11/18/08 - queen elizabeth I

In today's excerpt - the accession of Elizabeth I to be queen of a country that was in financial and political disarray:

"Elizabeth Tudor, one of the greatest and most fascinating of English monarchs, was the daughter of Henry VIII. ... Her elder half-sister Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, [was queen before her and] was brought up as a Catholic, Elizabeth as a Protestant. By November of 1558, when the last of close to 300 Protestants were burned alive as heretics, Queen Mary I, after five years on the throne, was childless, prematurely old at forty-two and seriously ill. ... Now twenty-five, Elizabeth was keeping quiet while important people deluged her with private messages of support. ...

"Mary died at St James' Palace in London at six in the grey morning of the November 17th. Parliament was assembled by eight o'clock and the Commons joined the Lords to agree that the Lady Elizabeth must be proclaimed Mary's successor immediately. ... London was seething with excitement. The new queen was a master of public relations, and she endeared herself to her people with spectacular processions and brilliantly orchestrated events. Splendidly dressed in purple velvet, she rode in procession on the 28th through crowded streets to the Tower of London. She had once been a prisoner there, but now children recited speeches to her at points along the route and there was much joyful music and firing off of guns. ...

"Elizabeth moved back to the Tower by water on January 12th' in a display which an Italian onlooker compared favourably to the annual occasion in Venice when the city wed the sea. The climax of showmanship came with her procession from the Tower to Westminster on the 14th, escorted by a thousand riders on horseback through occasional snow flurries. Magnificently robed in gold, she was carried slowly along in an open litter so that the cheering crowds could see her. Two mules in gold brocade bore the litter, and in the procession marched the gentlemen pensioners in crimson damask carrying gilt battle-axes, and an army of footmen in crimson jerkins adorned with a white and a red rose and the letters E.R. At intervals along the route through the City, there were pageants and music and recitations by children.

"Thousands of people had waited patiently for hours behind the barriers to see the show, and banners saluted Elizabeth from windows along the way. The procession took the entire afternoon as she stopped the litter frequently for people in the crowd who wanted to speak to her or give her nosegays. She was crowned in Westminster Abbey the next day, and when she was formally presented to her people there was such a huge shout and noise of trumpets fifes drums and ringing of bells that an observer said it was as if the world had come to an end.

'Elizabeth had already begun to make herself the sun around which her country revolved. Even the grumpy Spanish envoy admitted that she 'gives her orders and has her way as absolutely as her father did.' It was under her that England would emerge as a world power."


Richard Cavendish


Nov 17, 1558: The Accession of Elizabeth I


History Today


November 2008


barns and noble booksellers
Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity and support children’s literacy projects.


Sign in or create an account to comment