduced the mandatory use of the Book of Common Prayer in church services by means of the Uniformity Act . In the same year the Queen renewed the Supreme Act of Henry VIII and again made the Church of England subject to the Crown; from then on was the British head of state "Supreme Governor of the Church of England" ( Supreme Governor of the Church of England ). In 1563 the 39 Anglican Articles were passed, which were formulated in a moderate Reformation. With this, Elisabeth finally separated from the Catholic Church . It should be noted, however, that she did not fall into the religious fanaticism often practiced in the age of religious wars.

The war with France was settled on April 3, 1559 in the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis . During the reign of Mary, Calais , England's last bastion on the mainland, fell to France in January 1558 . After the failure of the military efforts, Elisabeth decided not to support expensive wars and in 1564 gave up the English claims to Calais in exchange for financial compensation. With that England had finally given up the last positions on the mainland. The peace treaty with France finally allowed the English state to pay its debts. Now the prerequisites for a recovery of the battered English economy were created.

Elisabeth's grandfather Henry VII (ruling 1485–1509) founded the English merchant navy, her father Henry VIII founded the English navy by equipping the English ships with long-range cannons. Elizabeth's naval treasurer Sir John Hawkins (1532–1595) was able to strengthen the navy even further. The country was increasingly developing into a sea power. The first stock exchange was opened in London in 1566 and various economic laws were passed, whereupon prices stabilized. To boost trade, new laws were enacted. Englishmen were only allowed to wear English felt hats in order to eliminate French competition.

Lord Robert Dudley, ca.1559

Her childhood friend Robert Dudley played a huge role in the matter of marriage. Today it can no longer be clarified whether - as contemporaries suspected - Robert Dudley was actually the lover of the "virgin queen". What is certain, however, is that Elisabeth was in love with him and the two made the impression of lovers. Since Dudley's wife Amy Robsart was apparently ill, there was soon speculation about Elizabeth's possible marriage to Lord Robert . However, the Queen's advisers such as William Cecil, as well as some representatives of the high nobility, were firmly against such an association, fearing that Dudley's great influence would continue to increase. It was also perceived as an obstacle to Elizabeth's marriage to a foreign prince (such as Archduke Karl ).

In September 1560, Dudley's wife was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their home. Although the inquest found an accident, rumors circulated that Dudley had his wife murdered in order to marry the Queen. This scandal made marriage plans impossible at first. In fact, the possibility of suicide was not ruled out, as Amy Robsart knew of her husband's infidelity. She may also have had breast cancer.

In October 1562, Elisabeth fell ill with smallpox . There were fears for their lives, and a lively discussion broke out among politicians about possible successors. This revealed a dangerous situation: Elisabeth was the last living Tudor and was still unmarried and childless, so that the question of succession was completely open. When she briefly awoke from the coma, she named Robert Dudley as her successor. He was to rule England as Lord Protector . To general relief, Elisabeth recovered from the illness. The House of Lords and Commons submitted a petition asking her to get married at last. Elisabeth always answered evasively.

The friendship between Dudley and Elisabeth lasted until his death in September 1588 and was only temporarily tarnished by her anger over his marriage to her second cousin Lettice Knollys in 1579. Lettice was persecuted by Elisabeth with lifelong hatred.

In the spring of 1563, Elizabeth proposed Robert Dudley as husband for Mary Stuart , in order to bring a candidate favorable to England to the Scottish throne. Dudley was therefore raised to Earl of Leicester in 1564 . Maria Stuart initially showed little interest, but after Elizabeth promised her public assurance of the English succession to the throne, in the event and only in the event that she married Robert Dudley, she finally agreed to the offer in early 1565. Only Elisabeth herself again had doubts about deciding on the line of succession. When Mary's marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley , threatened, Elizabeth renewed her offer on the same terms. Robert Dudley himself refused from the outset and consistently a connection with Maria Stuart, so that the project failed.

The conflict with Maria Stuart

Mary Queen of Scots Queen of Scotland

As a result of a revolt by a large part of the Scottish lords , the Scottish Queen Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle in the summer of 1567 and forced to abdicate. On May 2nd, 1568, she managed to break out, but after the army of her loyal liegemen had been defeated on May 13th, she fled across the border to England and asked Elisabeth there for support against the rebellious Scottish nobles. This brought Elisabeth into extreme political distress. Since her father's marriage to Anne Boleyn had never been legitimized by the Pope, the Catholic Maria Stuart saw herself as the rightful Queen of England. She was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII and had not yet given up her claim to the English throne. Elisabeth had the former Queen of Scotland arrested on May 19, 1568. She justified the honorable imprisonment with the heavy suspicion of Mary's complicity in the murder of her husband, Lord Henry Darnley . Despite her imprisonment, she was allowed the luxury of court life with an entourage.

Elizabeth ordered an investigation to be carried out in York between October 1568 and January 1569 . The Scottish lords who appeared as prosecutors brought with them as evidence the cassette letters Maria had allegedly written before Lord Darnley's death and which were intended to prove her guilt. Maria declared the letters to be forgeries. The investigation recognized the letters as genuine, but Elisabeth did not want Mary to be convicted or acquitted, as this would have forced her to make clear political decisions. So there was no official result and Elisabeth kept Maria in custody.

On February 25, 1570 Elizabeth was excommunicated by Pope Pius V (1566–1572) with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis . In this bull Elizabeth was denied the right to the English throne and English Catholics were threatened with excommunication if they continued to obey Elizabeth. This led to the Ridolfi conspiracy : Elizabeth was to be murdered and replaced by Maria Stuart, all with the support of Spanish and French troops. Involved in the conspiracy was next to Maria Stuart Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk , who wanted to marry Maria. On September 7, 1571, the Duke of Norfolk, the only Duke of England, was arrested and, after Elizabeth's long hesitation, executed in June 1572. The English parliament demanded the execution of Mary, who was charged with participating in the conspiracy in October 1586 and sentenced to death on October 25th. Elisabeth signed the execution order on February 1, 1587. On February 8, Maria was executed. The English secret service agent Francis Walsingham was behind the investigation of the conspiracy and thus established his later position.

Rise to sea power

Elisabeth discussed all important questions with William Cecil . He was her advisor from early adolescence until his death in 1598. In 1571, Elizabeth gave him the title of Marquess of Exeter . In 1572 he was promoted to Lord High Treasurer ; Francis Walsingham was given his old post as chief secretary. Walsingham used his new position to further expand England's secret service . He is considered to be the inventor of modern espionage .

In the same year Elisabeth tried to secure England against an attack by Spain through an alliance with France . The alliance came about, but was heavily burdened by the events of St. Bartholomew's Night in 1572. That night between 3,000 and 10,000 Protestants were murdered in Paris. In order to improve relations with France again, in 1581 Elisabeth began marriage negotiations with François Hercule de Valois , Duke of Alençon, the younger brother of the King of France, Henry III. Both maintained a close relationship in which Elisabeth nicknamed him "my frog". However, François met with great rejection from the English. The duke died in 1584 - before a marriage could take place. It remains doubtful whether such a connection would ever have taken place, as this would have meant for Elizabeth to give up not only her own independence, but also England's independence. Throughout her life she saw the example of her sister, whose reputation in England had been badly damaged by the association with Spain.

Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh 1590

During these years, the country's wealth grew not only through trade but also through smuggling and raids such as that of the English captain Francis Drake . Drake became a folk hero when, from 1577 to 1580, he was second after Magellan to sail around the world . Drake was one of the main actors in the Elizabeth-supported naval war against Spain - which was never officially declared. He succeeded several times in bringing an immense amount of Spanish colonial wealth to England. A large part of the booty went to the English royal family and some nobles who participated in the ventures as lenders.

In 1580 Walter Raleigh came to the English court as an expert on Irish matters and won the favor of the Queen. In 1585 Raleigh organized an expedition to America . In the course of this, the first English colony in America was founded on Roanoke Island . The country named Raleigh Virginia in honor of the Queen . Because of the impending war against Spain, the colony had to be abandoned. Raleigh was knighted and thus one of the most influential personalities in England. Establishing a permanently settled colony was no longer successful during Elizabeth's reign. The English had to wait until the reign of James I (1566-1625) to end the war against Spain in 1604 by the Treaty of London and to found their first colony in 1607 at Jamestown . One anecdote about Raleigh says he was so devoted to the Queen that he put his cloak over a puddle for her to step over. Whether this is based on truth is disputed.

The end of Maria Stuart and the war against the Spanish Armada

The Armada portrait was
painted in 1588 in response to the victory over the Spanish Armada. The hand resting on the globe symbolizes Elisabeth's international power.

In 1586 Maria Stuart was charged with the " Babington Conspiracy ". Like the Ridolfi conspiracy in 1570, this one too had the goal of murdering Elizabeth and bringing Mary Stuart to the English throne. Maria's involvement could be conclusively proven by letters written by her. In October the Upper and Lower Houses jointly decided Maria's death sentence. Elisabeth asked parliament whether there was no other option than to kill Maria. Her discomfort before this last step and her years of hesitation are explained by her deep belief in the divine right of a monarch and, accordingly, by the view of regicide as a violation of divine order. However, Parliament convinced her that the only way to end the constant threat Mary Stuart posed as the figurehead of the Catholic opposition was her death, and the death sentence was officially pronounced in London. On February 8, 1587, Mary was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle .

The raids of the English privateers and the execution of Maria Stuart gave the Spanish King Philip II the occasion to intensify the war against England and to plan an invasion of England. But while Philip was equipping a large naval force, Francis Drake proposed to Elisabeth an undertaking that became known as the singeing of the King of Spain's beard . It consisted of Drake entering the home port of the Spanish ships with his fleet in order to destroy them there. On April 2, 1587, he set sail. The enterprise was a complete success, 20 to 30 ships were sunk or taken as a prize . Spain's war plans had to be postponed to rearm the damaged fleet. This gave England time to develop its own navy.

At the beginning of April 1588, Philip II sent the Spanish Armada (130 ships in all) to invade England. The Armada was to take a Spanish invading army under Alessandro Farnese , Duke of Parma and one of Philip's best generals, on board in the Netherlands and cross it to England. The plan was to first establish a base on the Isle of Wight . But on July 19, English scouts sighted the Armada off the coast of Plymouth , and the English fleet under Francis Drake and Sir Charles Howard , the Earl of Nottingham, was able to intercept the Spaniards in the English Channel. Since the plan to establish an advanced troop base had failed, the Spaniards moored their fleet near the French city of Calais. The commander in chief, the Duke of Medina Sidonia , was supposed to take the army of the Duke of Parma on board here. In England, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester , was appointed commander in chief of the land forces. He organized a land force along the Thames estuary to resist the invasion there. At his suggestion, Elizabeth arrived with her troops on August 8th and gave her famous Tilbury speech , which caused a tumultuous cheer from the soldiers.

I know that I have the body of a weak powerless woman,
but the heart and marrow of a king,
and a king of England at that.

The battle between the Spanish Armada and the English Fleet (English School painting, 16th century)

Although the Spanish troops were expected every hour, Elisabeth stayed in the troop camp. In Calais, Drake had a group of fire men sail in the direction of the Spaniards. The Spaniards had to lift their anchor to avoid the burning ships, so the English defenders could fight the Spaniards. Because the English had lighter and faster ships, they were able to do more damage to Spanish ships than the other way around. The naval battle of Gravelines ended largely in a draw. Since the Spaniards had weighed their anchor and therefore could not transport the troops of the Duke of Parma, the Duke of Medina Sidonia decided to sail around the coasts of Scotland and Ireland in order to come back to Spain and Portugal.

On the way there, however, the Spaniards got caught in a severe storm, as a result of which almost 60 of the 130 Spanish ships stranded and sank on the coast of Ireland. Hardly half of the Spanish ships and only a third of the crew made it home. Meanwhile, many soldiers among the English died mainly from diseases such as dysentery and typhus . When Elizabeth left the Tilbury camp, the Armada was defeated and the danger of an invasion had been averted. She returned to London in a triumphal procession. However, her old friend Robert Dudley died shortly after the events in Tilbury, which was a severe blow to her.

The late years of government

Queen Elizabeth of England around 1580

Although the Spanish had suffered a heavy loss with their armada, this battle was not yet decisive because the Spanish had saved their main Atlantic ships, which formed the basis of the Spanish American Empire. A large English invasion fleet therefore sailed to Spain and Portugal in 1589 to sink the remaining Spanish naval ships, to drive Philip out of Portugal and to intercept the Spanish silver fleet. This English fleet, led by Francis Drake and Sir John Norris , was unsuccessful and thousands of soldiers died of serious illnesses. Therefore the English invasion attempt was canceled and Philip rebuilt the Spanish navy. After that, the Spanish Navy was much stronger than it had been during the 1580s. The Spanish carried three times more silver and defeated the English on a few occasions. In 1595, a new raid in the Caribbean failed, on which Drake and Hawkins died. In the same year, Spanish troops under Don Carlos de Amésquita landed successfully at Penzance in south-west England, conquered some cities, set them on fire and withdrew again to sea. This proved that the Spaniards had not yet given up fighting England.

In 1593 Hugh O'Neill began a bloody battle against the English occupiers in Ireland . The war that broke out was extremely brutal, expensive and extremely costly for the English, which caused Elizabeth's reputation among the population to suffer. It was also the reason that the English state went into debt again, which is why Elisabeth had to sell a lot of crown property and many government offices. For the same reason it was necessary to convene the English Parliament more often. These changes strengthened the parliament and made sure that this institution could better challenge the English kings in the 17th century. So it came in the middle of the 17th century to the beheading of Charles I and a 17-year rule of Parliament under Oliver Cromwell .

The Essex Conspiracy

Handwritten letter from Elizabeth I to her future successor James I, 1593. Washington (DC), Follower Shakespeare Library, MS. X. d. 397, fol. 1v
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex , was the son of Lettice Knollys , later Robert Dudley's wife. From 1588 he held the office of head stable master, in the following year he was accepted as a knight in the Order of the Garter . Although he was considered a lover of the Queen, in early 1590 he married Frances Walsingham, Sir Francis Walsingham's daughter, without asking the Queen's permission. After several costly battles in Ireland and a detrimental armistice for England, he was recalled. He fell out of favor with the Queen and was placed under house arrest. There the popular Devereux prepared his coup d'état . On February 7, 1601, he was told that he would have to audition at court for the Privy Council . Devereux refused and gave the signal to revolt. On the morning of February 8, 1601, several hundred of his followers had gathered. His attempt to gain control of the city of London by means of a coup failed and his followers fled to their homes as the royal troops approached. Robert Devereux was arrested, sentenced to death for treason , and executed in the Tower on February 25, 1601 at the age of 35 .

Death, burial and succession

Elisabeth's funeral procession

The clashes in Ireland ended in 1603. The queen became seriously ill in February. She suffered from weakness and insomnia and died in Richmond on March 24, 1603, at the age of 69.

Tomb of Henry VII, where Elisabeth was originally buried.

On the same day, her body was transferred to the Palace of Whitehall and laid out there. Her funeral took place on April 28, 1603. A funeral procession accompanied the Queen's coffin to Westminster Abbey , where she was buried under the altar in the tomb of her grandfather Henry VII .

Elizabeth's successor was King James VI. of Scotland, the son of Mary Stuart and great-grandson of Henry VIII's sister, Margaret Tudor . He was proclaimed King of England just hours after Elizabeth's death after the question of succession to the throne had previously been disputed. From then on he called himself James I of England and Scotland and was the first English king to unite the two kingdoms of England and Scotland. He tried to legitimize his claim to the English throne by emphasizing his direct descent from Henry VII and portrayed Elisabeth as the last of an extinct family. He had the coffin of his mother Mary Queen of Scots transferred from Peterborough Cathedral to Westminster Abbey, where she was buried in a magnificent tomb in the right aisle.

Elisabeth I's tomb

In the course of this, he had a tomb for Elisabeth built in the left aisle of Westminster Abbey on the site of the previously unmarked grave of her half-sister Maria , where Elisabeth was buried a second time after the completion of the grave monument in 1606. On the grave monument itself, however, there is only one representation of Elisabeth, Maria is only mentioned in the grave inscription.

The Latin inscription on her grave monument reads:


"Partners both in the throne and in the grave, here we sisters, Elisabeth and Mary, rest in the hope of resurrection."

Inscription on the head side:

“An Eternal Memorial Unto Elizabeth Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Daughter of Henry the eighth, Grandchild to Henry the seventh, great Grandchild to Edward the fourth, the Mother of this her country, the Nurse of Religion and Learning; For a perfect skill in very many languages, for glorious endowments, as well of minde [sic!] As body, and for regal virtues beyond her sex. A Prince incomparable, James, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, heir of the virtues and the reign, piously erects this good monument. "

“An Eternal Monument to Elizabeth, Queen of England, France and Ireland. Daughter of Henry VIII, granddaughter of Henry VII, great-granddaughter of Edmund Tudor, mother of the country, nurse of religion and learning; for the perfect command of numerous languages, for great dispositions, both of body and mind, and for royal virtues that go beyond those of their gender. An incomparable prince, Jacob, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, heir to virtues and the throne, erects this good monument out of piety. "

Inscription on the bottom:

“Sacred unto Memory: Religion to its primitive sincerity restored, Peace thoroughly settled, Coine to the true value refined, Rebellion at home extinguished, France neare ruin by intestine mischiefes relieved, Netherland supported, Spain's Armada vanquished, Ireland with Spaniards expulsion, and Traitor's Correction quieted, both Universities' Revenues, by a Law of Provision, exceedingly augmented. Finally, all England enriched, and 45 years most prudently governed, Elizabeth, a Queen, a Conqueress, Triumpher, the most devoted to Piety, the most happy, after 70. years of her life, quietly by death departed. "

“Dedicated to memory: religion restored to its original sincerity, peace thoroughly consolidated, the coin refined in its true value, the rebellion at home extinguished, France, which was on the verge of ruin due to civil unrest, relieved, the Netherlands supported Spanish Armada defeated, Ireland pacified with the expulsion of the Spaniards and the correction of the traitor, the income of both universities greatly increased by a law of provision. Finally, all of England enriched and ruled the most wisely for 45 years, Elizabeth, a queen, a conqueror, a triumphant, the most devoted to piety, the happiest, after 70 years of her life, quietly divorced by death. "

coat of arms


Idealized portrait of Queen Elisabeth, ca.1600 by Isaac Oliver

Despite the costly wars against Spain and Ireland and England's economic problems in the last difficult years of her rule, England flourished in her 44-year reign. The Spanish Navy remained the strongest naval force until 1650, but the English Navy caught up with the circumnavigation of the Francis Drake and won the battle against the Spanish Armada .

The rising English bourgeoisie made its claims in politics and culture. Elisabeth managed to keep her own church detached from the influence of Rome and thus to end the religious turmoil in the country. However, it exacerbated the contradictions within the Protestant Church, as it acted with extreme severity against Puritan aspirations and thus increasingly pushed the Puritans underground.

Elisabeth promoted music, visual arts and literature. She spoke six languages ​​fluently, made music and translated ancient philosophers, such as Boethius ' Consolatio Philosophiae . It was the time of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan theater and Francis Bacon and John Dowland . The impoverished and religiously fragmented country became self-confident and strengthened economically, as the epoch is called " Elizabethan Age ".

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, along with Francis Walsingham , stood out as political advisers in later years ; for the last decade of Elizabeth's rivalry, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex , and Robert Cecil , son of William Cecil, rivaled for power. In her final years the younger Cecil ran the affairs of state.

Elisabeth is said to have been flirtatious and vanity, notorious for changing her mood in seconds and cursing violently. She often compared herself to her father Heinrich; She never spoke about her abandoned mother Anne Boleyn.

She usually punished secret marriages at her court with severity. She demanded of her maid of honor "to remain as virgin as possible". In addition to Leicester, the queen, who remained unmarried, was said to have a number of other lovers: François Hercule de Valois , with whom she had marriage negotiations around 1579; Robert Devereux; Christopher Hatton ; Thomas Heneage; Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford ; Walter Raleigh . At the beginning of her reign she said that she would be content to have lived a virgin and to be buried. Her last address, the Golden Speech , contributed to the legend of Elizabeth . From around 1578 she was stylized as a "Virgin Queen" for political reasons. As part of a Protestant world politics, a real cult around her figure arose, with tournaments, poetry, symbolic portraits. Other nicknames came up: Gloriana, Astraea , Cynthia , Belphoebe.

On the other hand, Elisabeth liked to give nicknames. She called her longtime friend Robert Dudley "her eyes". Her advisor William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , on the other hand, was "her spirit". William's son and successor, Robert Cecil , became an unflattering "pygmy". Sir Christopher Hatton was called "Mutton" by her. The head of the secret service, Francis Walsingham, was "their anchor and their moor". The navigator Sir Walter Raleigh became "their water" ( water ) and "their pug". The French candidate for marriage François Hercule de Valois was called "frog", his companion Jean de Simier was "the monkey" ( simian , 'ape-like').


Edmund Tudor
* around 1430; † November 1, 1456
⚭ 1455
Henry VII.
* January 28, 1457; † April 21, 1509
⚭ January 18, 1486
Margaret Beaufort
* May 31, 1443; † June 29, 1509
Henry VIII
* June 28, 1491; † January 28, 1547
⚭ January 25, 1533
Edward IV
* April 28, 1442; † April 9, 1483
⚭ May 1, 1464
Elizabeth of York
* February 11, 1466; † February 11, 1503
Elizabeth Woodville
* 1437; † June 8, 1492
Elisabeth I
* September 7, 1533; † March 24, 1603
William Boleyn
* 1451; † October 10, 1505
⚭ 1465
Thomas Boleyn
* 1477; † March 13, 1539
⚭ around 1500
Margaret Butler
* 1454; † 1539
Anne Boleyn
* 1501; † May 19, 1536
Thomas Howard
* 1443; † May 21, 1524
⚭ 1472
Elizabeth Howard
* 1480; † 1538
Elizabeth Tilney
* before 1447; † April 4, 1497

Elisabeth as a motif in literature, visual arts, opera and film


Elisabeth was immortalized above all as an opponent of Maria Stuart in literature. The best-known example is Friedrich Schiller's play Maria Stuart . Elisabeth is also the heroine of several historical novels, including by Susan Kay ( Legacy , German title Die Königin , 1985), Rosalind Miles ( Queen of England , 1998), Cornelia Wusowski ( Elisabeth I. The novel of her life , 2004) and Philippa Gregory ( The Queen's Fool , 2004, and The Virgin's Lover , 2005). In Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando , Elisabeth falls in love as an old woman with the young aristocrat Orlando. In the 1992 film adaptation , Quentin Crisp plays the role of Queen. Tanja Kinkel used the historical person constellation around Elisabeth, her sister Maria, the father Heinrich and the motive of the husband's murder as well as Philipp of Spain and Robert Dudley for a very similar constellation in her historical novel Im Schatten der Königin (2010).

Visual arts

Elisabeth found its way into the visual arts of the 20th century. The feminist artist Judy Chicago made her role in the history of women clear: In her work The Dinner Party , she dedicated one of the 39 place settings at the table to her.


On the opera stage, Elisabeth appears in Rossini's Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra and Donizetti's Maria Stuarda , Il castello di Kenilworth and Roberto Devereux, among others . Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana is about the Essex conspiracy and was premiered in 1953 on the occasion of the coronation of Elizabeth II , who - already known as no great opera friend - was reportedly disappointed with the opera. Even the audience could not be enthusiastic about the opera, which was conceived as a "national opera" but was not a state-sponsored opera, so that Gloriana became one of the few failures in Britten's operatic career. It was not until the 1990s that opera was rediscovered by theaters and audiences. Wolfgang Fortner took the conflict between Elisabeth and Maria Stuart as a template for his opera Elisabeth Tudor, which premiered in Berlin in 1972 (libretto: Matthias Braun and the composer).

More movies
  • 1940 The Lord of the Seven Seas ( The Sea Hawk )
  • 1955 The Virgin Queen ( The Virgin Queen )
  • In 2007, Elizabeth - The Golden Kingdom, a sequel to the 1998 film adaptation, was released in cinemas. It describes Elizabeth's relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh and the war against Spain. The role of queen was again taken over by Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett received a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her performance.
  • In 2011 in the film Anonymus by Roland Emmerich , Elisabeth is assumed to have a relationship with Edward de Vere , who turns out to be her illegitimate son. Another illegitimate son emerges from the relationship.
  • 2018 in the film Maria Stuart, Queen of Scotland , her "relationship" with Maria Stuart is thematized in fictional letters and their roles in a world dominated by men. She is portrayed by Margot Robbie .

In the numerous films about the life of the Scottish Queen Maria Stuart, Elisabeth always embodies her opponent. Including in The Queen's Heart with Zarah Leander , Mary of Scotland with Katharine Hepburn , Maria Stuart, Queen of Scotland (1971) with Vanessa Redgrave or Maria Stuart, Queen of Scotland (2018) with Saoirse Ronan . Often, Mary falls into the role of the martyr here, while Elisabeth is portrayed as an antagonist rather negatively.

watch TV

Glenda Jackson starred in Elizabeth R , a six-part BBC series. In 1971 the series won five Emmys , including two for Jackson himself. The latest adaptations are the four-hour series Elizabeth I - The Virgin Queen from 2005 with Anne-Marie Duff , which covers the entire reign, and the two-part film adaptation Elizabeth I from 2006 with Helen Mirren in the lead role. The first part is about the marriage negotiations with the Duke of Alençon and the conflict with Maria Stuart. The second part is about the Essex conspiracy. The film won nine Emmys, including for Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons as Leicester. In the satirical BBC television series Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson in the lead role, Miranda Richardson plays the role of an outrageous Elisabeth, who, however, aptly portrays some of the character traits of the original. In this version she falls victim to a poison attack.


  • Frederick Chamberlin (Ed.): The sayings of Queen Elizabeth . Dodd & Mead, New York 1923.
  • George B. Harrison (Ed.): The letters of Queen Elizabeth I of England ("The letters of Queen Elizabeth"). Beermann-Fischer, Vienna 1938.


  • Sabine Appel: Elizabeth I of England. Bechtle, Esslingen 2003, ISBN 3-7628-0528-8 .
  • Dieter Berg : The Tudors. England and the Continent in the 16th Century. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-17-025670-5 , p. 107ff.
  • John B. Black: The Reign of Elizabeth . OUP, Oxford 1994, ISBN 0-19-285293-0 (reprint of the Oxford 1959 edition).
  • Patrick Collinson : The Elizabethan Puritan Movement . Clarendon, London 2000, ISBN 0-19-822298-X (reprint of the London 1967 edition).
  • Tarnya Cooper (arr.): Elizabeth I. & her People. Exhibition catalog National Portrait Gallery, London 2013.
  • Thomas Kielinger: The Queen. Elizabeth I and the battle for England. C. H. Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73237-9 .
  • Jürgen Klein : Elisabeth I and her time . 2nd, supplemented edition. C. H. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 3-406-50841-3 .
  • Günther Lottes : Elisabeth I. A political biography. Muster-Schmidt, Göttingen 1981, ISBN 3-7881-0111-3 .
  • Natalie Mears: Queenship and Political Discourse in the Elizabethan Realms. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005, ISBN 0-521-81922-9 .
  • John E. Neale: Elizabeth I Queen of England ("Queen Elizabeth I."). Hugendubel, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-424-01226-2 .
  • Herbert Nette : Elisabeth I. With self-testimonies and photo documents. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2003, ISBN 3-499-50311-5 .
  • Jasper Ridley: Elisabeth I. A biography. Benziger, Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-545-34086-4 .
  • Robert Valerius: Female Rule in the 16th Century. The reign of Elizabeth I between realpolitik, querelle des femmes and the cult of the Virgin Queen. Centaurus, Herbolzheim 2002, ISBN 3-8255-0362-3 .
  • Neville Williams: Elizabeth I of England. Ruler of a world empire ("Elizabeth, queen of England"). Heyne, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-453-07907-8 (reprint of the Stuttgart 1969 edition).

Web links

Commons : Elisabeth I.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Elizabeth I, Queen of England . Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica .
  2. Ulrich Suerbaum, The Elizabethan Age, Reclam, Ditzingen: 1989, p. 12.
  3. Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) - kleio.org. Retrieved September 19, 2019 .
  4. This ring can be seen on Tudorhistory.org .
  5. David Starkey: Elizabeth. Apprenticeship Vintage 2001 pp. 66-72
  6. Susan Doran: The Court Ships of Elizabeth I . London 1996, p. 40
  7. Calendar of… State Papers Relating to English Affairs… in… Simancas 1558–1603. Ed. HMSHume, London 1892-1899, Vol. I, pp. 57-58
  8. George Adlard: Amy Robsart and the Earl of Leycester. John Russell Smith 1870, pp. 35, 41
  9. Calendar of… State Papers Relating to English Affairs… in… Simancas 1558–1603 . Ed. HMSHume, London 1892-1899, Vol. I, p. 263
  10. Calendar of… State Papers Relating to English Affairs… in… Simancas 1558–1603. Ed. HMSHume, London 1892-1899, Vol. III p. 477; Sylvia Freedman: Poor Penelope: Lady Penelope Rich. To Elizabethan Woman. London 1983, pp. 121-122
  11. ^ Frederick Chamberlin: Elizabeth and Leycester. New York 1939, pp. 136-164, 445-447; Alison Plowden: Marriage with my Kingdom. The Courtships of Queen Elizabeth I. BCA 1977, p. 137
  12. Harold H. Scudder: A Queen at Chesse . In: Modern Language Notes Vol. 42, No. 3 (March 1927), pp. 141–145, doi: 10.2307 / 2914185 (English)
  13. Sir Walter Raleigh Never Laid His Cloak Before Queen Elizabeth , www.trivia-library.com (English)
  14. a b Sir Francis Drake (1542-96) . In: Explorers & leaders. National Maritime Museum (English)
  15. ^ The Public Speaking of Queen Elizabeth. To the Troops at Tilbury 1588, pp. 96f
  16. ^ Robert Devereux, 19th (2nd Devereux) Earl of Essex, (1566-1601) . In: Historic Figures , BBC (English)
  17. Julia M. Walker: Reading the Tombs of Elizabeth I . In: English Literary Renaissance . tape 26 , no. 3 , September 1, 1996, ISSN  1475-6757 , p. 518-22 , doi : 10.1111 / j.1475-6757.1996.tb01509.x ( wiley.com [accessed December 10, 2016]).
  18. westminster-abbey.org; Figure , tudorhistory.org
  19. Julia M. Walker: Reading the Tombs of Elizabeth I . In: English Literary Renaissance . tape 26 , no. 3 , September 1, 1996, ISSN  1475-6757 , p. 529 , doi : 10.1111 / j.1475-6757.1996.tb01509.x ( wiley.com [accessed December 10, 2016]).
  20. Julia M. Walker: Reading the Tombs of Elizabeth I . In: English Literary Renaissance . tape 26 , no. 3 , September 1, 1996, ISSN  1475-6757 , p. 529 , doi : 10.1111 / j.1475-6757.1996.tb01509.x .
  21. to remain in virgin state as much as may be. ”Sylvia Freedman: Poor Penelope: Lady Penelope Rich. To Elizabethan Woman. London 1983, p. 41.
  22. Brooklyn Museum page on the artwork, accessed April 15, 2014.
predecessor Office successor
Maria I. Queen of England
Jacob I.
Maria I. Queen of Ireland
Jacob I.