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Queen Elizabeth I

During America's early founding, the Puritans escaped from England because they believed that the Church of England still held too many remnants of Catholicism, and they viewed the Bible as their only source of spiritual truth. The interesting part of this is that the Church of England was founded as a Protestant-based church by Queen Elizabeth I's father Henry VIII, who broke from Catholicism to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth's mother.

Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I

So in this biography of Queen Elizabeth I's life, we're going to see how religious differences among various European nations played major roles in how Queen Elizabeth ruled England and all territories that she claimed for this nation. Not only that, but we can also learn a lesson in gender relations during this period of English history and the ways in which Queen Elizabeth I lived contrary to these constraints that were on English women at the time.

Queen Elizabeth I was born to King Henry VIII and Queen Anne. Elizabeth's birth came following a scandalous and groundbreaking time for her parents. King Henry VIII was first married to Catherine of Aragon, and although she had many children with him, most of them died young and Catherine had one daughter, Mary, who would become Elizabeth I's half-sister.

Because Catherine of Aragon failed to give Henry VIII a son, he sought the Pope's permission to have the marriage annulled. It's important to understand why Henry VIII desperately wanted a male heir. He didn't believe that women would rule very well, and this was the reflection of many men's attitudes towards women in England during this time. Women were taught to believe that they were inferior to men and girls knew they had to obey not only their fathers but older brothers and male relatives.

And when women married, their primary lot in life was to marry, bear children and look after the household for the rest of their lives. In addition to this, women from upper class families couldn't choose their husbands because their families often arranged the marriages. To add further pressure to the married woman, she had to produce a male heir to continue the family bloodline regardless of her class. If a woman committed adultery, she was severely punished, even to the point of being burned at the stake. Wife beating was common and tolerated in English society during this time.

When the Pope refused to recognize Henry VIII's annulment to Catherine of Aragon, he made a revolutionary step and broke away from the Catholic Church to start his own church entitled the Church of England, which would be based on Protestantism, Catholicism's main rival. Henry VIII was then able to get rid of Catherine of Aragon and marry his new lover Anne Boleyn, who was pregnant.

But soon his love for Queen Anne would fade as the baby she gave birth to was a daughter named Elizabeth. Henry VIII was disappointed and humiliated about the situation, and some years later he had Queen Anne executed on false charges of witchcraft and adultery when Elizabeth was two years old. From that point on, Henry VIII's marriage to Queen Anne was annulled and as a result, Elizabeth was seen as a bastard child. She lost her title as "princess" and was not allowed to stay in the main court.

Growing up she had three stepmothers, one of which gave birth to her younger brother Edward VI. The two siblings got along well and both shared interests in literature and music. But Elizabeth was not very close with her older half sister Mary. Elizabeth had grown up Protestant while Mary grew up Catholic, and their personalities were different. As a child, Elizabeth was an intelligent and inquisitive child who was taught foreign languages, history, mathematics and philosophy.

After her brother Prince Edward VI died at an early age, her half-sister Mary became the Queen of England. It was under Queen Mary's rule that Catholicism became the official religion once again in England, and she severely persecuted Protestants, including her sister Elizabeth. Because Queen Mary felt that Elizabeth was a participant in a Protestant uprising to overthrow her, she had Elizabeth imprisoned for a few years and when Queen Mary died, Elizabeth became the next queen of England and like her father Henry VIII, she established Protestantism as the nation's official religion, and everyone had to attend Protestant services.

But even with some Protestants in England, this didn't sit well with them. There was a sect called the Puritans, and they believed that the Church of England had too many Catholic remnants so they left for freedom and went to what is now the United States. Although Queen Elizabeth I was pressured to marry, she never did. This was probably because of the stories she heard about her mother's execution and her half-sister's mother's annulment from her father. In addition, Queen Elizabeth I probably never married because she knew that if she did, she could jeopardize her political power and this is something she didn't want to do, so it may have been better to remain single. There have been suitors from her own country, France and Spain but she turned them all down.

One major conflict for Queen Elizabeth I was with her Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who was the queen of Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots married Henry Stuart, who was the son of Margaret Tudor and Queen Elizabeth's father's sister. After Henry's death, Mary Queen of Scots married Lord Darnley and they had an unhappy marriage. He was later found dead and when she was suspected of his murder, she had to give up her throne to her young son, James. Mary Queen of Scots then sought asylum in England but when Queen Elizabeth I found out that Mary conspired with some English Catholics to overthrow her, Queen Elizabeth I had Mary imprisoned and executed for treason.

Also under Queen Elizabeth I's monarch rule, Ireland became part of England, and she defeated Spain when they attempted to invade England as a way of reclaiming it as a Catholic nation. Queen Elizabeth died in 1603.

There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Queen Elizabeth I biography outlined above there is a dirty little secret that has been kept hidden for centuries. And that secret is that Queen Elizabeth I once had minor surgery to remove a mole that had a striking resemblance to the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.


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