Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Elizabeth I, Queen of England

by | November 13, 2013 | 16 comments

Elizabeth I 

Elizabeth had always been a hero of mine, probably why my MA in History is a specialization in Tudor and Stuart England. 

 Elizabeth’s greatness lies in two parts.  The first that she survives to become Queen, and second that she guided England from the disastrous state she inherited to a wealthy and stable country. 

 As the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was born a princess, but as Henry progressed through his six wives, she was declared illegitimate, shifted from pillar to post and eventually reinstated in the succession after her younger half-brother Edward, her older half sister Mary (who also went through the legitimate/ill legitimate back and forth). 

 After nine year old Edward VI succeed at Henry’s death he, and he pushed the English church further into Protestantism.  To maintain the change in religion started under Henry, Edward and his advisors changed the order of succession leaving out both Mary and Elizabeth.  He left the throne to Lady Jane Grey, a great-grand daughter of Henry VII and Edward’s cousin.  Lady Jane Grey just happened to be married to Gilford Dudley, the son of Edward’s chief advisor.

 The country, however, supported Mary Tudor.   Being the authentic inheritor of was more important than Mary’s Catholic religion.  Unfortunately, Mary tried to bring England back into the Catholic fold.  The burning of Protestant martyrs earned her the sobriquet Bloody Mary.  And from her marriage to Philip II of Spain she allied England to her old enemy Spain and would have, upon the birth of a child, made England a part of the Spanish.  Supporting the Spanish cause cost England their last remaining enclave on the contentment with the loss of Calais.

 While Mary was queen there were several rebellions as protest against the reinstatement of Catholicism or against the marriage to Philip.  As the Protestant heir to the throne, Elizabeth was the focus of any attempt to end Mary’s reign.  Mary had Elizabeth in and out of the tower or under house arrest with these rebellions. 

 Her early childhood taught Elizabeth to keep her innermost thoughts and feelings to herself, and she continued to do so throughout her queen ship.

 The second part of the Elizabeth’s greatness was her forty four year reign that brought stability to England.  At the beginning of her reign the Scottish preacher John Knox published The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Reign of Women, predicting disaster in France with the regency of Catherine de’Medici, in Scotland with Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth in England.

 France as racked by religious wars under Catherine and her sons, Mary was forced from Scotland and lived as a prisoner in England.  Only Elizabeth and England prospered.  Along with her chief advisor, William Cecil (later Lord Burghley), Elizabeth declared she would ‘make no eyes into men’s souls’.  She became the Supreme Governor of the English Protestant church, which evolved into today Church of England.

 She became known as the Virgin Queen (hence the colony of Virginia).  She most likely loved Robert Dudley, but often said she would have no man before her. Early in her reign she refused to marry, for to do so would tie England to another country.  And later her various engagement formed alliances that helped the country.  She often spoke of England as her child.

 Other major events under her reign included the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, which let England rule the seas and develop her colonies in the Americas.  This was the time of the Elizabethan Renaissance as under her reign prosperity and stability bought forth a burst of literary figures such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlow and Edmund Spenser.

 The historian’s view of Elizabeth, as with all history, changes depending on the era of the historian writing about her.  Elizabeth was considered vulgar (as was the whole Elizabethan age) by the strict Victorians.  As Queen Victoria said of Elizabeth ‘so unkind to our ancestress, the Queen of Scots’.  A revival of the iconic Good Queen Bess came with WWII, as England once again faced a possible invasion.

 Yes, Elizabeth made some mistakes (ask about the Earl of Essex), and never made a decision today that she could put off until tomorrow (see the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots).  And it’s true that as she grew older, the more her couturiers praised her beauty, which she almost demanded.  However, in her private bathing room she had many mirrors.  While she might show her royal persona to the public, to her own self she pulled no punches. 

 As you can tell, I could write more about Elizabeth as she was the subject of my thesis.  Which is one of the reasons I have so much trouble with her portray in films.  But then maybe seeing a film with Elizabeth will cause someone to actually read about her.   If you have questions, be sure to ask. 









  1. Gerri Bowen

    She’s one of my favorite women too, Terry.

  2. Georgie Lee

    I love reading about Tudor and Stuart England. There are so many interesting players, plots and stories!

  3. Rue Allyn

    An outstanding post written by an outstanding author about an outstanding woman. What more can I say?

  4. Ella Quinn

    That was a great post. I admire her as well.

  5. Ally Broadfield

    Great post. This is the best short bio I’ve ever read about her.

  6. Lisa Kessler

    Great blog Terry!!!

    Did you watch The Tudors on showtime? I’m sure it wasn’t completely accurate, but wow it was interesting watching the underhanded politics of the royal court… Yikes!


  7. Jody

    Terri re: Tudors (TV) the whole issue of combining Mary and Margaret was the fact that they (-roducers) were sure the viewoing public would be confused by the two Mary Tudors; the sister vs the daughter so they decided to make the younger sister Mary into the older sister Margaret. In reality not sure how James IV of Scotland would have felt about that.

    Having done a lot of research on the Anglo/Scots border if you read the Calendar of Border Papers, which tell of what was going on on the borders the second volumn is ripe with records of Elizabeth’s fear of invasion from the north, not so much by the Scots but by the Spanish with the help of the Scots whose many magnates were taking $$$ to influence the court of the Scottish crown especially when Mary fled Scotland to England and was later imprissioned. Here is a link to those papers… http://www.archive.org/details/borderpaperscale02grea Very interesting reading if you want to know who abused her crown i the North of England and what they spent from her crown to fortify Berwick and Carlisle against invasion.

    Elizabeth was a man’s queen because she understood men on their level and governed with her mind not her heart like Mary of Scotland did. I can understand why Victoria felt the way she did about Mary of Scotland and I have to wonder if that sentiment occured after she spent so much time at Balmoral and with her ghille.

  8. Terry Irene Blain

    Woo! Rue Alllyn, you must be my fan club. (really, she is not my mom)

  9. Terry Irene Blain

    Hi Georgie, yes the Tudors and Stuarts it all. You couldn’t get away in fiction some of the real things that happened.

  10. Terry Irene Blain

    Geri, I think one of the reasons I like Elizabeth so much is she was a success as a woman in a man’s world.

  11. Sharla Rae

    I love the way you included the juiciest tid bits rather than the history book stuff. Great blog! I tweeted this!

  12. Terry Irene Blain

    Shala Rae, I was lucky enough to study for my MA with an instructor who’d actually studied in England, so he was good with a lot of insite a she knew where to look. In 1984, my husband and I finally got to England and Scotland for three weeks. What fun.

  13. Terry Irene Blain

    Fortunately, I don’t have HBO, so I didn’t watch the Tudors which I’m sure would have driven me crazy. How can you combine Henry VIII’s two sisters, Mary and Margaret into one person!!! They both played diffenent roles in politics and by who they married had great impact.

    Think this is part of trying to condense too much into not enough time, and some dumbing down for the audience (which probably is not necessary)

  14. Terry Irene Blain

    Ally, thanks for the comment. For me it’s hard to write short when I have more information (which is why I write the synopsis before I write the book).

    A good, short book on Elizabeth is Eizabeth I CEO: Strategic Lessons form the Leader Who Built and Empire. good, quick read in short sections.

  15. Terry Irene Blain

    Oops! Elizabeth I CEO by Alan Axelrod

  16. Juanita F. Mosley

    The following year, 1537, Jane died after giving birth to a son, Edward . Mary was made godmother to her half-brother and acted as chief mourner at the queen’s funeral.



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