“I may not be a lion, but I am a lion’s cub, and I have a lion’s heart” –Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I: An Iconic Figure and Wonderful Queen
In 1533, a little baby girl was born to a fashionable, elegant mother and a bulky, hot tempered father. The name that was given to her was Elizabeth. She was a joy to her mother, but a reminder to her father of the forever need for a male heir; which eventually (and unfortunately) her mother could not provide. With her mother being executed and her father choosing to not recognize her as legitimate, Elizabeth was thrust into the new situation of being a bastard and taken away from the elaborate lifestyle that she had been accustomed to. Even though she was only a little girl, this event alone must have been devastating.
Something I have always admired about Elizabeth was her strength. I think it took a lot to be a woman during that time and especially to be the daughter of a “wishy washy” king. Women during the 16th century were like pieces in a game of chess. They were moved around and put into positions that could better benefit the family as a whole. Elizabeth was no different. I think the strength that she had came about due to her upbringing. During those times, Elizabeth would have been expected to just except what the king did or said and move on with it. This very thought though is what brought about her intense desire to prove everyone wrong. She knew what was said about her (that she was called a bastard) and I think this gave her a thirst to try to make up for everything that was done to her because of that. I deeply admire her strength for not only enduring what she did, but also once she became queen she was a fair and just queen. It takes a lot to look at those who have scorned you throughout your life and to not treat them unfairly. I also admire her strength in the pure fact that she honored, respected, and loved her father—even after everything he did to her. One would think that she would instead do the exact opposite and have a deep hatred of her father. I praise her for standing up against all odds and becoming the woman that she became.
The next thing that I find so amazing about Elizabeth was that she was her mother’s daughter. I think in my quest to find information about Anne Boleyn, I quickly realized how similar Elizabeth was to her mother. Quick witted, charming, and always surrounded by men—it just echoes Anne. I think Elizabeth, even without knowing her mother, probably had a yearning to be close to her because they were so much alike. I know that I have been told I am like my father’s mother—who died when I was in the 2nd grade. I do not remember much about her since she lived in another state and we barely were able to make it up there except during summers. Due to the knowledge that I am so much like her, though, I find myself wishing that she was here or trying sometimes to find things like pictures or letters that would make me feel closer to her. This is how I picture Elizabeth. I picture her wanting to feel closer to the mother she never really knew and to try to do everything in her power to make her proud—even though she wasn’t around. I can’t imagine going through life without a mother who would be there to guide you and let you know everything was going to be ok. I almost picture her sitting alone in a room sometimes and going over the big decisions in life that she had to make and just calling out to either her mother or father and wishing that they were there to help her. Perhaps being able to talk to them was a comfort to her to say the least. I just know that it makes Elizabeth more real and more of a person then this towering iconic queen. Thinking about how she yearned for her parents and yearned for their approval brings her down to our level—because after all she was a person with real feelings and despite her hard exterior, she was scared and probably felt alone a lot. Just like her mother.
Lastly, the thing that I find so amazing about Elizabeth was her determination. She was determined to make England a better place—even despite the fact that she was extremely scared and didn’t know what to do at first. She wanted England to be out of debt and to be in good graces with other countries. She also wanted to make a name for England—not as the spoiled stepchild of the world, but instead she wanted England to be a complete powerhouse and most feared country. She got that through her intense work and defeat of the Spanish Armada. For a woman to rule a country and conquer a country like that—it’s just indescribable of how it makes me feel. I am far from being a feminist. Of course, I believe in women’s rights and think that we can do just as great of a job as a man—if not better. However, each time I think about what Elizabeth stood up against and what she conquered, it makes me want to stand up and shout “You Go Girl!” She was a woman of great power before women even really had that power and the best thing about her being queen finally (I think) is that it was a slap in the face to all who doubted her and who wished she were a boy instead of a girl. It makes me sad to think that the little baby, who was born to a mother who eventually was scorned and executed, became this wonderful powerful woman who lived and died without ever truly knowing her mother and without both her mother and father being able to see what she did for England. On the other hand though, it makes me happy because she did what no one thought she could do and I think that’s what truly led her to become who she was and for her to be so determined to show that her father indeed should have been ecstatic when she was born, for he was looking into the face of the future queen of England. Not only the future queen of England, in fact, he was looking into the face of England’s favorite queen.
By Jennifer Schuh