Hiya, Weekend Warriors! Welcome to our third and last installment on Queen Elizabeth I, part of our weekly British history appreciation. Last week, we saw how Elizabeth overcame an unfortunate family feud and helped to protect Protestants from persecution throughout Europe. She also managed to offend King Philip II of Spain in the process, so now England faces war as the Spanish Armada approacheth…
Elizabeth I is already fighting against the odds by virtue of being a woman in a society that perceives such to be weak. In assuming the English throne, however, Elizabeth has shown herself to be otherwise—strong in mind and character, Spain’s attack only gives her ample opportunity to show off the tough stuff she’s made of. In 1588, she travels to meet her troops in Tilbury of Essex, where they await the Spanish navy. She addresses them such that they keep heart:
“. . . I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm . . .”
You go, girl! Thanks to your brave words, morale is high among the English, and thanks to England’s crap weather, naval conditions on the Channel are unfavorable for the Spanish. The English navy therefore reigns victorious in this battle and is regarded as the world’s most powerful.
In addition to being a brilliant public speaker, Elizabeth I is politically savvy. She’s able to maintain dominance as the monarch yet remain respectful of Parliament, and she’s strategic in manipulating situations to her advantage. She garners the great devotion of her advisers and public alike and perpetually refuses to marry, despite a close relationship with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. According to her, she is already married to England.
Reigning to the very end with dignity during a flourishing cultural period for England, Queen Elizabeth I dies at the age of seventy. With no heir of her own, she leaves her throne, interestingly enough, to the heir of the very cousin she had executed: James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots. Thus ends the Tudor dynasty and ushers in the House of Stuart.
Related London sightseeing: The tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots inside Westminster Abbey.