In 1558, however, Edward's will was set aside and Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, Mary to the throne. Elizabeth had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels. One of Elizabeth's first acts as queen was to support the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement later evolved into the modern Church of England. As a ruler, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and her siblings. Many of her counsellors didn't approve of this strategy, but it often saved her from political and marital mistakes. Even though Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, the defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588 forever tied her name with what is popularly viewed as one of the greatest victories in English history. Within twenty years of her death, Elizabeth was being celebrated as the ruler of a golden age. Her reign is also famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe and the foreign adventures of men such as explorers Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and others. Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25. As her triumphal procession snaked through the city, she was greeted cheerfully by her subjects. Elizabeth's open and gracious responses endeared her to the spectators.
The following day, 15 January 1559, Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey and anointed by the Catholic bishop of Carlisle. She was then presented for the people's acceptance, amidst the deafening noise of organs, fifes, trumpets, drums and bells. On 20 Noevember 1558, Elizabeth declared her intentions to her Council and other peers who had come to Hatfield to swear allegiance. The speech contains the first instance of her often used metaphor of the "two bodies": the body natural and the body politic. My lords, the law of nature moves me to sorrow for my sister; the burden that is fallen upon me makes me amazed, and yet, considering I am God's creature, ordained to obey His appointment, I will thereto yield, desiring from the bottom of my heart that I may have assistance of His grace to be the minister of His heavenly will in this office now committed to me. And as I am but one body naturally considered, though by His permission a body politic to govern, so shall I desire you all...to be assistant to me, that I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth. I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and counsel.
Elizabeth and her advisors perceived a threat of a possible Catholic crusade against heretical England. Elizabeth sought a Protestant solution that would not offend Catholics too much while acknowledging the desires of English Protestants; she would not tolerate the more radical Puritans, however, who were wanting far more reaching reforms. As a result the parliament of 1559 started to legislate for a church based on the Protestant after Edward VI, with the monarch as its head, but with many superficially Catholic elements, such as priestly vestments.
It was never clear why Elizabeth never married. Some speculate that she might have known she was sterile. Whatever the case, her last courtship ended in 1581 when she was 48 -well past child-bearing years. This was with a man 22 years younger than she. Elizabeth had kept the marriage question open, but often only as a diplomatic ploy. Parliament repeatedly petitioned her to marry, but she always side-stepped the question. In 1563, she told a imperial envoy: "If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar woman and single, far rather than queen and married." That same year, after her illness with smallpox, the succession question became an even greater concern. Parliament urged the queen to marry or nominate an heir, to prevent a civil war after her death. She refused to do either. The House of Commons threatened to withhold funds until she named a successor. In 1566, she confided to the Spanish ambassador that if she could find a way to settle the succession without marrying, she would do so. By 1570, senior figures in the government privately accepted that Elizabeth would never marry or name a successor. Elizabeth was often accused of negligence due to this failure. However, her silence on the matter strengthened her own political security; she knew that if she named an heir, her throne would be vulnerable to a coup.
Apart from courthship with a man she actually loved, her childhood friend, Lord Robert Dudley, Elizabeth treated marriage as an aspect of foreign policy. She had turned down Philip II's offer in 1559, but negotiated for several years to marry his cousin Archduke Charles of Austria. Relations with the Habsburgs declined by 1568. Elizabeth the considered marriage to the two French Valois princes in turn, first Henri, Duke of Anjou, and later from 1572 to 1581, his brother Francois, Duke of Anjou. The last proposal was tied to a planned allegiance against Spanish control of the Southern Netherlands. Elizabeth's foreign policy was largely defensive. The exception was the disastrous occupation of Le Havre from October 1562 to June 1563, when Elizabeth's Huegenot allies joined the Catholics to retake the port. Elizabeth had intended to exchange Le Havre for Calais, retaken by France in January 1558. She sent troops to Scotland in 1560 to prevent the French from using it as a base. In 1585, she signed the Treaty of Nonsuch with the Dutch to block the Spanish threat to England. Only through the activities of her fleets did Elizabeth puruse an aggressive policy. This paid off in the war against Spain-80% of which was fought at sea. She knighted Francis Drake after he circumnavigated the globe from 1577 to 1580, and he also won accolades for his raids on Spanish ports and fleets. There was an element of piracy and mercenary self-enrichement that drove Elizabethan voyages-much the same as other powers of her time, before and afterwards.
Elizabeth reign also witnessed the first colonization of new land in North America; the colony of Virginia was named by her. Elizabeth's policy towards Scotland was to oppose the French prescence there. She was afraid the French planned to invade England and put Mary, Queen of Scots, who was considered by many to be the true heir to the crown, on the throne. When Mary returned to Scotland in 1561 to take power, the country had established a Protestant church and was run by nobles who supported Elizabeth. Mary refused to ratify the treaty. Elizabeth had offended Mary by proposing her own suitor, Robert Dudley, as a husband. Instead, in 1565 Mary married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, who carried his own claim to the English throne. The marriage was the first of a series of errors of judgment by Mary that gave the victory to the Scottish Protestants and to Elizabeth. Darnley became unpopular in Scotland and then infamous for presiding over the murder of Mary's Italian secretary, David Rizzio. In February 1567, Darnley was murdered by conspirators, almost certainly led by James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell.
Shortly afterwards, on 15 May 1567, Mary married Bothwell, arousing suspicions that she had been involved in the murder of her husband. Elizabeth wroter to her: How could a worse choice be made for your honour than in such haste to marry such a subject, who besides other and notorious lacks, public fame has charged with the murder of your late husband, besides the touching of yourself also in some part, though we trust in that behalf falsely. These events led quickly to Mary's defeat and imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle, near Kinross, Scotland. The Scottish lords forced her to abdicate in favor of her son James, who had been born in 1566. James was taken to Stirling Castle to be raised as a Protestant. Mary escaped from Loch Leven in 1568, but after another defeat fled across the border to England, where she had once been assured the support of Elizabeth. Elizabeth had thought to restore her half-sister and fellow monarch; but she and her council chose a more cautious route. Rather than risk returning Mary to Scotland with an English army or sending her to France and the Catholic enemies of England, they detained her in England. Mary was imprisoned there for the next nineteen years.
Whenever the next article is ready to go, it should finally have more information about John Dee and Edward Kelley. I just thought it might be good to have some background to this historical era-and will try to continue to talk about this era in these articles. The image at top is of Elizabeth 1 in her Coronation Robes. The next image is of Elizabeth as a younger woman and the last image is of Mary, Queen of Scots. Thanks again for your comments and best to all of you!