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Queen Elizabeth

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All the witches, wizards, astrologers, soothsayers and physicians in the kingdom assured the couple that they would indeed have a son. This is just what the father wanted to hear. Having a son was not just his desire; it was his obsession. No one close to the couple dared to think the baby could be anything but a boy. And so the father prepared for the delivery like one would prepare for a royal ball. The finest bed was brought in, parties were thrown and days were counted until the joyful event. Names were chosen: Edward or Henry. And finally the day came. The laboring mother-to-be was ushered into her private chamber, she prayed to her God that He would give her a son, and a few hours later the cries of a newborn child were heard. But to the disappointment of all, the child was a girl. The mother was distraught. The father was outraged. And those in the kingdom who hated the father, rejoiced. And so began the life of the future first Queen of England, Elizabeth Tudor. Born in a time of social and spiritual upheaval, Queen Elizabeth's life was significantly affected politically, romantically, and morally by the relationships she would have with her father the King, the young Lord Essex, and Robert Dudley.

Long before the royal birth that was considered to be the most grievous disappointment in England's history, there were multiple complications (Plowden 39). Henry had married his first wife by the granting of a papal dispensation. Only this ruling from the Pope had allowed this marriage, for Catherine had been his brother's wife before his premature death. Now married to Catherine for over 20 years, Henry came to the realization that the chances of having a son by her were slim. Out of several births, only one daughter, Princess Mary, had survived. King Henry now sought a divorce; he desperately needed a son to rule his kingdom. To put the kingdom in the hands of a son-in-law was dangerous. But unfortunately, the Pope refused to make a decision on this issue. For seven long years, he found one reason after another to postpone the ruling (Ridley 20). He had his motives. First, he did not want to offend Catherine's nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Charles was the ruler of Spain, the Netherlands, and large parts of Italy and Germany, and he was angry at Henry for renouncing their alliance and joining forces with his enemy, King Frances I of France. The Pope dared not risk offending this great power by granting a favor to the King of England. But second, the Pope did want to offend King Henry, either. Two kings were telling him to do two different things, and now this tug of war was at a height of tension (20).

The King had been fairly patient during the Pope's long decision making process, but upon finding out that his mistress Anne Boleyn, whom he had openly lived with for several years, was pregnant, he knew it was imperative to take care of the situation immediately. Henry married Anne very secretly at the end of January 1533, and in April told Parliament to pass an act which would abolish the "right of appeal" from the courts in England to the Roman papal courts. This would mean that the papal dispensation was annulled, and King Henry's marriage to Catherine would be considered "void" by the divine law. He was now free to make Anne the new lawful Queen of England, and introduce her to the kingdom. And introduce her he did, with a lavish coronation. Nothing could be seen for four miles but beautifully decorated boats and barges, and nothing could be heard over the sounds of thousands of artillery celebrating the new queen (Ridley 21).

The celebrations continued until Elizabeth's birth on the 7th day of September in 1533, and then he became somber and quieter, especially towards Anne. It was Anne, after all, that had failed to give him a son. Within three years, King Henry would order her execution by beheading, leaving the very young Elizabeth, like Mary, without a mother and in the middle of a royal scandal (Plowden 56). Elizabeth, however, found favor in her father's eyes, and he was a fairly good father, lavishing attention and affection on her. The dark side of his nature, however, did not escape her observation. She grew up knowing the true personality and motives of her father, and this had a profound affect on her developing character.

First, she saw his political strategies being played out on a regular basis. Henry displayed outward signs of religion, but his political strategies showed his true heart. He changed his religious policies to suit his political needs, burned protestant heretics, and had Catholic abbots hanged, drawn and quartered. All this was done to "advance the interest of his diplomacy, to fulfill his treasury, or even to satisfy his personal pleasure" (Ridley 33). Perhaps that is why Elizabeth grew up with mercy towards people, and with a conscience, unlike her father. When Elizabeth's heir-to-the-throne half brother died unexpectantly from consumption and she became Queen of England at age 24 in 1558, she was quite the opposite of her father. She made great personal and political sacrifices in order to do duty to both God and her people (33).

Second, her father's influence in her life affected how she viewed romance and love. King Henry had had 6 wives by the time Elizabeth was 14 years old. Two of these wives, one being her mother, had been beheaded by order of her father, and two he divorced. Elizabeth had never witnessed a blessed marriage where husband and wife commit fully to one another until death. Although she was only 2Ð'Ð... years old when her mother was beheaded and probably didn't remember much about the event, she soon experienced the nightmare again with her stepmother, Katherine Howard, her father's fifth wife. Elizabeth had grown quite close to her young and enchanting stepmother, but Katherine was convicted of adultery by the courts and her husband the king, and sentenced to beheading. After her death, her head and headless body were wrapped in a sheet, carried into the chapel on Tower Green, and then buried under the flags where Elizabeth's mother was already buried. Elizabeth was only eight, but uttered these words to her childhood friend, Robert Dudley: "I will never marry" (Jenkins 10). Robert Dudley would later become one of Queen Elizabeth's many suitors and a major influence in her life.

King Henry VIII also forbade his daughter, and Prince Edward as well, to read romances of any kind. Instead, he insisted that she read classical mythology, commentaries on the Greek New Testament, Plato's Republic, classics such as More's Utopia, and history books. Books, however, could only be read if they had a "moral" (Williams 10). Even after Henry's death, his influence on her romantic life still persisted, although not



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