Elizabeth was 46 years old when she sent her “frog” Francis, the Duke of Alencon and Anjou, on his way. Elizabeth told Parliament that ‘If I were a milkmaid with a pail on my arm, whereby my private person might be little set by, I would not forsake that poor and single state to match with the greatest monarch.’ Her councilors, the Parliament, and her people finally realized that she was serious about remaining unmarried.
If she would not—by now, could not—bear children, who would succeed her? Many subjects had known no other monarch. The English had become accustomed to the stability her reign offered. The English had become comfortable, if not wealthy, during her reign. Elizabeth steadfastly refused to discuss a successor.
Few wanted a return to their Catholic past which Mary, Queen of Scot offered. Fortunately, she had fled to England seeking sanctuary from her subjects for her misdeeds. Instead of sanctuary, she found a prison cell where Elizabeth sent a succession of keepers to insure that she stayed there. Mary’s teenage son, King James, however, was a staunch Protestant who was a promising monarch. She had strong councilors in her service. Robert Dudley, the love of her life, realizing that he had no chance with Elizabeth, married Elizabeth’s cousin to start his own dynasty.
Elizabeth was healthy but could not realistically look forward to many years. She, like most Elizabethans, was already losing her teeth and those that she had were turning yellow. She still rode
horses daily, hunted often and danced every day.
But when you’re Queen, you can create your own world. She became the Fairie Queen who, thanks to the attention of an army of attendants, would remain forever young. She allowed herself to be courted by young men who professed her to be the greatest beauty at court and vowed their undying love.
Among the new courtiers who attracted her attention was Francis Drake. From a large, well-connected family, he went to sea early and rose through the ranks. He quickly assumed command of his own vessel and started his attacks on Spanish shipping. The share that came to Elizabeth, attracted her praise and attention. He circumnavigated the world and helped to strengthen the English Navy.
Walter Raleigh, a young soldier who been in Elizabeth’s service for years, also came to Elizabeth’s attention. He was said to have spread his cloak in the mud so that she would not soil her slippers. He was knighted in 1585 and rose rapidly in Elizabeth’s favor. He was given rights to settle the New World and became very wealthy due to her patronage.
But Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary Stuart the Queen of the Scots, was restive and scheming in her English prison and Spain was her biggest supporter. Next week, the passing of an age. Til then, I’m signing out as Rita Bay. Please, read on.
I’m so excited!! Tomorrow, I launch my new WordPress blog. Of course, I’ll always do Moondays with my Sizzler sisters but Rita Bay’s Blog will feature daily posts on history and culture that you won’t find in a history book. The post titles–Sunday’s Storytellers, Monday’s Myths & Legends. Tuesday’s Gems, Wednesday’s Worthy Words, Thursday’s Risque Ripostes & Prurient Pics, Friday’s Medicine & Magic, and Saturday’s Seconds –tell part of the story.
This February, we salute the Presidents–Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln. In March, we salute Americana. Posts topics include Washington’s Distillery (tomorrow), Jefferson’s recipe for ice cream, and tales of Lincoln’s Mad Stone and his meeting with Princess Salm-Salm. There’ll also be eyewitness accounts of Jackson’s duels and Washington’s and Lincoln’s last hours. Check out the full schedule at http://ritabay.wordpress.com/ See you there, Rita Bay
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