The Intriguing Younger Years of the Scarlet Virgin Queen
Who was Elizabeth I? This woman whose name has been scattered timelessly across our globe for hundreds of years since the day of her birth! Why is she still so important to us? What did she accomplish back in the days of darkness to make us so aware of herself and her time? And what does she, if anything, have to do with England’s current reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II?!
Born in The Palace of Placentia, Greenwich, England on the date of the 7th of September 1533 Elizabeth I, better known as Queen Elizabeth I, was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife Lady, to later Queen, Anne Boleyn. She is histories most famous of monarchs, with a lasting rule of forty-four years often referred to as The Golden Age. She had an entire era named after her (The Elizabethan Era) and ruled as a true patriot, taking no man to be her husband for already she was married to her country and people. From this she was nicknamed The Virgin Queen, over her rule collecting up to three names for herself: The Virgin Queen, Good Queen Bess (Bess being a further nickname for the name Elizabeth) and Gloriana (for all that she brought upon her reign and subjects)!
In 1601, two years previous to her death and our final year in the Elizabethan Era, a new poor law which is now known as The 43rd Elizabeth (in commemoration to our past Queen) was passed. It was this law besides all others that really went on to change the course of history and our future now. It gave a strong shape to similar systems for the poor across England through to America for three hundred years and since continuing as our backbone and greatest inspiration for how we deal with our poor today!
Many people ask whether or whether not both Queen Elizabeth’s were related and although so many hundreds of years separate them it is rightly true. Elizabeth I and II are first cousins fourteen times removed related through both Queen Elizabeth II’s mother and father’s ancestry. Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York being shared as their closest common ancestors.
Throughout her early life Elizabeth experienced many tumbles and turns. At just two years old her mum (Anne Boleyn) was beheaded for witch craft, adultery, treason and incest (with her brother George Boleyn) and she was declared a bastard, which in the days she lived meant her to be illegitimate. Besides this large set back to the throne she went on to later successfully succeed her sister Mary Tudor, otherwise known as Mary I and Bloody Mary during her reign as Queen.
After her declaration of illegitimacy she was subject to great neglect and although she still had Hatfield House (a palace in Hertforshire) which was bestowed upon her three months after her birth by the time her mum had died and her father had remarried to Jane Seymour she had already outgrown all her childhood clothing and her money had run dry. Lady Bryan, her first governess and for all intent and purposes her true mum, was even forced through dire circumstances to contact Secretary Thomas Cromwell to explain the situation, she went on to say how Elizabeth “hath neither gown, nor kirtle, nor petticoat.” And even for someone of a lower class system that would have been dismal. It was as if Henry was through neglect punishing Elizabeth as a reflection of her mother for his own actions against his first wife, whose situation was rather similar to that of Elizabeth’s by this point.
Henry’s new wife took pity on the young ex-Princesses Mary (who while Elizabeth was Princess had lived with and looked after her as Lady Mary) and Elizabeth and worked hard to reconcile them with their father, inviting them also back to court.
One of the most interesting points of Elizabeth’s early life however comes from her teenage years, after the death of her father and during the reign of her youngest sibling King Edward VI. After her father had passed away she had left the court and her old home to go and live with her father’s final wife Katherine Parr, whom she had grown quite close to. Ironically Katherine was named after Henry’s first wife by her mum Maud who had been previously the lady-in-waiting to the King’s first Queen. But instead of Henry leaving her and her dying it went quite the opposite way with after his death, just a few months later she married again to her lost love Thomas Seymour (brother of Jane Seymour), though in secret as they were unsure if it was to be allowed.
Once discovered of their crime, for it was a crime to be a courtly subject of the King and marry without his permission, the court was upset and horrified at her quickness to move on, also worried that if she became pregnant that it was too early after his late Highness’s to tell if it was his or Thomas’s. They were quickly forgiven by the young King though as Thomas was the boy’s uncle.
Though moving back to Elizabeth. Before he rekindled his ‘love’ for his wife Katherine he had expressed a desire to marry either one of the two princesses. And so while she was living there with them (from fourteen years old) he had become rather intimate with her, for the least to say. He would visit her bed chambers early morning in his nightclothes before she was dressed to tickle her and roughly mess around. Laughing and giggling could be heard from her chambers but no one still to this day knew how far anything between them went. Elizabeth’s new governess, Kat Ashley, was horrified and told him to leave the young princess alone. Even going so far as to going straight to his new wife about it. Though that did no good, she wished not to confront the subject in case she had to let go of her marriage. Though after Kat’s concerned were voiced she had to act on something .. And so she chaperoned them whenever Thomas, in his nightclothes, visited the young princess. Even on a few occasions she had joined in with the two. Thomas had retorted to Kat Ashley saying ‘By God’s precious soul, I mean no evil, and I will not leave it!’
By November 1647 Katherine was pregnant but the actions of her husband did not cease, as she knew. She had written it off as playful fun with nothing scandalous at all to be said about it. Yet one day his ‘playfulness’ had transfigured itself to something largely more dangerous. In front of his wife and servants, while all were present in the garden, he was reported to have slashed and ripped at the young Elizabeth’s gown, taking his games to a whole new level.
Another time Catherine had walked in on them in the spring of 1548 with the suspect that her husband the Admiral had more than his fair share of access to the young Elizabeth where she found the young girl lying in his arms. It was after this final slight that she fell out with her husband and step daughter. Elizabeth was sent away, to either avoid public scandal or to save Catherine’s marriage or both. She went to live at Ceshun the household of old and trusted friends of the royal family, Sir Anthony and Lady Denny!
Catherine received many affectionately written letters by her young step daughter and later gave birth to a baby girl whom she named Mary on the 30th August at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire. But she had soon fallen ill with puerperal fever after a few days and became uncharacteristically hostile towards all and delusional. To keep her quiet Thomas lay by her side in bed (although in my own opinion I would not be surprised if he had poisoned her for what he did after her demise) but this did not help and she died just a few days after the birth of her baby girl, just before the 15th birthday of her step daughter!
All her riches and possessions were bequeathed to Thomas making him on of the richest men in England at the time. Shortly after her death he had set his roaming hungry eye back on Elizabeth and had applied even to be her suitor, though this was denied by the Privy Council. It wasn’t long before he was arrested for treason after continuous plots for power.
And due to her fondness of him Elizabeth, Kat Ashley and Thomas Parry (another loyal servant of Elizabeth, soon to knighted upon her succession to the throne) were all investigated. The latter two were arrested on January 21st in attempts from the Council to figure out the entire relationship between Elizabeth and Admiral Thomas Seymour. Rumours were strong by this time of Elizabeth’s pregnancy by Thomas and that she had gone to be household of Mr Parry to have her child. There are documented sources telling of Elizabeth’s illnesses of migraine, catarrh and nephritis through her late teens and early twenties. It is assumed that these afflictions were either to have been caused by emotional shock and stress … Or a miscarriage.
During the investigation Elizabeth swore through and through of her virginity and herself and her friends were soon released with her name cleared. Thomas Seymour on the other hand was found guilty and treacherous, charge with High Treason and was executed on March 10 1549. The time the investigation was happening Elizabeth dressed herself in sombre clothing and behaved befittingly of her status as a virtuous Protestant Princess.
This would not be the last time she was arrested or by a sibling. The next time this kind of drama occurred was in the rule of her sister Mary I when she was suspected of of playing a role a Protestant rebellion. She was arrested for an entire year before being released.