Elizabeth I, revered by many as the greatest of the Tudor monarchs, was an unlikely queen. With the benefits (or myopia) of hindsight we know that Elizabeth reigned longer than any other Tudor monarch but her journey to the crown of England was long, dangerous and by no means certain. During the reigns of her half-siblings she found her position, and indeed her life, threatened through implication in two dangerous plots.
Elizabeth spent much of the first 25 years of her life at Hatfield House, including periods under house arrest during the 'Thomas Seymour scandal' in the reign of her brother Edward VI and again on the orders of her sister, Mary I, following the 'Wyatt Rebellion' during which she also spent time in the Tower of London.
Here landeth as true a subject, being prisoner as ever landed at these stairs…..I come in as no traitor but as true a woman to the Queen's Majesty as any as is now living; and thereon I will take my death".by Author
Her words had great effect on the Yeoman warders present who fell to their knees and swore "God preserve Your Grace!". Elizabeth may have presented herself eloquently but she was a woman fearing for her life. She spent eight terrifying weeks in the Bell Tower not knowing her sister's plans for her and fearing execution. Her father, Henry VIII, had sent her mother to the executioners block on Tower Green, not far from where Elizabeth was being kept. She was interrogated but she was clever and despite the best efforts of her interrogators they could not get her to admit to anything incriminating. Without evidence of any involvement in the plot, Mary could not have her executed.
Her experiences as a prisoner in the Tower had a lasting impact on Elizabeth, even after becoming Queen she would refer back to her time in the Tower.
Elizabeth's journey to the crown of England had been long and dangerous but it was no less dangerous once she became Queen. She was a protestant queen in a catholic Europe and many still wished for a return to catholicism in England. But that's a blog for another day…
This blog uses extracts the 'Elizabeth I - Prisoner to Queen' travel guide in my 'Follow in the Footsteps series, available on the website for £9.99.
The Follow in the Footsteps series is a fabulous virtual journey which you can also turn into a real life experience using the handy visitor information in the back.
Sources: http://www.elizabethfiles.com/the-execution-of-thomas-seymour/3719, Philippa Brewell research visits.