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The Greatest People in History Series - The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I

The Greatest People in History- Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I Quote

"A Clear and innocent conscience fears nothing."

Hampton Court - One of Queen Elizabeth's Several Residences

Procession of Queen Elizabeth

The Greatest People in History and What We Can Learn from Them - Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII was born on September 7, 1533 but was by no means welcomed into the world, except by her mother. Her father, on the other hand was very disappointed at having fathered a daughter, instead of a son to continue on his legacy as the next King of England.


Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn was unable to produce a son for King Henry no matter how much they tried and after many miscarriages and a still-born son, Henry was so outraged he began to make plans to do away with Anne Boleyn. However, Henry was a man who always got what he wanted and in this case his aim wasn't just to behead and do away with Anne Boleyn, for he had already secretly chosen a new bride to supply him with an heir, Jane Seymour, who was younger than Anne. Having married Anne Boleyn as the head of the Church of England and publicly stating that the marriage was permanent and binding, he couldn't make a fool of himself by divorcing her. King Henry was a very determined man, however, and he decided the best way to get rid of Anne was by destroying her reputation. He did that by drumming up false charges of adultery and treason and even had several men tortured until they agreed to confess to having had affairs with the queen. One of the accused was even her own brother; Henry was willing to stoop to the lowest depths in order to get what he wanted, her head.

Honorable to the Last - The Ultimatum

Somewhat surprisingly though, sometime before she was due to be executed, King Henry had visited Anne in her cell in the Tower of London and offered her one last chance: if she agreed to divorce him, to exile herself and her daughter to France, and give up the child's rights to the throne, he would let her live. Anne Boleyn had refused. She preferred an honorable death to a life of disgrace. More importantly, she had no intention of depriving her daughter Elizabeth of her legitimate birthright. She believed the child would be a queen someday and she believed she would be a great queen.

The queen was put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to death. She was taken to the Tower of London and beheaded by a specialist from France who used a sword to lop off her head.

The English Armada Vs The Spanish Armada

A Great Queen

With that conviction and faith, Anne Boleyn sacrificed her life. She did not do so in vain. Elizabeth Tudor grew up to become Elizabeth I, queen of England, the most famous monarch in the history of the country. Her achievements in exploration, the arts, and international and domestic politics were so outstanding that her period of reign has ever since been called The Golden Age of England.

Lessons From One of the Greatest People Who Ever Lived - Queen Elizabeth

Lesson One: Never let a negative past, no matter how hard, control the direction of your life. Don't dwell on things that were out of your control.

Things didn't look so golden for Elizabeth in the year of 1536. She was barely three when her mother was executed, but no one knows how it affected her; she never mentioned her mother for the rest of her life. Nevertheless, she seemed to learn an important lesson from the treachery that led to her mother's death and which was such an integral part of England's royal history. As queen, and even as a young woman, she was known for her cautious and secretive manner and her ability to neutralize potentially dangerous situations.

Elizabeth - motherless and ignored by her indifferent father - found solace in books and studying. She was a brilliant student who mastered several languages, the Bible, history, mathematics, geography, and most of the important literature of her time. Her tutor, with sexism typical of the age, said that "Her mind has no womanly weakness; her perseverance is equal to that of a man, and her memory long keeps what it quickly picks up." When Elizabeth was fourteen, King Henry died and the crown was passed on to King Edward, who was nine years old. Edward died of consumption only six years later, and the crown went to Elizabeth's half-sister, Mary Tudor. It was the beginning of a reign that would forever darken England's history books and earned the queen the nickname Bloody Mary.

Lesson: If you have had a tough past and were treated poorly and unfairly, rather than let that fact weigh you down and BECOME YOU, use it in a more positive way. Learn from it, don't hide from it or use it as a badge of justification for every failure in your life. Look at what occurred and analyze it from an objective point of view. What lessons can you take from it? How can those lessons improve the quality of your life today? If they can't, discard them and move on. The greatest people in history have all been through tough pasts in order to reach their greatness and more often than not, the hardship spurred them on even more. Blame wears YOU down. The blamed may never even know your feelings towards them. What do you want to be? Focus on that without the attachment of bitterness from the past and you can be anything you choose, while taking the lessons learned along the way.

"The past is over.. .forget it. Thefuture holds hope.. .reach for it." - Charles R. Swindoll

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." - Thomas Jefferson

"Past failures are guideposts for future success." - Unknown

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Lesson Two: By all means, listen to advice from friends and colleagues; it helps to have as many different perspectives on a given problem or issue as you can. However, the final decision must always be yours. Follow your heart, even if a friend's advice seems, objectively, to be the better option. Scientists have proven that the heart has its own brain and is likely to be responsible for feelings and emotions, hence the saying, "follow your heart."

In her first year, Elizabeth made brilliant appointments that had much to do with her later success. The most important of these was Sir William Cecil, her chief advisor, who worked with her through her entire reign. She gave Cecil's opinions the utmost respect and consideration but in the end, all decisions were made by her alone. An envoy who met her early during her reign said: "She gives her orders and has her way as absolutely, as her father did." People often compared Elizabeth's temperament to her father's, as she herself did.

She refused to allow Parliament, or the public, to discredit her on the basis of gender, saying: "I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too."

Lesson: Too often, we are led astray by misguided and sometimes deceitful advisors who could be friends, family or colleagues. Some wear the guise of a caring, sympathetic type who urge you to take your time and not be so hasty or take a completely different path altogether. All in good time, take each day as it comes etc. Still, others genuinely want what is best for you and will support you by offering suggestions and support. Take advice, but remember that it is your life and only you truly know what it is you want out of it. Your choices are your risks to take, your lessons to learn and besides, you will be well respected and vaunted as a person who knows and gets what they want without the indecisiveness that comes from relying on others. Most of all, you'll learn to rely and to trust your own judgement and that is priceless!

Lesson Three: When the odds are stacked against you and all the signs are pointing towards catastrophic failure, stand firm, have faith in yourself and use your creativity to overcome the problem facing you.

For many years, Spain and England had been close to war and perhaps one of the only reasons they hadn't yet gone to war with one another was because Spain was too busy colonizing the New World to arrange such a huge undertaking. Elizabeth was far too obsessed with peace to even consider it. However, in 1588 Spain finally reached the point where they had grown tired of England's constant raiding of their gold laden galleons and interference with their trade routes. King Philip decided it was time to punish England for their crimes against Spain (Elizabeth had also refused a marriage proposal from King Philip) and for King Philip to reinstate the Catholic church as the official state religion.

Queen Elizabeth was massively unprepared for war. Not only was the English navy half the size of Spain's but even worse, England had no army because in times of peace Elizabeth always released it. England were facing defeat even before the Spanish had set sail, and in order for them to prevail against the massive Spanish fleet of 130 ships, and the Spanish army which was to be reinforced by another huge force awaiting pick up in the Netherlands, Elizabeth had to end the war at sea.

Elizabeth refused to be discouraged by what seemed to be overwhelming odds against her. She knew the English ships were smaller and quicker. They were also longer, could carry more guns and were crewed by exceptionally skilled sailors and officers. First she levied an emergency tax and gathered the funds to finance an army, under the direction of her long-time friend Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Then she marshaled her best navy captains - Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, and Charles Howard, whom she made commander of the fleet.

As the notorious Armada sailed closer and closer, she visited her troops in person, dressed in full armor over a velvet white dress and mounted on a white horse. She told them: "I have always placed my strength in the loyal hearts of my subjects. I am resolved to live or die among you, to lay down for God, for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even in the dust. She was 55 years old at that point, and had ruled England for over 30 years, in which time her subjects, the people of England had grown to love her and trust in her wisdom and strength. They would not let her down.

It had been five centuries since England had been invaded, but its people had not lost their spirit nor their valor. The English met the Armada in the English Channel and fought aggressively for a week. However, when the Spanish fleet reached Calais, it was virtually unharmed. The English continued to push for a total victory despite the obvious disadvantage and they were rewarded when Commander Howard sent eight fire ships crashing into the anchored Spanish fleet and several ships went up in flames. The Spanish panicked and in the battle that followed, the English sank several more ships. It was a stunning and surprising victory. The Spanish Armada fled for home but it was driven by gales into the North Sea. Many more ships were wrecked in the storm and by the time the mighty Armada limped into port at Spain, only 67 of the original 130 ships had survived. The English, under queen Elizabeth were unbeatable and that is a testament to the great determination and will-power possessed by Elizabeth.

Lesson: Stand firm in the face of sheer adversity and have faith in yourself and your resources. In your case, resources are your attributes like will-power, determination, faith and your skill sets. When you act with complete faith in yourself, in any endeavor something wonderful happens within your mind. Your conscious mind (Elizabeth), impresses the subconscious mind (The troops/sailors and officers) and you become imbued with an almost unstoppable persistence and determination that carries you through. As with Elizabeth and her show of faith in her troops by visiting them, in full battle armor, armed with words of inspiration and of faith in their ability, affirm your greatness and clothe yourself in an iron resolve and refusal to back down. Use creativity alongside your faith in your ability to fashion the ways and means of victory.

"Be courageous! Have faith! Go forward." - Thomas A. Edison

"The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls out the divinity within. You can do anything!" - Swami Vivekananda

"What seems impossible one minute, through faith, becomes possible the next." - Norman Vincent Peale

Greatest People Poll

The Greatest English Monarch of Them All

The radiant queen Elizabeth

The radiant queen Elizabeth

The Great Queen Elizabeth's Speech to Her Troops in Tilbury as They Prepared for the Invasion of the Spanish Armada (The Virgin Queen)

The National Maritime Museum

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