Mary I was born in 1516: she was a girl and so a disappointment to her father Henry VIII. Rejection by her father and the cruel treatment of her mother influenced her life. While her father broke with Rome she didn’t abandon her traditional faith and when she became queen in 1553 she tried to be the agent of a Counter-Reformation. The burning of Protestants earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary”. Mary’s end was tragic: she was deserted by her husband and her country was still divided over religion.
In 1558 Elizabeth became queen of a divided nation. She was 25 and had a strong personality, a great intelligence and an excellent education. She was a political genius of the first order. She faced the problems of marriage and succession, religious division and domestic discontent. She was unmarried and she used to repeat that “the Queen was married to her people”. She wore magnificent clothes adorned with rich jewels, she had numerous portraits painted and a lot of copies were distributed.