Skip to main content
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I commemorating the defeat of the Spanish Armada

Everything you need to know about Queen Elizabeth I

Image: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I commemorating the defeat of the Spanish Armada | Public Domain

Daughter of Henry VIII and his infamous second wife, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most iconic monarchs in British history. Whether you know her story from the silver screen or the classroom blackboard, Elizabeth’s rise to power has captivated audiences throughout history.

But you might be surprised to learn that there's a little more to the Tudor monarch than you originally thought. Here are the answers to 15 questions you might have about the life of Elizabeth I.

What religion was Elizabeth I?

Elizabeth was a Protestant. In fact, the Church of England was created as a direct result of her father trying to get a divorce from Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn.

Following the death of her Catholic older sister, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth reinstated the Church of England and returned the country to her Protestant faith.

What education did Elizabeth I get?

Unlike most girls her age, Elizabeth received a very robust education. Although she was once considered to be in line for the throne, Elizabeth’s education leaned more towards classic literature and languages rather than politics.

She was a polyglot, fluent in at least seven languages and competent in many more, including French, Italian, Greek, and Latin. She was said to love learning and continued to do so throughout her life.

How old was Elizabeth I when Henry VIII died?

Elizabeth was 13 years old when her father died. When her younger brother, Edward, ascended to the throne, Elizabeth went to live with the family of her stepmother, Catherine Parr. However, she didn’t stay there long.

When she was found in an embrace with Parr’s new husband, Thomas Seymour, Elizabeth was banned from the house. Interestingly, this wasn’t the last time that Seymour and Elizabeth were involved in a scandal together.

Shortly after Catherine died in childbirth in 1548, Thomas Seymour was arrested for attempting to kidnap King Edward and plotting to marry the teenage Elizabeth. Seymour was executed while Elizabeth, who had claimed no knowledge of the scheme, escaped after intense questioning.

Was Elizabeth I a murder suspect?

Later in life, Queen Elizabeth was implicated in the death of Amy Rosbart, the wife of one of her alleged lovers - Robert Dudley. As Master of the Horse, Dudley had the unique position of being allowed to touch the Queen. His living quarters were directly next to Elizabeth’s and he would have been heavily involved with her life on a daily basis.

It didn’t take long for rumours to fly around the Tudor court about the inappropriate nature of the relationship between them. So, when Dudley’s young wife was found at the bottom of the stairs in their home, her neck broken, questions were asked.

While the mystery surrounding the death remains unsolved, many were convinced that Elizabeth had Amy killed off so that she could keep Dudley all to herself.

How old was Elizabeth I when she became queen?

When Elizabeth ascended the throne in November 1558, she was 25 years old. She was the last of the Tudor bloodline to be a monarch.

Did Elizabeth I survive smallpox?

In October 1562, Elizabeth started to feel under the weather. What first appeared to be a common cold actually turned out to be a violent case of smallpox. The Queen was very ill, and at first, her advisors thought she might die. She survived, however, and managed to avoid any major scarring - a common after-effect of the sickness.

Did Elizabeth I have any children?

Elizabeth I didn’t have any children. Known as the Virgin Queen, she never married and died without a legitimate heir.

Did Elizabeth I have lovers?

Elizabeth might never have married, but many suspect that she might not have been a virgin. She was known to have had very close relationships with some of her male advisors. However, there was never any evidence to suggest that these were anything more than close friendships forged through the stresses of running the country.

Did Elizabeth I have bad teeth?

Elizabeth had terrible teeth, with many of them turning black. Along with her love of sweets and marzipans, Elizabeth brushed her teeth with honey or sugar paste.

When did Queen Elizabeth I die?

Elizabeth I died on 24th March 1603, at Richmond Palace. With no heirs to inherit the throne, the Tudor bloodline ended after a 118-year-long dynasty.

How old was Elizabeth I when she died?

Elizabeth was 69 years old when she died. We don’t know for sure what was the cause of her death because she did not wish to undergo a post-mortem. There are many theories as to the cause of Elizabeth’s death, including that she died of blood poisoning from the long years of using lead-based makeup and that she might have had pneumonia, tonsilitis, or cancer.

Where is Elizabeth I buried?

Elizabeth is buried in Westminster Abbey. Her final resting state is shared by her half-sister, Mary Tudor.

Who reigned after Elizabeth I?

James VI of Scotland ascended the throne following Elizabeth’s death, becoming James I of England.

What was Elizabeth I famous for?

By the time of her death, Elizabeth was a well-loved and respected monarch. Her 45-year-long reign was considered one of the greatest in British history, and she was well respected as a smart, shrewd, and fair monarch.

Her speech at Tilbury and the subsequent defeat of the Spanish Armada cemented her as a fierce and decisive monarch who had the respect of her people. Under her rule, Britain truly began to flourish, and the exploration of the New World helped establish the nation as an emerging superpower.

Five fast facts about Elizabeth I

  • She loved clothes and was said to have owned over 2,000 pairs of gloves during her lifetime.
  • She believed in astrology and kept mathematician and astrologer John Dee on her staff.
  • She loved the arts and was a patron of the theatre. Shakespeare was even rumoured to be a close personal friend of hers.
  • She swore a lot and was well known for using colourful language around the court.
  • Elizabeth wasn’t just the last Tudor. She was also the last unmarried monarch and the last monarch of England before it united with Scotland.