Friday, September 7, 2012

On This Day in Elizabethan History: The Birth of Elizabeth Tudor, Future Queen Elizabeth I of England

The Palace of Greenwich in the Time of King Henry VIII. From Henry VIII: The King and His Court, by Alison Weir. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in history, 1533, Elizabeth Tudor was born at Greenwich Palace to her parents, King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn.

A composite image of King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn, parent's of the future Queen Elizabeth I. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

The Princess Elizabeth, who remarkably survived political danger and familial strife to become one of the most celebrated monarch's in history, was probably conceived in Calais, France. Calais had been an English territory since the medieval era and was a popular place for English and French diplomacy to occur. Anne Boleyn had recently been raised to the peerage in her own right as Marquess of Pembroke, in anticipation of her becoming the next Queen of England. King Henry wanted to show off his future wife and Queen consort in a public relations trip abroad.

A detail from a portrait from the 1530's or 1540's of King Francis I and his second wife, Eleanor of Austria. While King Francis rendezvoused with King Henry and Anne in Calais, Eleanor refused to attend. Eleanor was the sister of Charles V, and thus was loyal to Queen Catherine of Aragon and hostile to Anne Boleyn. Picture acquired via Flickr courtesy of Inor19.

 Upon doing the math, many historians have concluded that after over seven years, Anne and Henry consummated their relationship abroad, possibly after a secret wedding ceremony, and Elizabeth was the result of that consummation. Once Anne realized she was pregnant, it then became imperative for Henry VIII to receive his divorce as soon as possible. Their child, whom he believed to be a boy, must be legitimate. If their hadn't been a simple wedding ceremony before, their certainly was now. A solemn wedding was performed on January 25th at York Place, later re-christened as Whitehall Palace. Since King Henry had convinced himself that his first marriage was null and void, he did not believe he was entering into bigamy by marrying Anne.

Once the Act of Appeals formally separated England from Rome's authority, Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon was granted under English law by Archbishop Cranmer on May 23rd. Anne began to simultaneously prepare for her coronation and the arrival of her child. We know she took great care designing nurseries in the royal palaces, among them Eltham Palace.

The entrance to Eltham Palace, Greenwich. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

After Anne's coronation and the establishment of her household, she entered her confinement with her ladies on August 26th to prepare for the birth of her child. During this time, the excited father-to be consulted astrologers and became convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the child would be his long-hoped for heir. Naturally, the atrologers were no going to tell him otherwise!

Henry VIII had birth announcements drawn up for a prince, but on September 7th, 1533, two ss's would have to be hastily tacked on to the word ‘prince’, as a daughter was born.

The birth announcement for Princess Elizabeth Tudor, 1533. Picture acquired via Tumblr courtesy of LetThemGrumble. Image public domain.

That daughter was named Elizabeth, likely for her two grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard. Henry was very disappointed, but he still had hope that he and Anne would have sons, telling her,“You and I are both young, and by God’s grace, boys will follow.” 

On September 10th, Elizabeth was christened in grand finery at Greenwich, and though neither parent was in attendance, this was the common practice, and was not an indication of displeasure with the child’s gender. 

The Ditchley Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. By Marcus Gheeraerts, circa 1592. Commissioned by Elizabeth I's tournament champion Sir Henry Lee, the Ditchley is the largest surviving full-length portrait of the Queen. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

I would like to personally wish a Happy 479th Birthday to Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603).
Elizabeth Tudor inspires me on a daily basis, for which I am eternally grateful.
I will continue to teach others about her,
 and the importance of her legacy,
for the rest of my life.

Also, tomorrow is my friend Mia's debut of her Young Bess program! Mia could not do her presentation on Elizabeth I's birthday, as she had wanted to, because she is still in school, so she wisely chose the 8th because it is the next best thing.
Mia, her mom and I have become friends since we first met at my two of my BeingBess programs last March; I am so proud of all that Mia has accomplished, and I am looking forward to attending her performance!