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Soon after Elizabeth became queen of England, Protestants gained full control of Parliament. It now became very important to Parliament that Elizabeth should marry and produce a Protestant heir to the throne.
Parliament was worried that if Elizabeth died childless, Mary Stuart, a Catholic, would probably become queen of England. They feared that if that happened, all Protestants who held power under Elizabeth would be persecuted.
Elizabeth had many favourites in her own court. At various times rumours circulated that Elizabeth would marry men such as Sir Charles Hatton, the Earl of Leicester or the Earl of Arundel.
In October 1562 Elizabeth caught smallpox. For a while, doctors thought that Elizabeth would die. This illness made Parliament realise how dangerous the situation was. Therefore, after she recovered, they asked her once again to consider marriage. Elizabeth replied that she would think about it but she refused to make a decision.
In 1566 members of Parliament tried to force Elizabeth into action by discussing the subject in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Elizabeth was furious with Parliament for doing this. She ordered thirty members from each House to attend a meeting at Whitehall Palace. Elizabeth read out a long speech where she pointed out that whether she got married or not was something that she would decide. She added that for Parliament to decide this question was like "the feet directing the head".
The members of Parliament at the meeting agreed not to mention the issue again. However, some members were unwilling to remain quiet on the subject. One politician, Peter Wentworth, claimed that members of Parliament had the right to discuss any subject they wanted. Elizabeth responded by ordering him to be sent to the Tower of London.
In 1579 Elizabeth began having talks about the possibility of marrying the Duke of Anjou from France. John Stubbs wrote a pamphlet criticising the proposed marriage. Stubbs objected to the fact that the Duke of Anjou was a Catholic. He also argued that, at forty-six, Elizabeth was too old to have children and so had no need to get married.
Elizabeth was furious and ordered that Stubbs and the publisher of the pamphlet should be arrested. At first Elizabeth wanted the men to be hanged, but eventually she decided that the men should have their right hands cut off.
Elizabeth did not marry the Duke of Anjou. Nor did she marry anyone else. When Elizabeth died at the age of sixty-nine the Tudor dynasty came to an end.
(Source B) William Camden, The History of Queen Elizabeth (1617)
Stubbs and Page had their right hands cut off with a cleaver, driven through the wrist by the force of a mallet, upon a scaffold in the market-place at Westminster... I remember that Stubbs, after his right hand was cut off, took off his hat with his left, and said with a loud voice, "God Save the Queen"; the crowd standing about was deeply silent: either out of horror at this new punishment; or else out of sadness.
(Source C) L. Dannert, World History (1951)
Although Elizabeth was deluged with proposals of marriage from European royal houses she never married. She preferred to reign alone. And she knew how to do this as few others have done.
(Source D) Sir James Melville, Scottish Ambassador to England in conversation with Queen Elizabeth (1564)
You will never marry.... the Queen of England is too proud to suffer a commander... you think if you were married, you would only be Queen of England, and now you are king and queen both.
(Source E) Gómez Suárez de Figueroa y Córdoba (Duke of Feria), report to King Philip II of Spain (1559)
I understand that she (Elizabeth) can not have children.
(Source F) In March 1579, William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's chief minister, reported to other members of the Privy Council.
By judgement of physicians acquainted with her Majesty's body... she can have children. The investigation... proves that her Majesty to be very apt for the procreation of children.
(Source G) Hugh Arnold-Forster, A History of England (1898)
Who was the queen's husband to be, and what power was he to have over the government of the country? ... If he were a foreigner there was no knowing what power he might get over the queen, power which he would very likely use for the good of a foreign country, and not for the good of England. On the other hand, if he were an Englishman, he must be chosen from among the queen's subjects, and then it was certain that there would be jealousy and strife among all the great nobles in the country when they saw one of their number picked out and made king over them.
(Source H) Queen Elizabeth, comments to Sir William Maitland in April 1561.
As long as I live, I shall be Queen of England. When I am dead they shall succeed me who have the most right... I know the English people, how they always dislike the present government and have their eyes fixed upon that person who is next to succeed.
Question 1. Why was it very important to Parliament that Elizabeth got married and had children?
Question 2. Compare sources E and F. Which of these sources is the most reliable? Give reasons why you think the
other source is inaccurate.
Question 3. Give as many reasons as you can why Elizabeth did not get married.
Question 4. Study the list of reasons that you included in your previous answer. Do you think these reasons were of equal importance to Elizabeth? Explain your answer in as much detail as possible.
A commentary on these questions can be found here
You can download this activity in a word document here
You can download the answers in a word document here
The Truth About Queen Elizabeth II's Education
Queen Elizabeth has set some pretty impressive records. In 2015, she beat the record set by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, and became the longest-reigning monarch in the history of England, according to HuffPost. Not only that, but she's one of the most well-traveled monarchs, thanks in part to airplane accessibility, but also thanks to her work ethic. In fact, Queen Elizabeth only gets two days off in the whole year: Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, as per PopSugar.
While she works hard and has incredible stamina, Queen Elizabeth is actually not one of the most impressively educated monarchs in the history of England. In fact, the Queen has received criticism for her education, especially from the high-profile British historian, David Starkey. According to The Guardian, Starkey lamented the Queen's "absence of any kind of, to be blunt, serious education." Starkey also compared her to her namesake, Elizabeth I, and noted that the two both ascended the throne at 25, but the former "was 20 times as well educated. And had either five or six languages."
Despite this scathing review of Elizabeth's education, the Queen was carefully educated at home, along with her sister, Princess Margaret. According to an article from 1943 in The Atlantic, Elizabeth studied German, French, and music. The article praised young Elizabeth's interest in literature as well as her study of history under the guidance of the Vice-Provost of Eaton.
Elizabeth I’s difficult childhood
Elizabeth, daughter of the mercurial King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, was born on September 7, 1533, at Greenwich Palace. Though Anne had bewitched the King, she was despised by most of the court and the public. Her redheaded daughter was considered the stard child of a whore.”
Henry VIII had cast aside his universally respected Catholic wife, Catherine of Aragon, and their daughter, Mary, for Anne. He also broke with the Catholic Church when the Pope refused to validate his marriage to Anne. But the turmoil would be justified if Henry’s 𠇌oncubine” produced the male heir that the King and kingdom had long prayed for.
It was not to be. “The King’s mistress was delivered of a girl, to the great disappointment and sorrow of the King, and of the Lady herself,” Eustace Chapuys, the hostile ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire, wrote, 𠇊nd to the great shame and confusion of physicians, astrologers, wizards, and witches, all of whom affirmed that it would be a boy.”
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
This disappointment and her subsequent inability to produce a son, hastened the spectacular fall of Anne Boleyn. Although it is unknown whether three-year-old Elizabeth was aware of her mother’s execution in 1536, it appears the precocious, watchful girl was quick to notice the dramatic change in her station. “How haps it Governor,” she asked in 1537, “yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?”
And so, the newly-styled Lady Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and coldly hidden out of her father’s sight, with a small household and little income. Things got so bad that the year of her mother’s death, Elizabeth’s governess pleaded for money, complaining the child “hath neither gown, nor kirtle, nor petticoat.”
Elizabeth’s childhood was not totally devoid of comfort. She developed a devoted little court, and a clutch of servants who would stay with her for decades. Governess Kat Ashley would be like a mother to Elizabeth, taking "great labor and pain in bringing me up in learning and honesty."
The lonely child received a superior education. “The constitution of her mind is exempt from female weakness,” her tutor Robert Ascham would write. “She is endued with a masculine power of application. No apprehension can be quicker than hers, no memory more retentive.”
Elizabeth was occasionally brought to the English court where she impressed her distant father with her intellectual prowess. She also developed a relationship with her step-mother, Henry’s fifth wife, Katherine Howard, only to see the flighty teen executed by her father in 1542. It is said that this was the incident that prompted the practical nine-year-old to vow she would never marry.
Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth I primary resource
This primary resource explores the life of Queen Elizabeth I. Discover significant events that occurred during the Queen’s lifetime. When was she born? How long did she rule for? Did Queen Elizabeth I marry?
In our National Geographic Kids History primary resource sheet, pupils will learn about Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood, coronation and the changes she made during her reign.
The teaching resource can be used in study group tasks for a simple overview of Queen Elizabeth I’s life and reign. It can be used as a printed handout for each pupil to read themselves, or for display on the interactive whiteboard, as part of a whole class reading exercise.
Activity: Ask the children to make an illustrated Queen Elizabeth I timeline. As well as the information covered in our primary resource, encourage pupils to carry out their own research for new facts and events to include. The timelines could be used as part of an Elizabethan classroom display.
N.B. The following information for mapping the resource documents to the school curriculum is specifically tailored to the English National Curriculum and Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. We are currently working to bring specifically tailored curriculum resource links for our other territories including South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. If you have any queries about our upcoming curriculum resource links, please email: [email protected]
This History primary resource assists with teaching the following History objectives from the National Curriculum:
- Know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day: how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world
- Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history and between short- and long-term timescales
National Curriculum Key Stage 1 History objective:
- Pupils should be taught: significant historical events, people and places in their own locality
- Pupils should be taught: the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria]
National Curriculum Key Stage 2 History objective:
- Pupils should be taught a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066
This primary resource also assists with teaching the following English objectives from the National Curriculum:
- Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum
This History primary resource assists with teaching the following Social Studies Second level objective from the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:
Famous for being Queen of England 1558-1603
Born – 7th September 1533 – Greenwich Palace London
Parents – Henry VIII King of England, Anne Boleyn
Siblings – Mary (half-sister), Edward (half-brother)
Married – No
Children – No
Died – 24th March 1603
Elizabeth was born in 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. After her mother was beheaded she was declared illegitimate. Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London for much of Mary’s reign on suspicion of plotting with Protestants to remove Mary from the throne and take her place. She had been excluded from the succession by Edward VI due to her illegitimacy but this was overturned by the government following Mary’s death.
Elizabeth was crowned in Westminster Abbey on 15th January 1559.
As Queen, Elizabeth needed to win the support of her people, both Catholics and Protestants, and those who believed that a woman could not rule a country by herself. One of the best ways for a monarch to win support was by making a tour of the country and showing themselves to the people. However, Elizabeth had many Catholic enemies and it was not safe for her to travel around the country. She chose, instead, to use portraits to show herself to her people. It was, therefore, essential that the portraits showed an image of Elizabeth that would impress her subjects. At intervals throughout her reign the government issued portraits of Elizabeth that were to be copied and distributed throughout the land. No other portraits of the Queen were allowed.
From the time of her accession, Elizabeth was pursued by a variety of suitors, eager to marry the most eligible woman in the world. However, Elizabeth never married. One theory is that she never married because the way that her father had treated his wives had put her off marriage, another is that she was abused by Thomas Seymour while under the care of Katherine Parr, a third theory suggests that she was so in love with Robert Dudley that she could not bring herself to marry another man. When Elizabeth became Queen, Robert Dudley was already married. Some years later his wife died in mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth could not marry him because of the scandal it would cause both at home and abroad.
As queen, Elizabeth established a moderate Protestant church with the monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Her action led to her excommunication by the Pope and also made her subject to Catholic plots to remove her from the throne and replace her with her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. This ultimately led to Elizabeth being forced to sign the warrant for Mary Queen of Scots’ execution.
Her foreign policy was largely defensive, however her support of the Dutch against Spain was a contributary factor that led to the invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Elizabeth died in 1603. Her death marked the end of the Tudor dynasty. She was succeeded by Mary Queen of Scots’ son James.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's marriage was 'strained'
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip might have been married for over seven decades, but the first years of their marriage got off to a rocky start. It was a different time in 1947, and men weren't used to being married to powerful women, much less a queen.
"This extremely active enthusiastic young man who suddenly finds his whole life is going to be taken away from him and probably thinking he will become a 'yes man' for the rest of his life," Prince Philip's cousin, Lady Pamela Hicks, said in National Geographic documentary Being the Queen. "This really devastated their lives, actually, as a married couple." Philip's friend, Larry Adler added, "I was at his bachelor party the night before the wedding to Princess Elizabeth. He was scared. His face was white. This man just began to realize what he was getting into."
Philip had a difficult time transitioning into the role. "I think he had to find his way . I'm sure it was very strained at first and for someone like Philip to acquiesce to the nation and basically give up his bride to the world and take a backseat to everything that's going on," the documentary's executive producer Tom Jennings tells Us Weekly in during an episode of Royally Us. "I think he managed to get through it, but I'm sure it was a very strained time for them."
Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip Don’t Normally Live Together & Here’s Why
In the past, followers of the royal family have wondered why Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip don’t live together. The answer is surprisingly simple, according to one royal biographer.
While the Queen, 94, and the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, are both currently hunkered down at Windsor Castle, it actually isn’t typical for the royal couple to live together. Rather, the couple has decided to reside at Windsor together again only after Britain entered its second lockdown, palace officials confirmed on November 5. Staying at Windsor Castle isn’t so different for the Queen, who often splits her time between the castle and Buckingham Palace to carry out her duties as monarch. But this is a big change for Prince Philip, on the other hand.
It may come as a surprise to hear that the Duke usually spends his days living at Wood Farm at the royal family’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England—where he’s lived, for the most part, ever since retiring from his duties in 2017. For those worrying, just know that Prince Philip’s reasons for living at Wood Farm don’t come down to any kind of feud with his wife! According to Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of royal magazine Majesty and author of Prince Philip Revealed: A Man of His Century, living at the Sandringham Estate is simply because the space is more “comfortable” for him in his old age.
Speaking on an episode of the podcast “Pod Save the Queen,” Seward revealed that Philip much prefers the quiet pace of Norfolk to the palace. “Philip loves Norfolk,” she explained to Mirror editor, Zoe Forsey. “There is a lovely place in Norfolk called Wood Farm where the Queen and all the Royal Family stay when they don’t want to open what they call the ‘big house,’ the big house at Sandringham. And Philip loves it there and it sort of works for him.”
She continued, “It’s very small – comparatively small, it wouldn’t be small to us, it’s a beautiful beamed farmhouse, it wouldn’t be small to us – but for them, it’s cozy, it’s intimate.” At Wood Farm, Seward says Prince Philip can often be found enjoying simpler pleasures like reading books and watching television—basically anything that doesn’t leave him “surrounded by lots of footmen and flunkies” like he would be at Windsor Castle or the palace.
“I think the Queen just thought he would be more peaceful there,” Seward added. “And when somebody is at that great age, she wants him to be comfortable. And it was as simple as that.”
It’s unclear how much time Philip has spent at Wood Farm this year, given the royal family’s decision for him to join the Queen at Windsor Castle in March. He spent the following months quarantining with the Queen. While Express reports that the pair parted ways for a short time after “restrictions eased in the summer,” the Duke of Edinburgh is now officially back with Her Majesty at Windsor as the country enters its second national lockdown.
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8 things you didn’t know about Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II
On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest-reigning British monarch, surpassing her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria. In honor of the event, here are eight things you might not know about the two royals.
1. Her name wasn’t actually Victoria.
When Victoria was born her uncle, the Prince Regent (the future George IV) had prohibited the royal names Charlotte, Elizabeth or Georgina. Victoria was therefore named ‘Alexandrina’ after her godfather, the Russian Tsar Alexander I. Her second name, Victoria, was after her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. For most of her childhood Victoria was therefore known as “Drina,” and up until her coronation, many in the general public were unsure of her official name.
2. Seven people had to die in order for her to become queen.
Victoria was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, who was the fourth son of King George III. It therefore seemed very unlikely that Edward, or any of his children, would end up being the monarch. However, George III’s first son, George IV died without heirs (his daughter, Princess Charlotte, died during childbirth). George III’s second son, Frederick, Duke of York, died before George IV did, and had no legitimate children. Then William IV, George III’s third son, also died without surviving legitimate children (his two legitimate daughters died in infancy), and so the crown passed to Victoria, whose father had died when she was just a child.
Queen Victoria in her wedding dress, painted in 1847 as an anniversary gift for her husband. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
During Victoria’s time, brightly colored dresses were worn for weddings. When Victoria wore white, it was considered too drab for a royal wedding, especially since she didn’t wear a crown, opting instead for an orange-blossom wreath. Although several other monarchs had worn white, it is Victoria who is credited with starting the trend, as a few years after her wedding, a popular ladies’ journal encouraged women to wear white.
4. She proposed to her husband.
Marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Feb. 10, 1840. Engraving scanned from 19th century book, “True Stories of the Reign of Queen Victoria” by Cornelius Brown, 1886. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Because she was queen, it was Victoria’s responsibility to propose to her husband Albert, not the other way around. In her diary, Victoria wrote that she called Albert into her bedroom and told him “it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wished (to marry me) we embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind, so affectionate … I really felt it was the happiest brightest moment in my life.” Victoria and Albert were married for over 20 years and had nine children. After he died, she wore mourning clothes for the rest of her life.
5. She has the longest marriage of the British monarchy.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh wave at the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace on June 2, 1953. Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
In 1947 Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip, six years before her coronation. She met her Prince Charming when she was only 13 years old, and the two have been happily married now for 68 years. When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, it was the first and so far only time in British history where the presumed heir to the throne wasn’t actually single. Even the queens that preceded her did not marry until after they were crowned, if they got married at all.
Queen Elizabeth II with one of her corgis at Sandringham, 1970. Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Although English royals have a history of being devoted to their dogs, no world leader in history has been as widely identified with their pets as Queen Elizabeth II is with her corgis. “My corgis are my family,” she has said. Since she feeds the corgis herself and takes them on walks whenever possible, her corgis have become a symbol for her relatability with the general population of Britain. Her beloved dogs also serve to bring her down to earth in the eyes of the public. The Queen personally oversaw a corgi breeding program based in Windsor Castle since the 1950s, but it doesn’t look like any more corgi puppies are in the works anymore. The Royal press secretary would not comment on reports that the Queen stopped breeding her corgis, but she now has only two of them left: Holly and Willow.
7. She’s “undocumented.”
The Queen has visited more countries than any other British monarch (reportedly more than 116), even though she doesn’t have a passport. The cover of the British passport features the Royal Arms, and followed by the words “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.” Since the passport is issued in the Queen’s name, she is not required to have one to travel outside of Britain. Unfortunately this is a perk only the Queen gets even Prince William and Kate Middleton need an official I.D. to jetset.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth waves during a visit to the Bank of England in the City of London Dec. 13, 2012. Photo by Eddie Mulholland/Reuters
8. She can fix your truck.
Before she was crowned Queen of England, 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. Ditching her usual colorful dresses for some military overalls, Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor went to London to train as a mechanic and truck driver. Apparently she begged her father (the King at the time) for several months to let her help in the war effort before he finally gave in.
Left: Left, portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by artist Andrew Festing. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images and right, portrait of Queen Victoria, 1887. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Unable to marry the man of her choice without tarnishing her reputation or causing national divisions, Elizabeth remained single for the rest of her reign. She also steadfastly refused to allow discussion about the succession. As early as 1559 she made her reasons clear in a message to the House of Commons:
‘Assuredly, if my successor were known to the world, I would never esteem my state to be safe.’
Elizabeth sacrificed her personal happiness for the good of the state. At her death in 1603, Robert Dudley's last letter, written to her six days before his own death in September 1588, was found in a small casket by her bed. A poignant reminder of her sacrifice and what might have been.
Elizabeth calls Philip &aposmy strength&apos
In 1957, Elizabeth made her husband a Prince of the United Kingdom. And in 1960, she acknowledged his ongoing unhappiness about their children not taking his name by deciding that their descendants could use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor. However, her compromise only went so far, as the royal family would continue to be known as the House and Family of Windsor.
Lord Charteris, private secretary to the queen, once said, "Prince Philip is the only man in the world who treats the queen simply as another human being. He&aposs the only man who can. Strange as it may seem, I believe she values that." It&aposs one reason why their love story resulted in such a long-lasting relationship.
While celebrating their 50 years of marriage in 1997, Elizabeth lauded Philip: "He is someone who doesn&apost take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know."