, 1596, attributed to Crispin van de Passe I. This lovely engraving is a typical example of its kind. Engravings of the queen often prefaced books, thus spreading her image into English homes and beyond England. Her phoenix and pelican devices are visible in this engraving.
Elizabeth Tudor is considered by many to be the greatest monarch in English history. When she became queen in 1558, she was twenty-five years old,a survivor of scandal and danger, and considered illegitimate by most Europeans. She inherited a bankrupt nation, torn by religious discord, a weakened pawn between the great powers of France and Spain. She was only the third queen to rule England in her own right; the other two examples, her cousin Lady Jane Grey and half-sister Mary I, were disastrous. Even her supporters believed her position dangerous and uncertain. Her only hope, they counseled, was to marry quickly and lean upon her husband for support. But Elizabeth had other ideas.
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The figure in the conspiracies that was to take Elizabeth's position as monarch was . After the suspicious death of her second husband, Lord Darnley, in 1566, Mary, along with the Earl of Bothwell whom she had grown very close to had been accused of assassinating the King. She was forced to leave Scotland and sought the protection of Elizabeth in England. During a nearly twenty-year stay, the former Queen of Scots was more than once suspected of conspiring to overthrow Elizabeth and become Queen of England, but Elizabeth long refused to have her executed. Only after her role in the Babington Plot was uncovered did Elizabeth allow her execution in 1587.
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She ruled alone for nearly half a century, lending her name to a glorious epoch in world history. She dazzled even her greatest enemies. Her sense of duty was admirable, though it came at great personal cost. She was committed above all else to preserving English peace and stability; her genuine love for her subjects was legendary. Only a few years after herdeath in 1603, they openly lamented her passing. In her greatest speech toParliament, she told them, 'I count the glory of my crown that I have reignedwith your love.' Five centuries later, the worldwide love affair with ElizabethTudor continues.
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, c1565, unknown artist / British school. This portrait is very interesting - an almost medieval composition dating from the first decade of Elizabeth's reign. The entire portrait - including the frame - is made from a single piece of wood. The queen's hair is pulled backand held by a jeweled caul in Italian fashion, and she holds a book in herleft hand. The book is reminiscent of the earliest-known portrait of Elizabeth,c.1546. The existence of this portrait was only discovered in 1994, whenit was made available for sale.
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Often considered by many historians as England's greatest monarch, Queen Elizabeth I ruled during an age that saw the expansion of the Britain (England and Wales with parts of Ireland, and united with Scotland upon her death) to North America through voyages of discovery by men such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. It witnessed the accomplishments of playwrights such as William Shakespeare and would change history by defeating the Spanish Armada. Although her reign saw many accomplishments that would soon make Great Britain one of the leading economic and military powers in the world, it was also made up of plots and assassinations that were intended for or falsely accused the queen and controversies, such as her claims of being a virgin and the amount of influence that her privy council had over her.
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, 1574, by Federico Zuccaro. This is a prepatory sketch for a full-length portrait. Zuccaro made a companion sketch of the queen's favorite courtier, Sir Robert Dudley. A phoenix and pelican are perchedon the columns behind the queen. Their symbolism is explained below, under'The Pelican Portrait' and 'The Phoenix Portrait'.