A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Elizabeth 1, the Virgin Queen

I do not want a husband who honours me as a queen, if he does not love me as a woman.

he was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn,  the  last of the Tudor Monarchs of England, one of the greatest rulers during the countries Golden Age.  Henry had always wanted a son and heir to succeed him, so her birth was probably the biggest disappointment in his life.  He already had a daughter, Mary, by his first wife.  Her childhood was one that we would today call dysfunctional.  Her mother, after failing to provide the King with an heir, was executed on false charges of incest and adultery in 1536.  Her mother's marriage to the King was then declared null and void leaving Elizabeth, just as her half- sister declared as illegitimate and deprived of her place in the line of succession.

During the following years, Elizabeth saw her father go through a succession of wives, and it was through his marriage to Jane Seymour, Henry finally got the son he longed for, Edward, but Jane died giving birth to him.  Then there was Anne of Cleves who the King soon divorced, Catherine Howard who was beheaded, and finally Catherine Parr.  Could this constant succession of bride changing be at the core of Elizabeth's refusal to marry?  Or was it a fear of childbirth which claimed the lives of many women during this period?

Henry did make sure that, as a child, Elizabeth received quite an  impressive education, although I think the reason for this had little to do with his desire to educate Elizabeth, but by this time period, it had become fashionable amongst the nobility to educate their daughters as well as sons.  Thus,  was taught by famous scholars , and from an early age, she excelled in her studies...especially languages, and by adulthood, she was able to speak five languages very fluently.

When Henry died in the January of 1547, her brother became King Edward VI, and Elizabeth now found herself vulnerable to those who saw her as a political pawn, for despite being declaring her illegitimate, Henry had reinstated his daughters in the line of succession. Mary was to follow Edward, and Elizabeth was to follow Mary. This meant that Elizabeth was now second in line to the throne. Edward, only 9 years old, was far too young to rule the country by himself so his uncle, Edward Seymour, became Protector of England.   King Edward died in the summer of 1553, and Mary took the throne.

Mary was not a particularly popular monarch, and when she died in November, 1558, Elizabeth was welcomed as Queen.  Mary's reign had been short, but it had been barbaric, earning Mary the title Bloody Mary.
As Queen, Mary, in trying to restore England to Catholicism, plunged England into a dark age and left England impoverished.  Elizabeth, on the other hand worked hard to maintain peace and stability and always tried to please her subjects. She was inspired to create a prospering country by both her need to please the common people and the need to prove to all that she was wise, strong and powerful, even though she was a woman. And what she lacked in feminine warmth, she more than made up for in the wisdom she had gained from a difficult and unhappy youth.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, what a feeling of supreme triumph it must have been for the unwanted daughter who had spent her life in the shadow of the court, cast aside and forgotten, and  now that she was Queen, Elizabeth was determined to enjoy her new-found freedom to the hilt. She loved all kinds of sports, especially horseback riding; she also loved hunting, music and dancing, pageantry, watching plays, and could even play the lute herself with a great deal of skill. Elizabeth had no time for those Puritan theologians who deemed such things impious...and it was her love of the arts that was responsible for the flourishing of the literary masterpieces of the period. 

Meanwhile, marriage proposals were pouring in, but Elizabeth became the only English monarch who chose not to marry, thus denying herself a chance to secure an heir.  And when King Phillip of Spain sent his mighty fleet against England,  She oversaw her fleets' victory against the Spanish Armada off the coast of England's Southern shores and her popularity rose in another personal triumph as she had proved that she, a woman, could lead in war as well as any man. 

Elizabeth was dedicated to her country in a way few monarchs had been or have been since. She was political genius who nurtured her country through careful leadership and by choosing capable men to assist her.  She was a determined woman, yes, but she was always willing to listen to the advice of those around her. In 1558, she had taken over the rule of an impoverished country which had been torn apart by religious squabbles, but, when she died at Richmond Palace on the March 24, 1603, after a great reign that lasted 45 years, England had become one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world.  She had changed not only the way the world looked at Britain, but also how people looked at the world. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story as always Mary. So many things I never knew. Can't even imagine what she had to go through to accomplish all she did...