Men, Women and Society
Elizabeth I was undoubtedly England’s greatest Queen. Like her father before her, her court was a place where the arts and European culture were welcomed. She was a formidable woman in a man’s world. She also fostered travel to distant shores to begin a time of globalization, hence Sir Walter Raliegh’s discovery of Virginia and naming it (with her permission) after the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth. One of her greatest achievements was the prosperity of the Elizabethan age, keeping peace in her kingdom and her subjects from war, with the exception of the Spanish Armada.
Born in 1533 to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the long ...view middle of the document...
” (Somerset 11). She excelled in literature, riding, archery, dancing, and playing the harpsichord. She was particularly proficient in languages such as Greek, Latin, French and Italian which, unbeknownst at the time, was giving her the upper hand in continuing socialization and would later serve as an advantage to foreign dignitaries. Elizabeth was never trained for the role of Queen because she was not expected to become “more than the consort of foreign sovereign.” (Fraser 202).
“As far as her personality was concerned, she inherited very little from her father or her mother. She had Henry’s red hair, his intelligence, his physical energy, and his ebullient personality, but not his ability to take rapid decisions, his cold, calculating cruelty, his utter lack of conscience, and his disregard of everything except his own personal advantage and pleasure. She had Anne Boleyn’s vivacity and charm, but not her daring and irresponsibility. But, Elizabeth’s destiny and actions were determined by the fact that she was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn-of a father who was a ruthless despot, a national leader against the hated foreigner, and a conservative in religion, but also of a mother who represented, in the eyes of her friends and enemies, subversive Protestantism, the revolutionary movement of the century.” (Ridley 17). After her father died, her brother took the throne but then died leaving it to her sister, Mary. While Mary reigned, Elizabeth was off and on in prison for suspicion of aiding rebellion against her sister the queen. During this time she perfected her technique of giving “answerless answers” which often saved her life. She etched into the glass with a diamond ring during one of her imprisonments, “Much suspected by me, nothing proved can be, quoth Elizabeth, prisoner” (Ridley 63). During this time both Scotland and England had woman rulers which John Knox (in Scotland) viewed as monstrous in nature. This view was not something that was uncommon in that era. There was a constant struggle within the “belief that the status of a female is inferior to the status of a male” (Gender roles 3) between the many people.
At age 25 in 1558, Elizabeth’s sister Mary died leaving her the throne. When she learned that her reign had begun, she quoted from the Psalms, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes!” (Fraser 202). One begins to see Elizabeth’s important sense of self, in her first recorded statement of her reign. “The sharp hostile eyes of the Spanish ambassadors saw something different; in their opinion, the outstanding characteristic of Elizabeth was pusillanimity.” (Strachey 11). They were wrong but they had come into contact into the forces of the Queen which proved to be her enormous triumph. “That triumph was not the result of heroism…In reality, she succeeded by virtue of all the qualities which every hero should be without-dissimulation, pliability, indecision, procrastination, and parsimony.” (11)....