UK Constitution and Government/British Monarchs/Elizabeth I of England

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Born: 7 Sep 1533, Greenwich Palace, London, England

Christened: 10 Sep 1533

Acceded: 17 Nov 1558, Hatfield House

Crowned: 15 Jan 1558, Westminster Abbey, London, England

Died: 24 Mar 1603, Richmond Palace, London, England

Buried: Westminster Abbey, London, England

Father: HENRY VIII TUDOR (King of England)

Mother: Anne BOLEYN (M. Pembroke/Queen of England)




"The Ermine Portrait" Painted in 1585 by Nicholas Hilliard In the collection of the Marquess of Salisbury, at Hatfield House



See her at The Queen Gallery

Elizabeth Tudor was born on 7 Sep 1533 at Greenwich to Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth's life was troubled from the moment she was born. Henry VIII had changed the course of his country's history in order to marry Anne, hoping that she would bear him the strong and healthy son that Catalina de Aragon never did.


After her christening, Elizabeth spent her first weeks in the royal nurseries, tended by her wet-nurse, her dry nurses the women who rocked her cradle and the women who did her laundry. When she was three months old, she was given her own household, as etiquette required, and on a cold, mid-december afternoon she was carried out to a richly decorated litter and taken in procession through the streets of London, escorted by her great-uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. They stopped at Lord Rutland´s house in Enfield for the night, and the next morning they went on to the palace of Hatfield, in Hertfordshire, which was to be her home.

As soon as he had seen the baby safely settled in her crimson satin cradle, Norfolk rode off to Essex on an embarassing mission. He was to fetch Princess Mary. Already deprived of her title of Princess of Wales and told that she was illegitimate, the resentful seventeen-year old was to go to Hatfield as one of her sister ladies in waiting. Mary´s unhappiness and her obstinancy were disturbing elements in Elizabeth´s early childhood. Whenever the household moved to a different location there was another embarassing scene.

These dramas apart, life in the household was carefully regulated. All major decisions had to be referred to Henry. Anne too kept a close watch to the nursery; she chose all Elizabeth´s clothes: her personal tailor, William Loke, made the princess´s germents. The girl was like her father in colouring, with golden-red hair and a very fair skin, and Anne ordered dresses of white damask, green satin and yellow satin for her. These details mattered, for clothing was an important indication of status.

Anne did eventually conceive a son, but he was stillborn. By that point, Henry had begun to grow tired of Anne and began to plot her downfall. Most, if not all, historians agree that Henry's charges of incest against Anne were false, but they were all he needed to sign her execution warrant. She was beheaded on the Tower Green in May, 1536, before Elizabeth was even three years old.

No one knows who told Elizabeth what happened, or what she felt. Her own household was thrown into a state of disarray. Henry was peoccupied with his new wife and now that Anne Boleyn was gone there was no one to give the necessary orders about the child´s clothing. To make matters worse, John Shelton, her mother´s uncle, was disrupting the daily routine by imprudently insisting that Elizabeth should take her meals with everyone else in the hall instead of eating