Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth Tudor



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Item Title: 
The Plimpton "Sieve" portrait of Queen Elizabeth I [graphic] / [George Gower]
Item Call Number: 
ART 246171 (framed)
Item Creator: 
Gower, George, ca. 1540-1596, artist.
Item Date: 

Queen Elizabeth I was born on September 7, 1533 in Greenwich. She died on March 24, 1603 in Richmond, Surrey after 45 years as queen.

Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. In 1536, Henry had Anne beheaded. One of the reasons he had her killed was because she did not give birth to a son. Henry wanted a son to replace him as king after his death.

Unlike most girls during her time who did not go to school, Elizabeth received a formal education. She studied subjects such as mathematics, history, geography, and astronomy. By the time she was queen, Elizabeth spoke Greek, French, Italian, and Latin.

In addition to her education, Elizabeth also learned to play several musical instruments. She also loved to dance, ride horses, and hunt.

As a princess, Elizabeth gave her family gifts of prayers and poems she had translated herself, written out in her own hand, and decorated with embroidered book covers. She was only eleven when she translated a poem from French into English.

In 1554, when her sister Mary was queen, Elizabeth was sent to the Tower of London as a prisoner. Mary believed that Elizabeth supported various plots to remove her from power.

Elizabeth became queen on November 17, 1558, the day her sister, Queen Mary, died. She was crowned two months later on January 15, 1559, in a coronation ceremony.

During her reign, England defeated the Spanish Armada. Because the Spanish navy was thought to be better than the British navy, this victory raised the status of England in Europe.

Queen Elizabeth never married. She is sometimes called "The Virgin Queen."




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Title page of The Merry Wives of Windsor
Item Title: 
[Merry wives of Windsor] A most pleasaunt and excellent conceited comedie, of Syr Iohn Falstaffe, and the merrie wiues of Windsor.
Item Call Number: 
STC 22299, A2r
Item Creator: 
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Item Date: 

Elizabeth I and Shakespeare

When Shakespeare was born in 1564, Elizabeth had been Queen of England for just 5 years. While most of his plays were written after her death, we do know she saw a few of Shakespeare's plays performed and that he performed at Court. We know she saw The Merry Wives of Windsor performed thanks to a published copy of the play proclaiming:

"As it hath been divers times Acted by the right Honorable my Lord Chamberlaines servants. Both before her Majestie, and else-where."

The Lord Chamberlain's servants was Shakespeare's acting troupe and Elizabeth is referenced by her title of "Majestie." 

Similarly, we know that Elizabeth saw a performance of Love's Labor's Lost because of the the play's title page stating:

"A pleasant conceited comedie called, Loues labors lost. As it vvas presented before her Highness this last Christmas. Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespeare."