On November 17, 1558 at the age of 25, Elizabeth I became Queen taking over the throne from her half-sister Mary I, who died after a brief reign of only five years; they share a common father in King Henry VIII of England.
Elizabeth’s sister was given the unflattering moniker of “Bloody Mary” because of the protestants executed, or at the very least persecuted and imprisoned, under her Catholic rule.
Elizabeth I, in contrast to her sister’s short rule, was Queen for over 44 years. Her start in life was tragic. Her mother Anne Boleyn (the second wife of Henry VIII and as such the Queen of England) was found guilty of high treason on May 15, 1536 and beheaded four days later when Elizabeth was only two and a half years of age.
Elizabeth’s father the King had his marriage to Anne annulled and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate stripping away her title as princess and replaced with Lady Elizabeth.
But despite her dire beginnings that would have defeated most, it did not stop Elizabeth I from becoming one of our most admired and iconic Queens. Her time of reign is known as The Elizabethan era. Upon becoming Queen she made her intentions known. Her speech (Full document reproduced by Loades, 36–37. ) below:
My lords, the law of nature moves me to sorrow for my sister; the burden that is fallen upon me makes me amazed, and yet, considering I am God’s creature, ordained to obey His appointment, I will thereto yield, desiring from the bottom of my heart that I may have assistance of His grace to be the minister of His heavenly will in this office now committed to me. And as I am but one body naturally considered, though by His permission a body politic to govern, so shall I desire you all … to be assistant to me, that I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth. I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and counsel.