Because I am a huge fan of history and specifically of
monarchies, what they represented and why they were important, and I am also
curious about facts about them (it’s not that I am a pro monarchic person and I
don’t consider myself as a defensor of the monarchy), I have decided to make my
essay about the topic “Elizabeth I: a woman for the eternity”. Nevertheless, I
want to make it a little bit different and I am also going to compare it with an
important queen in the history of Spain. I am talking about Isabella I of
Castile, the Catholic Queen.
Elizabeth I, the Queen of England between 1558 and
1603, was the daughter of the Tudor king, Henry VIII, and his second wife, Anne
Boleyn. It is important to say that his father was previously married to Isabella
and Ferdinand’s daughter (known as the Catholic Kings of Spain), Catherine of
Aragon. From this marriage was born his first daughter, Mary, but because the
Tudor king wasn’t happy about that (at that time it was important to have a
male heir to secure the throne), he tried to obtain the divorce from Catherine
to marry Anne Boleyn and then try with her to have a son.
According to the Catholic Religion, the divorce wasn’t
an option, so he created a new religion: The Church of England which was later
known as Anglicanism thanks to his daughter Elizabeth. From the moment he
achieved his goal to divorce Catherine, he didn’t stop and had six wives. The
creation of this new religion and the scandal of having so many wives are some
of the motives why he is a well-known king.
I wanted to talk a little bit about his father and
this moment of the history of England because I consider that this influenced
Elizabeth a lot. She is also known as the Virgin Queen, even though she had
many lovers, but she is most known for refusing to marry someone to secure the
succession line of the Tudor dynasty. She didn’t want to give half of the power
she had for being queen to a man and let him control her. And I really think
that this was an issue because of his father’s problem with marriage. I totally
agree with her decision, because at that time the position of the woman in the
social life was reduced to be a wife or a mother, and in some cases, the
consort of a King or someone related to the high class and her decision was
something unexpected. It is admirable that she defended and fight for what she
wanted. She refused to be a toy in some man’s hands and she succeed.
However, I really think that she was afraid of
marrying someone that could take from her all the power and then treat her like
the rest of the women at that time: like an object to have kids. And maybe, she
was also afraid of being killed by his husband if she couldn’t have kids or
provide a male heir. She would have ended like her mother did. And she found the solution: if she didn’t
marry someone, there wasn’t that problem.
When her mother was condemned for treason and adultery
and then beheaded, the Parliament declared the marriage between her parents invalid,
so she became illegitimate and some time later, she had a brother, Edward, who
became the heir to the throne and she was declared the third in the succession
line. However, she was educated like a prince that was about to be the king of the
After the reign of his brother Edward when his father
died, it was his sister Mary who ascended to the throne. During this reign,
Elizabeth became a threaten to his sister and a time of trying to kill each
other began until Mary died without having any child. Then, it was the time for
Elizabeth to be the ruler of the country.
She became Elizabeth I, the Queen of England. And in
his coronation ceremony was very well welcome by the people. However, there
were some people who doubted about her because of her woman condition but soon
she made clear that she was worthy of the crown.
During her reign, there was still the preoccupation
about the continuation of the Tudor dynasty but also about the weak situation
of the country. She needed a husband and she received lot of propositions, but
she refused to marry someone. Because of this, his good relationship with the
Parliament became complicated.
Another problem during her reign was the rivalry
between her and Mary the Queen of Scotland. Both wanted to unify the two
nations under one of their reign.
To understand better this conflict, I saw a TV series
called “Reign” that was based on Mary of Scotland. In this TV series, the
rivalry between the two queens is always treated but it is not until the last
seasons when the figure of Elizabeth I appears.
This series is a mixed between fiction and history,
but I think that some key aspects are real. From this TV series I know that
their relationship became more complicated because Mary of Scotland married
Lord Darnley and this marriage was a threaten to Elizabeth’s crown. The child
that was born from this marriage was the legitimate heir to both England and
Scotland thrones. The conflict ended with the abdication of Mary and her
runaway from Scotland to England. She was also condemned to be imprisoned for
the rest of her life until she was beheaded. However, Elizabeth made Mary and
Darnley’s son the heir to both thrones. Apart from this conflict with Mary of
Scotland, it is important to remember the bad relationship that Elizabeth had
with King Phillip II of Spain.
I think that the beginning of the problem with the
Spanish King was when Elizabeth refused to marry Phillip II. He was previously
married with Elizabeth’s sister, Mary, and when this one died, I think he hoped
to still have the power and the crown of England over his head by marrying
Elizabeth. He didn’t expect a woman to refuse marrying him and he got very
angry for this and many other reasons such as his ships being attacked by the
One of the most important events during his reign was
the battle between England and Spain. Phillip declared war to England and he
used his Armada (called the “Invincible Armada”) to attack the country. Even
though his Armada was bigger than Elizabeth’s one, he lost the battle because
the English’s ships were smaller, faster and used to carry weapons. This
victory was a relief for her and her country, which was at a very good
His reign was called “The Golden Age” because art and
literature became very popular. William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe
became very important artists during this period and it was also important the
creation of the Globe Theatre.
Another significant event was the colonisation of
America after the battle against Phillip II. She was given permission to have
colonies there and the first colony was Virginia (to honour her because she was
known as the “virgin” queen).
Now, having said that I want to compare Elizabeth of
England to Isabella I, the Catholic Queen, and because I have study a little
bit both them, I really think that there are a bunch of similarities between
First, there is not a familiar relation between them and
their reign didn’t coexist. What is more, and as I said before, the Catholic
Queen’s daughter (Catherin of Aragon) was the first wife of Elizabeth of
England’s father. It is clear they are not related.
However, I see some similarities between their lives
and reigns and I am going to explain them focusing in their strong image in a
world ruled by men.
Before continuing with my work, I want to say that I
once saw another TV series, a Spanish one, about Isabella of Castile, named
“Isabel” and I really liked it and learnt about the history of Spain. I have
read that the producers tried to make it as true as possible and I really
recommend seeing it.
Isabella of Trastamara, later known as Isabella I of
Castile or the Catholic Queen, was the daughter of Juan II of Castile and Isabella
of Portugal but she wasn’t the heir to the throne. It was his older stepbrother
Henry, born in his father’s previous matrimony. She also had a younger brother,
Henry had a daughter, Juana, which was going to be the
heir but because there were doubts about his paternity, a succession problem
was born. Some Henry’s enemies tried to dethrone him by using Alfonso, who was
crowned in a farce, but ended dying. The succession problem continued because
some wanted Juana to be the queen and others wanted Isabella on the throne.
Finally, and as it is obvious, Isabella was the chosen one.
The succession problem of Castile is the first
similarity I see between both queens. They were the last option because there
was always a man before them and it is because at that time, men were the first
on the succession line even if there was a female that was the first – born.
It is sad that they were queens because the men in the
royal families of both countries died. They should have been queens because
they were “chosen” (as if it was possible). They both proved that they were
prepared to rule a country despite being women and not receiving the same
education as men. They both had to fight against their detractors and people
who doubted about them.
However, I think that Elizabeth of England wasn’t
proud of his woman nature. One of her famous quotes is:
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart
and stomach of a king, and a king of England, too”.
Maybe she was proud of being a woman, but this quote
and some others that I have seen, make me think the opposite.
My theory, as I said before in this essay, is that all
this comes from his father’s obsession of having a son and that he had lot of
matrimonies to achieve that goal. I don’t know if I am right or wrong about it.
Continuing with the similarities and a little bit of
Isabella’s life and reign, it is important to say that before knowing she was
going to ascend to the throne, his brother Henry tried to marry her for politic
reasons and to maintain better relationships with other nations. However, she
refused and secretly married Ferdinand II of Aragon, his cousin.
When Henry died, she ascended to the throne and auto –
proclaimed herself as the Queen of Castile in 1474 without his husband by her
side. And she later refused to name him as King of Castile. This battle for the
crown of Castile inside the matrimony was solved with the “Concord of Segovia”.
In this document it is said that they both were kings of Castile, they both
signed the royal documents even though Ferdinand’s signature came before Isabella’s
one, but it was Isabella who ruled the country and made the important
I consider this as another similarity with Elizabeth
of England. They refused to be controlled by men on the decision about their
There is a difference because Elizabeth of England
didn’t marry someone. She refused to do it, as I said before. She didn’t want
to divide her power with her husband and she didn’t want to be her husband’s
shadow. But Isabella of Castile chose the person she wanted to marry, and she
didn’t let her brother Henry decide who was going to be her husband. They made
their decisions, different ones, but they were able to choose.
Another comparison I want to make between them is that
they both were strong queens that didn’t need a man by his side and they were
loved by their people. They made important decisions for their countries:
Elizabeth of England expanded the English territory to America with the
Virginia colony, she made Anglicanism the official religion of the country, she
made his reign richer in culture and she faced and won many battles like the
one with the Spanish “Invincible Armada” of Phillip II; Isabella of Castile
financed Cristopher Columbus expedition, she unified Spain by wining the battle
against the Nasrid kingdom and she made his kingdom one of the most important
and richest at that time.
Their legacy marked the history of both countries and
they are always going to be remembered as strong and important Queens of
Europe. For being strong women, it is correct to say: God save the queens!