7th September 1533 – The Birth of Queen Elizabeth I

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon of the 7th September at Greenwich Palace, a great Queen was born. This little red-haired, dark eyed girl was born to King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn, Bluff King Hal and the woman who was later maligned by history and called “The Whore”.

Her birth, although initially a disappointment, was a joyous occasion, but nobody on that September day realised that this baby would grow up to be a great Queen of England, a queen who would rule for over 40 years and who would be known for her Golden Age and England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada: the iconic Elizabeth I. Happy 477th Birthday, Elizabeth!

I’ve recently been accused of being overly “devoted” to Elizabeth, rather than running a website devoted to her, but I don’t see there being anything wrong in admiring Elizabeth I. As David Starkey says in his brilliant book “Elizabeth”, “almost all her historians fall a little in love with Elizabeth” and it is so true. The more I research her, the more I love her. Yes, she had her faults and could be incredibly cruel to those around her, but we all have faults, nobody is perfect. David Starkey talks about how most historians fall in love with the Queen, “the bewigged and beruffed Gloriana”, but how he fell in love with the young Elizabeth, the vulnerable, serious girl of the portrait, and I think it’s the young Elizabeth that I am drawn to too. The girl who suffered so much and who could be forgiven for becoming a psychological mess, a “victim”, but who instead rose above everything to become a success, a Queen. What draw me to her are her perseverance, ironic when that’s the part that her mother played in the “Chateau Vert” masquerade at the English court, and also her incredible strength of character. In her early life she had to cope with:-

  • Losing her mother, in a brutal way, and being neglected by her father, so much so that Lady Bryan, the head of her household had to write to the King begging for clothes for her.
  • Having stepmother after stepmother and losing one to the axeman.
  • Losing her father when she was just 14.
  • Being sexually abused by her stepfather, Thomas Seymour – Her stepmother, Catherine Parr, even restrained her while he slashed her dress to pieces.
  • The stigma of being the daughter of Anne Boleyn, a woman executed as a traitor.
  • Going from pampered princess to bastard to princess again and then once again being removed from the succession by her half-brother, Edward VI.
  • Being imprisoned in the Tower of London by her half-sister, Mary I, and fearing for her life.

I’m not sure that I could have coped with all of that and then becoming queen at the age of 25! Whatever her faults and whatever your view on her reign, Elizabeth I was an incredible woman and her birth and her life should be celebrated. I will be raising a glass to you, Elizabeth, and also to your mother, Anne Boleyn.

Please also read my article The Birth of Elizabeth I over at The Anne Boleyn Files and my article from 7th September last year, Happy Birthday Good Queen Bess.

Notes and Sources

  • Elizabeth, David Starkey, page X in the introduction

17 thoughts on “7th September 1533 – The Birth of Queen Elizabeth I

  1. Thank you for all your comments and I’m sure that Elizabeth I would be very humbled to know that so many people all around the world are remembering her on her birthday 477 years later.

    T W Morrison,
    I’m astounded by your comment. Why do you feel that Elizabeth is a “butcher” or “sexually depraved”? Your comments would be relevant if Elizabeth had been a rapist or paedophile but she was neither of those things. Please can you back up your views with some facts.

  2. Good article Claire, I too was sitting here reading through the comments and came to TW’s…kind of scratching my head? Yeah Henry was this side of depraved, but to label Elizabeth as depraved as her father left me wondering which version of history TW was looking at..

  3. Claire,

    Thanks for for the article on Elizabeth’s 477th birthday. I agree with you about Elizabeth. I admire her for her extreme intelligence and the way she constanly fought for her rightful place in the succession. She had to live by her wits-and it certainly paid off-becoming one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) ruler England ever had. Happy Birthday Elizabeth and rest in peace.

    P.S. I can’t get over the comments by T. W. – he obviously didn’t read very good books on English history!

  4. I commented over on the Anne Boleyn Forum and didn’t have a chance here to wish a Happy Birthday to Elizabeth. I fell in love with history from a very young age and it was both Biblical and English history that became part of my life. I first read about Elizabeth when I was about 7 or 8 (thanks to an American history book), and she has remained a fascination to me. Claire – you were right in saying that not many of us could have overcome all of the challenges thrown at her, especially when some were beyond one’s control, and how many in British history can say that they walked into the Tower and then out of it and survived to tell the story? And she has remained a fascination to me in a way I never had with any other English queen who reigned (or ruled), ie. Victoria. I know she had her faults like all my favorite heroes (Lincoln, Washigton, Churchill, Nelson among them), but she’ll continue to be a lifetime study to me.

  5. Wow! I still can’t believe it when I read someone “dissing” Ol Bess. (Must be Spainish! Ouch!) You are right to love and admire Queen Elizabeth as well as her mother, and I hope you go right on telling people everything they’d ever want to know about these incredible women. I had the impression that Henry was fond of her as she matured and lovingly refered to her as Isabeau, and we know she adored him. Is there any record of her reburying her mother’s body with dignity (even secretly), I know she wore her mother’s image within the famous ring, so I cannot understand her failing her in this oblligation.

  6. Hi Suuny,
    I agree with you, I think Henry did adore her and delighted in her intelligence, and the way that she looked like him (red hair, long nose etc.). No, there is no record of Elizabeth taking any steps to move her mother’s body but I think she was sensible not to, she would have been opening up a can of worms in that her enemies saw her as a bastard usurper. Best not to draw attention to the fact that she was the daughter of Anne Boleyn.

  7. You guys… don’t pay any attention to what that T.W. Morrison person says. He/she is obviously just trolling on here to get attention.

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