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Elizabeth I Prepares for Her Coronation at the Tower of London

Updated on July 6, 2013
The Young Elizabeth I
The Young Elizabeth I

On January 12, 1559, Elizabeth I prepared for her coronation, which would take place the next day. This involved a journey to the Tower of London – a place that held her mother before her execution; a place that she had been held for a short time during the reign of her half-sister, Mary I; and the place she would imprison her Scottish cousin, Mary, Queen of the Scot.

The Early Life of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth was the second daughter of Henry VIII and the only child of Anne Boleyn. She was most unfortunate in that her mother had failed to provide an heir for the King of England and was executed when Elizabeth was just two years old. After that, Elizabeth was pushed aside; if only Henry VIII could look into the future and realise that daughters could become great rulers.

She was the final Tudor monarch and died a spinster. She has been nicknamed as the Virgin Queen due to her choice to not marry a man – in her later years, it is reported that she stated she married her country. It is unknown whether her parents’ marriage had any reasoning behind her choice not to marry or her later experiences with Thomas Seymour, her step-mother’s (Catherine Parr) last husband.

Elizabeth was stripped of her title of Princess after the marriage between Anne and Henry was annulled. She was to be known as Lady Elizabeth, similar to how her half-sister was known as Lady Mary. She was removed from the line of succession as all illegitimate children were. It was not until Catherine Parr that she was placed back into the line of succession, after her half-brother, Edward, and Mary.

Books About Elizabeth I

Raised as a Lutheran

Elizabeth was given Lutheran tutors when Catherine Parr become queen. Catherine was secretly a Lutheran and decided that it was best for Elizabeth and Edward to be raised that way. As Mary was much older and had already stated her catholic views, no Lutheran tutors were pushed on her. It could be argued that Catherine wanted to raise the children in the way she believed their mothers would have wanted.

After her father’s death, Elizabeth was placed in the care of her step-mother, who was loving and kind. Catherine married Thomas Seymour, Edward’s uncle, shortly after Henry’s death but Seymour’s eyes started to wander to the 13 year old princess. There were rumours that Seymour attempted to organise a marriage between himself and the young princess shortly before marrying Catherine but was unsuccessful. While Catherine was pregnant, Seymour and Elizabeth were caught in some way. The full manner is unknown but it lead to Elizabeth being removed from Catherine’s care.

Seymour attempted after Catherine Parr’s death to arrange a marriage with Elizabeth but she refused. She stated that she required the permission from the council and knew that this would never happen.

Elizabeth I - Good Queen Bess
Elizabeth I - Good Queen Bess

An Attempt to Remove Elizabeth I from Succession

During Edward VI’s reign, he made an attempt to remove Mary – and Elizabeth – from the line of succession. Edward believed that girls should never become queens in their own right and decided to put his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as queen after his death. She would be the only Queen of England in her own right. Edward also wanted to prevent the country from turning into a catholic state. This was unsuccessful as Mary had a lot of support from the English people.

Elizabeth remained in succession but Mary attempted to keep her away from the throne. Mary arranged her own marriage with Philip II of Spain and believed on two occasions that she was pregnant. During Mary’s reign in 1554, a rebellion started in an attempt to put Elizabeth on the throne. Mary believed that Elizabeth had arranged this and had her arrested and taken to the Tower of London. Elizabeth remained there for some time but her life was sparred as Mary’s council convinced her to only execute Elizabeth if there was hard evidence. During her time in the Tower, Elizabeth forged a friendship with Lord Dudley, who became a close friend of her.

In the May of 1554 Elizabeth was placed on house arrest and no longer had to stay in the Tower of London. It was not until April 17, 1555 that Elizabeth was removed from house arrest so that she could witness the birth of Mary’s first child, which turned out to be a phantom pregnancy. Mary died on November 17, 1558 and Elizabeth was announced as Queen shortly after.

Leading Up to the Coronation of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth spent the time leading up to her coronation planning everything that she would do. She had spent the months leading up to her half-sister’s death planning her government. Elizabeth’s main concern was to prove her legitimacy as Queen of England but she always wanted to help fix the religious issues. While she didn’t want the country to become a catholic realm once again, she didn’t want to persecute the many catholic people who lived in the country; similar to the way that Mary persecuted 300 protestants during her reign.

Elizabeth ensured that while she kept the protestant religion in the country, there were still catholic symbols. She took the protestant settlement from her brother’s reign and adapted it to suit her views. This was the first sign that she would become a just and fair queen.

Queen Elizabeth reigned until March 24, 1603. Upon her death, the crown passed onto her Scottish cousin, James VI of Scotland (James I of England), who was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, who Elizabeth had executed for treason. While nicknamed the Virgin Queen, she was also known as Good Queen Bess and proved that women could rule just as well as, if not better than, men.


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