Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was queen of England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. She preserved stability in a nation rent by political and religious dissension and maintained the authority of the Crown against the growing pressures of Parliament.
Born at Greenwich, on Sept. 7, 1533, Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Because of her father''''s continuing search for a male heir, Elizabeth''''s early life was precarious. In May 1536 her mother was beheaded to clear the way for Henry''''s third marriage, and on July 1 Parliament declared that Elizabeth and her older sister, Mary, the daughter of Henry''''s first queen, were illegitimate and that the succession should pass to the issue of his third wife, Jane Seymour. Jane did produce a male heir, Edward, but even though Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate, she was brought up in the royal household. She received an excellent education and was reputed to be remarkably precocious, notably in languages (of which she learned Latin, French, and Italian) and music.
Edward VI and Mary
During the short reign of her brother, Edward VI, Elizabeth survived precariously, especially in 1549 when the principal persons in her household were arrested and she was to all practical purposes a prisoner at Hatfield.
In this period she experienced ill health but pursued her studies under her tutor, Roger Ascham.
In 1553, following the death of Edward VI, her sister Mary I came to the throne with the intention of leading the country back to Catholicism. The young Elizabeth found herself involved in the complicated intrigue that accompanied these changes. Without her knowledge the Protestant Sir Thomas Wyatt plotted to put her on the throne by overthrowing Mary. The rebellion failed, and though Elizabeth maintained her innocence, she was sent to the Tower. After 2 months she was released against the wishes of Mary''''s advisers and was removed to an old royal palace at Woodstock. In 1555 she was brought to Hampton Court, still in custody, but on October 18 was allowed to take up residence at Hatfield, where she resumed her studies with Ascham.