Tudor Queens


Queen Mary 1st

Mary was 37 when she came to the throne having ousted Lady Jane with the popular support of the people. Her nickname was Bloody Mary because of the huge numbers of people she murdered to return England from its Protestant regime back to the Catholic faith. Women were not considered suitable to rule in these times and the Spanish ambassador to London under instructions from her cousin Charles 5th the then Holy Roman Emperor, advised her to marry the then most powerful king in Europe, his son, Philip 2nd of Spain.

Mary was desperate for a son but at her age it was not surprising that she never became pregnant. English Parliament never allowed Philip to call himself King of England as the thought of little but proud England becoming part of Spain was something to be avoided at all costs. 

Fortunately for England Mary died after only 6 years on the throne still having time to murder hundreds of innocent Protestants and others who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was succeeded by her attractive and very popular younger sister Elizabeth.

Mary’s life in Chronological order.

1516 Mary was born in Greenwich London the first child of Henry 8th and the only child who lived mothered by Spanish princess and devout Catholic, Katherine of Aragon.

1533 At 17 Mary’s world suddenly falls apart. She finds that her beloved mother the Spanish Catholic Katherine is divorced by her father and banished to a cold damp disused castle in the remote countryside and Mary is not allowed to visit her. Her new stepmother Anne Boleyn is only 32 and Henry looses interest in his daughter who does not now live at court and dotes on his new baby girl Elizabeth. Mary grows to hate Elizabeth. To cap it all Mary is declared illegitimate on the grounds that her father and mother were never married as the Catholic Church rules that a man cannot marry his brothers widow. She looses her right to the throne and her title is no longer princess just simple Lady Mary.

1536 Mary is not sorry when her father murders her step mother Anne.

1537 Mary has a new step mother and a new brother Edward.

1540 Mary’s father produces her 4th step mother the illiterate but sexy Katherine Howard aged about 15. Mary is now 24. Katherine Howard allegedly sleeps around and is soon beheaded.

1543 Mary meets her 5th step mother Katherine Parr who successfully reunites her with her father, sister and brother.

1547 Mary is 31 and her father dies to be succeeded by her step brother the 9 year old devout Protestant, Edward fully supported by a Protestant Uncle and a Protestant Archbishop Thomas Cramner. Mary stubbornly remains a staunch Catholic.

1553 Edward dies and is succeeded by the Protestant friend of both Edward and sister Elizabeth, the 15 year old Lady Jane Grey who is already married to Gilford Dudley. Elizabeth is 20.

Mary lies low in her huge royal estates in Norfolk where the arch schemer and father of Gilford Dudley, the Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland with a huge army march to capture her. Fortunately for Mary Northumberland’s followers desert him and Mary can herself march south to London where she is greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.

Mary’s first action is to put Gilford Dudley and Jane Grey in the Tower along with father Northumberland who is immediately hung drawn and quartered for treason.

Mary is crowned in Westminster Abbey on the 1st October 1553.

Mary then sets to restore the Catholic faith throughout England with the able support of  Cardinal Reginald Pole as the Popes Special Envoy. This is the start of her bloody campaign of ruthless murders of Bishops and Archbishops, Earls and Dukes and innocent bystanders including women and young children. Her cruelty shows no bounds. The people of England will not forget this killing in the name of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.  

1554 Mary now 38 and a virgin, on the advice of her cousin and Holy Roman Emperor Charles 5th, marries his powerful Catholic son, Philip of Spain a widower and 11 years her junior. Mary is besotted by young Philip who does his duty by sleeping with her but is actually more interested in Elizabeth and one or two other ladies around the court.

The concept of Mary marrying the most powerful Catholic prince in the world caused a major uprising under Sir Thomas Wyatt of Kent who attacked London. Mary saved the day by promising not to marry Philip without the consent of Parliament. Wyatt is locked in the Tower along with Mary’s sister Princess Elizabeth who Mary does not trust. Mary then beheads Wyatt along with Lady Jane Grey and her young husband Gifford Dudley. 100 or so suspicious looking commoners are publicly hung to ensure the message is clear that Protestantism is out and Catholicism is back.

Unsurprisingly Philip who is not allowed to call himself King of England leaves the country for sunny Spain.

1555/6 Under Mary’s Bishop of London, Stephen Gardiner, Mary commenced her ruthless killings of all the top Protestant Bishops. Those who did not agree with the Popes supremacy and the concept of Transubstantiation were burnt at the stake.

Transubstantiation is the process which allegedly takes place during Catholic Mass when the bread and wine offered to the congregation morphs into the body and blood of Jesus when everybody can see that it doesn’t. Top Bishops murdered in this manner included Cramner, Ridley and Latimer at Oxford and Rogers in London and Hooper in Gloucester in all 280 devout new Protestant Christians.

1557 Quite soon after Mary’s marriage to Philip she declares she is pregnant but although her stomach swells, after some 12 months no baby appears. Many historians feel she must have had an ovarian cyst.  Philip, now also King of Spain, returns to England and persuades Mary to attack France with a joint Anglo Spanish force. France has no chance against such odds but get their own back by capturing England’s last held territory in France the town port of Calais. This town which has been in English hands for hundreds of years is never retrieved.

1558 Mary dies in November in St James Palace London aged 42 and is immediately succeeded her younger sister the 25 year old and popular, religiously open minded but Protestant leaning Elizabeth. 


Elizabeth 1st 1558-1603 (Born 1533 at Greenwich Palace 5 miles east of the city of London); Father Henry 8th; Mother Henry’s 2nd wife, the English beauty Anne Boleyn. Remember Henry had just divorced the Spanish Catholic princess, Catherine of Aragon.

Elizabeth was 25 when crowned Queen and had suffered a desperate childhood as her close relations were murdered including her own mother and step mother. She had many enemies particularly Catholics at home and from all over Europe as she her self was a Protestant. Hence when both a young princess and a Queen powerful people were plotting her execution in the name of God. This atmosphere could have ruined a lesser person but for Elizabeth it made her perhaps the best monarch England has ever had.  Was it because she was a woman and had to choose capable men to perform many of the physically demanding tasks. If they did not perform she could simply fire them.

At the start of her reign, England was a bankrupt insignificant country in Europe in religious turmoil. After her leadership of 45 years she had created a proud, economically sound nation with a new all embracing religion largely created by herself. She also encouraged an army of entrepreneurs in making hugely significant  territorial gains in Ireland, America and India.

Her most significant achievement was in the religious field. Her father had taken England away from the authority of the then corrupt, dogmatic Catholic Roman Church. Her younger brother as King Edward 6th  that the priest should be the sole interpreter of rules and morals. This introduced the concept of the individual thinking for himself for the first time in 100s of years. Elizabeth’s elder sister Mary as Queen of England, had with terrible and bloodthirsty ferociousness forced England back under the power and dogma of Rome. Elizabeth as a Protestant intellectual had to calm the religious storm and create a compromise which she could sell to both sides which retained the fundamental reforms of Luther. The result was the Church of England. had adopted the new Protestant (Lutheran) religion developed in Germany and Switzerland which promoted the concept of the individual making his own mind up about the rules of life by reading the scriptures in the vernacular (English) rather than the Latin of the Roman Catholics who under the Popeinsisted

This freedom of thought and her willingness to promote entrepreneurs created the country which was eventually to dominate the world and with the human rights which is the envy of the world.

Elizabeth’s long life of 70 years can be divided into 5 parts

  • Part 1 0-12 years. 
    Her early life in the latter years of her father Henry 8th. Elizabeth lived mainly at Hatfield House where she was latterly jointly educated with her younger brother Edward 4 years her junior. At 6 she spoke with the confidence of a woman of 40 and could speak 5 languages. Later she lived close to her father and could observed and learn from his unsuccessful militarily campaigns in France.
  • Part 2 12-20 years.
    During the reign of her Protestant brother King Edward
  • Part 3 20-25 years.
    During the reign of her Catholic sister Mary when Elizabeth as a Protestant was thrown into the Tower and accused of plotting to overthrow Mary.
    From this time onwards Elizabeth lived under the constant threat of one or another Catholic fanatic destined to murder her.
  • Part 4 25-40 years.
    Her early years as Queen when she created her compromise Protestant faith and realised that Catholics at home and all over Europe wanted her killed. The role of her Scottish Catholic Cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. Her early support for her male favourites and entrepreneurs in the field of making money from Slave Trading and Pirating of the ships belonging to the Spanish Catholics.
  • Part 5 40-70 years.
    30 years of success in war and colonisation using her adoring male buccaneers against the mighty Spain culminating in victory over the Spanish Armada; her bloody conquests in Ireland and footholds in North America and India.

Elizabeth, a detailed chronological summary.

Part 1

Elizabeth’s life under the reign of her father King Henry 8th.

1533 Elizabeth born at Greenwich London. Father Henry 8th and mother, his second wife the pretty and vivacious English girl Anne Boleyn.  Mary, her only sister by Henry’s first wife Spanish Catherine of Aragon, was already 21. Ex Queen Catherine was kept under house arrest in a remote English Castle deep in the country.

1535 Henry fell in love with another English girl Jane Seymour so he had Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn murdered by beheading at the Tower of London, Elizabeth was two and half.

1537 Jane Seymour gave birth to the required son and heir, Edward but Queen Jane died soon after the birth of her child.

His cousin, Jane Grey was also born.

1540 Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s main advisor is fired for organising a marriage to the ugly Anne of Cleves. Henry sets up a Privy Council, a group of trusted men to help him run the country. This met daily throughout the year. Elizabeth aged 7 learns how to run a country with a small team of top advisors.

1542 Mary Queen of Scots was born the great great granddaughter of English King Henry 7th and daughter of Catholic King James 5th of Scotland and therefore the second Catholic in line to the English Throne after Mary.

1544 Elizabeth, now 11, was her fathers favourite and he established her at his court when he was preparing for war with France. He captured Boulogne at huge expense but in retaliation the French fleet tried but failed to land on the Isle of Weight. Elizabeth hero worshiped her father and she was present when the Admiral of France negotiated a peace settlement in London.

Elizabeth is now aged 11 and her father Henry has his 6th wife, Catherine Parr.

Elizabeth now lived in St James’ Palace (built by Henry 8th and then called St James’ House). She commenced correspondence to Henry’s new Queen, his 6th wife, Catherine Parr. She wrote in Italian her latest language (her fifth). It was customary then to write in a foreign language to demonstrate how well educated you were. The Queen needed a translator.

Also in 1544 Edward aged 7 was transferred from female to male teachers.

In 1544 when Elizabeth was 11 she could observe at close quarters  a woman (Catherine Parr) running the country when the King was away at war (France and Scotland) through a selection of men who reported to her in the Privy Council dealing with issues like war, religious strife and plague.

In Religion Catherine Parr was her guide insofar as Catherine had daily services and lessons from religious scholars including Archbishop Cramner debating Lutherism and Catholicasism and Elizabeth generally joined in. Letters from Elizabeth aged 11 to Catherine could have been written by a today’s theological undergraduate.

1544 Elizabeth is now 12 and has a new Tutor, William Grindall and to demonstrate her abilities Elizabeth writes a book as a present to her father Henry. It is her own translation of a book written by Catherine Parr called Prayers and Meditations into three languages, French, Latin and Italian!

Part 2

1545 Henry dies in January and Elizabeth’s young brother Edward aged 10 (Elizabeth is13) is crowned King by Archbishop Thomas Cramner. Being a minor Edward’s uncle, Edward Seymour assumes the role of Protector and his other uncle Thomas Seymour is the Lord Admiral. The Seymours had never liked the Boleyns so Elizabeth prudently goes to live with Catherine Parr in her house in Chelsea where she is soon joined by her cousin, Lady Jane Grey.

1548 The Seymour Affair. Thomas Seymour is one of the best looking men of the time, is ambitious and has a scheming mind. He marries Elizabeth’s widowed step mother and guardian Catherine Parr and therefore immediately becomes Elizabeth’s step father. Catherine becomes pregnant and sexually less attractive to Thomas who commences fun and games with the attractive and vivacious royal teenager of 15 who sleeps in the adjacent bedroom. Catherine seems to condone the visits Thomas makes to Elizabeth’s bed room where they romp, both in their night clothes. Catherine also holds Elizabeth down when Thomas takes a knife and slowly cuts away Elizabeth’s clothes. Elizabeth seems to like all this tomfoolery but eventually Catherine gets jealous and Elizabeth is sent away to live with the Denny’s at Cheshunt. Catherine produced  a baby girl but the mother almost immediately died leaving all her wealth to Thomas Seymour. Thomas took advantage of his wife’s death to not only make a claim to marry Elizabeth but also to replace his brother Edward as Lord Protector. The later was seen as treason and Thomas is beheaded on the spot. Elizabeth was questioned as to her complicity as she was clearly in love with Seymour. She survived only by virtue of her sharpness of wit.

1549 Elizabeth is now permitted to set up house on her own and she chooses Hatfield  to accommodate her “Court” of about 140 persons. The whole purpose of this Court was to further educate this already accomplished student and Hatfield House was connected to St Johns College Cambridge for this purpose, where resides her new senior Tutor, the finest scholar of the time in all Europe, Roger Ascham.

1550 The Seymore affaire concludes with the demise of Edward the Lord Protector and Earl of Somerset and the rise of John Dudley the Earl of Warwick who takes his place and hence not only effectively runs Edward and the country but Elizabeth’s affairs also.

1552 Elizabeth is now 19, Mary 36 and Edward is 15. The country is run by John Dudley who is now both Earl of Warwick and Northumberland. The King, Edward, is a confident teenager and a keen supporter of the new Protestant faith. Elizabeth an extremely attractive, highly educated and confident woman and is as devoted to the new faith as her brother. They are both friends. Mary is different. She is as devoted to the old Papal Roman Catholicism as the others are to free thinking Protestantism. She also still feels aggrieved by the way her mother was divorced and forced to live virtually in prison in an old damp and cold castle. She also feels more connected to her powerful Spanish royal roots and her nephew, the even more powerful Emperor, Charles 5th (Holy Roman Emperor) than the English Royal family. When Mary is forbidden to hold a private Mass (The fundamental Catholic service of worship)  she sends a message of help to Charles 5th who controlled much of Austria, Hungary, Czech, Slovakia, Belgium, Holland and Italy south of Rome and with his son, Spain. Charles the effective military guardian of the Catholic faith, threatens war if Mary has to follow the Protestant faith. The English back down, Mary gets her way but the scene is set for a religious war with the weight of European military power stacked up against England, Edward and Elizabeth. Fortunately for England the aggressive Ottoman Islamic armies in Hungary are uppermost in Charles’ mind.

Part 3

1553 The young King dies. Early in the spring Edward gets consumption (now called Tuberculosis) for which (until 1950) there was no cure and he commences to plan his succession under the watchful eye of the Lord Protector Robert Dudley. The new ruler has to be Protestant and Mary is a devout Catholic so they plot to get rid of her. Elizabeth is Protestant but they feel she would never agree to the murder of her sister so she must go too. Edward and Robert Dudley persuade the Privy Council that neither Mary or Elizabeth can be Queen because they are both illegitimate and also that only men can rule. Unfortunately there were no legitimate Tudor male descendents so they invent the concept that a woman can become Queen but only for the purpose of producing a male heir. Elizabeth’s cousin Jane Grey is their nearest Tudor and she is quickly married to Robert Dudley’s son Guilford. Lady Jane is hurried to the Tower to protect her from any objectors.

Elizabeth in the mean time is watching events from Hatfield House Hertfordshire and Mary from her country house near Chelmsford in Essex who as the rightful heir finds herself supported by a huge, largely Catholic, following from her estates in East Anglia. The support for Lady Jane Grey led by Robert Dudley disintegrates and Mary is declared Queen. Elizabeth not wishing to be left out, rides to London to congratulate Mary at the head of her small private army of 2000 mounted supporters with spears, bows and guns.  She actually beats Mary to London as Mary has remained at New Hall Essex while any traitors are rounded up. Elizabeth with her army now reduced to 1000 men rides out into Essex to meet her and they return to London together in their full royal regalia cheered in by their adoring crowds.

“Queen” Jane Grey along with her husband Guilford Dudley are put under “house arrest” in the Tower as innocents but Robert Dudley is executed for treason.

Elizabeth remains part of Mary’s Court for some 6 months but Mary who commences returning England to a Roman Catholic Country under authority of the Pope also tries to persuade Elizabeth to change her faith. It does not work and Elizabeth is forced to leave Court by the growing animosity of Mary and returns to the solitude of Ashridge House where she spends Christmas 1553

1554 Elizabeth is now 20, out of harms way deep in the Forest of Ashridge, enabling her to study the merits of the two Christian faiths and watch her sister’s determination to get married. Mary asks for advice from her cousin Charles, the most powerful man in Europe and as Holy Roman Emperor, protector of the Roman Catholic faith. She is also advised by her council who recommend an English catholic suitor, Edward Courtenay, whose father was a cousin and playmate of Henry 8th. Mary whose heart has always been more in Europe than England ignores her English Council and on the advice of Charles 5th  chooses his son, a reluctant Prince Philip, ruler of Spain. The people of England are horrified.

The Wyatt Revolt. (Thomas Wyatt a Kentish land owner, poet and probably a lover of Anne Boleyn, which obviously made him a supporter of Elizabeth)

The conspirators were; Sir Thomas Wyatt of Kent, Jane Grey’s father the Duke of Suffolk, the Carew’s in the south west and Sir James Croft of the Welsh Marches;

All were Protestants and supporters of a free England and did not like the idea of England becoming a colony of either Spain or of the Hapsburg dynasty (Charles 5th was head of the Hapsburgs). They planned to dethrone Mary and make her sister Elizabeth, queen supported in marriage by Edward Courtenay. Unfortunately news of this plan is leaked and Mary prepares for battle which deters all the rebels except Thomas Wyatt. He attacks London from the east and finds London Bridge closed, so he dashes round to the west and attacks again. Many of Mary’s Whitehall guard join him but the City of London is still impregnable and without an insider to open the gates Wyatt is domed to fail. The leaders are rounded up and slapped in the Tower. Those immediately executed included poor Lady Jane Grey who certainly had nothing to do with it. She was only 17. But what does the future hold for the 20 year old Elizabeth who after all was to replace Mary in this bloody coup?

Elizabeth held for treason in the Tower.

Mary was suspicious of Elizabeth’s involvement in the coup and sent a troop to Ashridge to escort her to house arrest in the Queens Palace of Whitehall. (This was the current main palace for English Monarchs and was at the time the largest building in Europe.) In the mean time she gathered evidence for Elizabeth’s trial for treason. There were plenty of letters written by the conspirators to Elizabeth at Ashridge advising her to move to safer quarters and on this basis Mary ordered Elizabeth into the dreaded Tower of London were she joined the other conspirators who were awaiting trial. However she was released after Wyatt’s testimonial that she was innocent but put under house arrest at Woodstock. This was just 10 miles west of Oxford where Mary had put Archbishop Cramner in prison awaiting trial for Heresy.

When Elizabeth was being escorted from the Tower to Woodstock, Mary was setting out to Winchester to meet her fiancé Philip. Mary tried to make everybody aware that Philip’s linage to the English royal family was at least as strong as Mary’s both being descendents of John of Gaunt, but neither of the pair were ever truly accepted as the rightful English heirs, both were seen as Spanish Catholic interlopers.

Elizabeth under house arrest at Woodstock.

Mary was acutely aware that Elizabeth was the more popular sister and so her imprisonment was not too onerous. Her jailor was uneducated and frightened of her and Elizabeth was allowed almost 100 members of her own household to care for her. Letters which were strictly forbidden were smuggled in and she was made aware of the cruelty her sister was inflicting on Elizabeth’s Protestant friends, including murder by burning alive while tied to a stake. 

Still 1554- Mary pregnant

1555 April, Elizabeth was invited to Hampton Court to share in the birthing celebrations. Unfortunately Mary although looking fat as though with child was not pregnant and 4 months after the due date her supporters and notably her husband Philip gave up. Indeed Philip was noted to have taken a shine for Elizabeth which might well have been true as Elizabeth was young, vivacious, sexy and pretty while Mary was 38 years old and fat. Philip eventually returned to Europe where his father the Holy Roman Emperor, head of the Hapsburg dynasty and master of half of Europe had abdicated splitting his empire between Philip who took Holland, Belgium, Spain and the New World colonies and his brother Ferdinand who had Austrian and the Holy Roman Empire.

Mary, after the departure of Philip concentrated on returning England to the Catholic faith which involved a programme of mass murder by public burning at the stake and returning of much land to the church. The owners of old, church land in Parliament and elsewhere obviously objected and once again a scheme was devised to topple Mary and put Elizabeth now 22 on the throne.

Dudley’s Revolt 1555

Three MPs, Henry Dudley, Sir Anthony Kingston and Christopher Ashton were motivated by the horror of loosing the lands they had acquired when Henry 8th took over and distributed the monasterial assets to his friends, and Mary sort parliamentary approval for giving them back. Their plan was simply to march on London with their many like minded friends, exile Mary to one of her many friends and relations in Europe and place Elizabeth on the throne having first married her to Edward Courtney the Earl of Devon, a very suitable Englishman.

The conspirators although rich, needed more money and a bigger army and Ashton travelled  to France to get it where one of his contacts was unfortunately a double agent and Mary was made aware of  the plot. When all the traitors were safely in the Tower, Mary wrote to her husband Philip in Belgium about what to do with Elizabeth. The reply was clear, Elizabeth is innocent and had been duped and should be pardoned. Why? Firstly Philip fancied the attractive Elizabeth and his only real interest was to entice England into the Hapsburg dynasty. If Elizabeth was beheaded the next in line was Mary Queen of Scots who was scheduled to be married  to the next King of France, the sworn enemy of the Hapsburgs.

So Elizabeth was saved and Mary’s programme of killing the Protestant hierarchy continued unabated with the burning at the stake of Archbishop Thomas Cramner the co-founder of Church of England.

1556 Elizabeth under house arrest again.

Elizabeth was invited to court for Christmas 1556 and she arrived with 200 riders all in her livery. An impressive site and the Londoners loved it as their favourite royal rode in style to her own Somerset House. Again Elizabeth’s celebrations went pear shaped when she realised Mary, under the influence of the Hapsburgs, was intending to marry her off to a French/Savoy Prince Emmanuel Philibert a cousin and close friend of Philip.  Elizabeth realised she was being used as a political pawn by the Hapsburg family. She was being given the promise of the future English throne so long as she married a Hapsburg plant which would give the Hapsburgs control of all England. What was the alternative? Death? Elizabeth retreated in haste back to the relative safety of Hatfield.

1558 Mary was now very fat and 42 and Elizabeth a glamorous 25. Mary was ill, certainly she had caught the flu which was a virulent pandemic variety which on top of her longer term troubles with her stomach, perhaps cancer, made her realise she would not live for many more months. Her cruelty however did not wane and her murders, already over 200, continued for the most trivial reasons and included innocent children as well as those of the modern Protestant faith. Those who were not burnt alive while tied to a stake were simply smothered under piles of farmyard manure. On November the 6th she wrote to Elizabeth acknowledging her right to the throne but could not bring herself to address the letter personally to Elizabeth.

In the meantime Elizabeth, expecting the worst, had moved from Hatfield house to the small fortress just up the road of Brocket Hall and had been inundated with pledges of allegiance from the powerful Protestant gentry who saw Elizabeth as their true English royal leader of a mind not to be manipulated by either the Pope, the Catholic Spanish or the Hapsburgs. Philip made one last move to make Elizabeth favour the Catholics, he sent his special envoy, the Spaniard Count of Feria to explain that without his support she would never be queen. Elizabeth surrounded by a well prepared Protestant army was furious and he went away empty handed. Mary died a few days later on 17th November 1558 and curiously a few hours later her head of the English Catholic church and the ruthless implementer of Mary’s religious persecutions, Cardinal Pole, died also.

Part 4

1558 Elizabeth became Queen and held her first council meeting in Hatfield the day after the death of her sister. What was the England she had inherited from Mary?

  • A bankrupt nation with high inflation and a weak currency.
  • Frightened people, polarised between two religions, the Roman Catholics who were dominated and were fearful of their priests and the new Protestants who advocated that all should read the scriptures and make their own mind up on the interpretation.
  • A small country dominated by rich European catholic nations like Spain and the Holy Roman (Catholic) Empire centred in Austria.

40 years later she ruled over the most successful military machine in Europe, with a strong currency and economy and with significant new colonial staging posts in America and India. These together with a proud country, largely at peace with its self because of the new Elizabethan religion which allowed all but the most extreme Catholics and Protestants to join.

Elizabeth’s first council meeting was held at Hatfield on 18th November and she had already chosen the team which would advise her during the first few years of her rule.

Mary had a council of 50 and Elizabeth reduced the number to 19 getting rid of many but not all of the Catholic stalwarts. Many of them had served under previous  Tudor monarchs commencing with Henry 8th.

The top five were;

  • Sir William Cecil, Elizabeth’s chief advisor throughout her reign from his position of Secretary of State. He eventually became Lord Burghley.
  • Thomas Parry the strong man on the council who had been close to Elizabeth since her birth.
  • Nicolas Bacon as Chancellor, Cecil’s friend and brother in law. As a Protestant Elizabeth made him head of the House of Lords where all the bishops were Catholics.
  • William Herbert, the Welsh Earl of Pembroke, her Military chief who Elizabeth only appointed because he was so powerful. He however soon became a trusted and loyal servant.
  • Elizabeth also appointed her first Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker a married Protestant who had converted from Catholicotism at Cambridge.

Elizabeth stayed in Hatfield until the 23rd when she left for London via Barnet with an escort of 1000 men. Elizabeth rode on horseback dressed in purple velvet, via the Tower and then to Somerset House.

23rd December; Elizabeth moves into Whitehall Palace the main palace in England and the largest in Europe at the time. Whitehall is a few 100 yards from Westminster.

1559, 15th January, Elizabeth’s  Coronation day.

Elizabeth’s first tasks:

  • Set the budget (eg the taxes)
  • Commence negotiating with the bishops on changing the religion of England from Catholic to Protestant, that is the version of Protestantism that Elizabeth favoured.  The trouble was the House of Lords was full of Catholic Bishops.

The opposition to religious change amongst the establishment was formidable.

In a manner ahead of her time, Elizabeth set up a sub-committee of equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants to debate the form for the new religion but the only way she could finally get her way was to detain two of the Catholic Bishops in the Tower until voting was complete.

Elizabeth’s religion was a middle road between traditional Papal Catholicism and the extreme Puritan Protestants who were against much of the emotion in church, for example as was created by singing.

The existing bishops who were all Catholic had first to sign up to the “Act of Supremacy” that is the concept that the Monarch was head of the English Church rather than the Pope.  The Lords argued how could a woman be head of the Church when St Paul would not allow any woman to speak in church.

They all refused and had to be replaced en-mass.

Elizabeth’s Penalties for nonconformity.

Elizabeth’s sister Mary had used the age old and barbaric penalties for Heresy burning at the stake and for Treason, hanging drawing and quartering both which were also used by Henry 8th. Elizabeth vowed never to use such barbaric punishments. She however set up a team of religious auditors under Archbishop Matthew Parker (called Nosy Parker) who toured churches to ensure that Elizabethan services were followed.

Correct bibles and prayer books in English not Latin, communion bread and wine seen as symbolic rather than actually miraculously turning into the blood and flesh of Jesus and less ornate clothes to be used by priests. And from the extreme Puritan Protestant side any absence of an alter or no singing were reported back to base for correction. While Mary had burnt anybody who refused to conform to her religious views, Elizabeth had tried to persuade but it was a difficult road and many Bishops and clergy ended up in the Tower. After a few months she allowed these pious men to swap their incarceration in the Tower for house arrest under Protestant bishops. Generally all the Nobles were staunch Catholic and Elizabeth never tried to force conversion. Rather she let sleeping dogs lie for a generation when their sons and daughters would do the opposite, as they do, and eagerly adopt the new Elizabethan religion.

Elizabethan currency

One of the big differences between Catholics and Protestants was the excesses of ornate gold and silver crosses, chalices and other icons used by the Catholics and abhorred as idolatrous by Puritans. Elizabeth melted down the bulk of the beautiful religious ornaments like chalices and crosses made of gold and silver and turned them into a new English currency which stemmed the rampant inflation she had inherited from Mary.

Elizabeth having stemmed inflation now need to replenish the countries finances. This was partly achieved with taxes and increased overseas trade, still mainly wool however;

Elizabeth was persuaded by some of her rich male admirers to join them in some other rather dubious businesses for making money:

The Elizabethan Slave Trade.

1560; John Hawkins from Plymouth Devon, some 18 months after her coronation sets up a consortium of rich merchants plus Elizabeth to invest in the Slave Trade, that is buying native black men from tropical West Africa to sell to the Portuguese sugar farms in tropical South America where white Europeans quickly die of heat exhaustion.  

In 1562 Hawkins makes his first entry into the market by hijacking a Portuguese slave ship which Hawkins sells to the Spanish. This demonstrates to Hawkins that hijacking is a profitable route into the markets already dominated by the Spanish and Portuguese.

1567, During a slaving expedition organised by Hawkins and supported by his younger cousin and fellow Devonian, Francis Drake the Spanish hijack the English convoy and murder many  English sailors. Unfortunately they make the mistake of seizing a ship belonging to Elizabeth and from this date Spain and England are effectively at war.

In 1569 Elizabeth made Hawkins an official Pirate renamed a “Privateer” which allowed Elizabeth to openly invest and make considerable money out of Slaving and Hijacking Spanish bullion ships. EnglandElizabeth starts to get rich. under

Elizabeth’s marriage.

Everybody thought Elizabeth should marry but nobody agreed who it should be as the disastrous marriage of Mary and Philip was still in everyone’s minds. Many men fell in love with her and had close physical relationships but although many thought she had sex with more than one of her admirers this was never proved. Men came and went alone from her private quarters from when Elizabeth was 14 to when she was 40. Some were foreign princes but the Mary saga put both Elizabeth and her advisors off  foreigners. Not surprisingly the ideal Englishman could not be found by either Elizabeth herself of her council. How could any man who was supposed to be superior sit comfortably with such an intellectual and dynamic Queen.  

The serious men in her love life were: Lord Thomas Seymour of Sudeley, Lord Robert Dudley, the Duke of Anjou (son of French King Henry 2nd and Catherine de Medici) and even Philip of Spain offered his hand but all were rejected by Elizabeth.

1568; 10 Years into Elizabeth’s reign during which she had managed to keep the peace between the Roman Catholic extremists and the Protestant fundamentalists (Puritans), three disasters occurred.

  • The Pope stated publicly that Elizabeth as a bastard and could not be considered the rightful ruler of England. Thus anybody who attacked England would do so with the Popes blessing and that meant it was easier to raise an army and they would fight like religious fanatics.
  • There was a Protestant uprising across the waters in Flanders (which was ruled by Catholic Spain) and an army of 50,000 Catholic soldiers set sail from Spain to Flanders to quell the uprising.
  • and Elizabeth’s cousin who many saw as the legitimate heir to the English throne, the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots (or Mary Stuart), fled from Scotland to England where she asked cousin Elizabeth for protection.

English Catholics hoped that the Spanish Catholic armies in Flanders would invade England and execute Elizabeth and would then put Catholic Mary Stuart on the English throne.

The initial result was somewhat different as Catholic forces forced both the Flanders Protestants and the French Protestants (Huguenots) to seek refuge in Protestant England under Elizabeth now seen as the leader of European Protestantism, bringing with them their skills of woollen cloth manufacture. This eventually made England not only the source of the best European wool but also some of the best woollen garments. England gets richer.

However the dye is now cast for the Spanish Catholics as the richest nation in Europe with the largest overseas colonies covering the Caribbean, Mexico and Peru to eliminate Elizabeth and England as a growing thorn in their side.

At the same time that Elizabeth was looking nervously at the build up of Spanish forces across the English Channel. The West Country sailors Drake and Hawkins were also continuing to attack and plunder the Spanish ships coming through the Caribbean laden with Mexican and Peruvian  silver and gold.

Part 5

Mary Queen of Scots, Drake, the Armada, Exploration, Irish Land grabbing. Two new Archbishops.

Recapping important time line events for the whole of Elizabeth’s reign to 1568.

1533 Elizabeth in born and is to be brought up in the new Protestant faith.

1540 The Catholic Spanish conquer and occupy Cuba, Mexico and Peru and start shipping silver back to Spain making them the richest and most powerful country in Europe.

1542 Mary Stuart, Elizabeth’s cousin is born a Catholic and made Queen of Scotland. Both are direct descendents of Henry 7th.

1558 Thousands die in England following a flu epidemic and famine because of terrible weather and a poor harvest.  Queen Mary, Elizabeth’s elder dies.

1558 Elizabeth is made Queen in a peaceful exchange after the death of Mary. England rejoices. She is Queen of England, Wales and Ireland but not Scotland. English rule in Ireland is effectively only around Dublin.

1559 Elizabeth rejects offer of marriage from Philip, Catholic King of Spain and son of the Holy Roman Emperor. 1st Rebellion against English expansion in Ireland. (The Desmond Rebellion)

1560 Scotland. Following John Knox Scotland converts to Protestantism. Elizabeth converts England back towards the Protestant Faith and she begins to create the new Church of England. She also decreed that Ireland, who England rules weakly from Dublin should also convert to Protestantism. This contributes to riots which last the whole of her reign, but eventually Elizabeth becomes the first English Monarch to rule the whole of Ireland.

1561 Protestants flee to England from Spanish controlled Flanders and Holland bringing with them cloth making technology from wool. London expands as a port as exports surge. Economic recovery commences.          Elizabeth mints new coins with the correct amount of silver made from melting down Catholic religious crosses and chalices. Inflation is brought under control.

1562 John Hawkins commences shipping black slaves from West Africa to the    Spanish Caribbean. This is very profitable and Elizabeth invests some money

1564 Shakespeare in born in Stratford on Avon, north west of Oxford.  

1565 First steel made in England. (Kent)

Part 5 of Elizabeth’s story recommenced

1568 The Pope declares Elizabeth a bastard. The scene is set for European Catholics to invade England and remove Queen Elizabeth.   Mary Stuart, having been involved with too many sex scandals, flees from             Scotland to England to ask her cousin Elizabeth for protection. This poses a huge problem for Elizabeth as Catholics at home and in Europe see Catholic Mary as the rightful Queen of England. Elizabeth puts Mary Queen of Scots  under house arrest.  Elizabeth sends a small army to Flanders/Netherlands to help the Protestant       rebels against the occupying Catholic Spanish 2nd Irish rebellion against England’s extended colonisation. Finally suppressed by English forces led by Humphrey Gilbert and Walter Raleigh. Elizabeth gave both huge estates in Southern Ireland. See 1577. 

1570 The Pope goes further and Excommunicates Elizabeth. The Pope will now support any religious war against Elizabeth’s England.

1572 Elizabeth passes a poor law to make local parishes responsible for the poor.

1573 Drake begins raiding Spanish bases in Central America and the Caribbean.

1577 to 1580, Francis Drake, pirate turned explorer becomes the first to lead a fleet right round the world. En route round South America he raids Spanish settlements in Peru. Elizabeth joins with the Protestant Netherlands in a military alliance against the Catholic Spanish.

1579 Elizabeth’s military forces in Ireland finally put down the riot in the south. Walter Raleigh as part of Elizabeth’s army is granted huge estates in Munster (42,000 acres) which he farms for 17 years. This was the start of Raleigh’s close relationship with Elizabeth

1581 Elizabeth knights Frances Drake on his return to England with such a treasure pirated from Spanish territories as to pay off the whole of the English national debt. The Spanish are furious.

1585 Walter Raleigh sponsors the first English colonial settlement in North America

1586 Spanish finalize plans to invade England with the Popes blessing.

1587 Drake makes a pre-emptive strike against the Spanish port of Cadiz and sinks much of the Spanish fleet. The Spanish are again furious and Elizabeth gleeful. Elizabeth now reluctantly overseas the execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots who has been 19 years under house arrest but who has been involved with Catholic plots to overthrow Elizabeth and take the English crown for herself.

1588 Armada; The Spanish invasion of England sets sail from Spain intending to land in southern England and capture Elizabeth. Thanks to smaller more agile English ships under Lord Howard, with captains including Drake and many other skilful English pirates and terrible weather, the Spanish fleet was routed.  First Shakespeare plays written and preformed in London.

1589 The first flushing lavatory is built in England.

1590 Price of food increases well above increase in wages.  London described as the filthiest town in Europe as it expands with the rapid growth of international trade.

1594 James Lancaster, explorer and pirate, sets up first trading post in India. Nine year war between England and Ireland commences. This was the 5th and largest uprising against English rule in Elizabeth’s reign headed by the Earl of Tyrone in Ulster. Finally suppressed in 1603 by Lord Mountjoy.

1596 Food and land enclosure riots in England

1599 The Globe Playhouse opens on the South Bank just outside the City of London. This follows some 25 years when Elizabeth has encouraged the development of music and the arts including painters and poets as Renaissance England gathers pace.

1603 Elizabeth dies aged 70. She has ruled for 45 years.