Video appunto: Elizabeth I - summaryElizabeth I was Queen of England from 1558 until her death in 1603. Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Anne's marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate.
When Elizabeth become queen, one of her first actions was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the supreme governor. She was eventually succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland. She had earlier been responsible for the imprisonment and execution of James's mother, Mary, Queen of Scots.
In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father. One of her mottoes was "video et taceo" ("I see but say nothing"). In religion, she was tolerant and avoided systematic persecution. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland. England's victory against the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history.
As she grew older, Elizabeth became celebrated for her virginity. She thought that a foreign husband would subject England to overseas rule, while an English one would create factions and plots. A cult grew around her which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day. Elizabeth's reign became known as the Elizabethan age. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Some historians depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity.
Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor in an era when government was ramshackle and limited, and when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones. After the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity. She consolidated the Reformation in 1559 by re-introducing the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity.
In 1586 Spain was preparing an Armada to invade Britain. Philip II of Spain wanted to bring England once again under the rule of the Church of Rome. The Spanish Armada set sail in 1588; it was the most serious naval attack on England since the Vikings, with about 130 ships. The English ships, however, were faster and better armed than the Spanish ones. The Armada escaped to the North Sea, damaged and hit by storms. The outcome of the failed invasion confirmed England’s supremacy at sea.
Elizabeth I was the first monarch to understand the importance of public relations and she carefully prepared her image for public use. Her pale face, reddish-gold hair, dark brown eyes, a hooked nose, rather thin lips and pronounced cheek bones are common to all her portraits. However, every painter has captured a slightly different image of the queen. She may well have had freckles, but like all Elizabethan ladies she used to avoid the sun on her face, and the make-up she wore for most of her life used to protect her delicate skin from a suntan. White skin was fashionable in Tudor times as it was what distinguished the rich from the poor. The phoenix, an image of virginity, symbolised her uniqueness, whereas the pelican stood for her total devotion to her people.