Issues with Elizabeth's Succession



To inherit the throne, the monarch must be born whilst the reigning king and queen are married.

Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn (Elizabeth's mother).

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, refused to grant permission for the divorce.

Henry VIII created the Church of England seperate from the Roman Catholics and granted himself a divorce.

Henry married Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth was born.

Some catholics refused to acknowledge the divorce and some were even executed.

When Anne Boleyn was executed Henry VIII said that Elizabeth was illegitimate but he later reversed his decision.

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Elizabeth was a woman and ruled in her own right which is very unusual in the 16th Century.

The Christian religion taught that women whould be under the authority of men.

Also, monarchs were supposed to lead there army into battle which extraordinary for a woman.

Woman were considered, by the majority, neither physically, mentally or emotionally capable or adequate for ruling.

This belief was justified when Elizabeth's elder sister (England's first Queen regnant) had done a bad job of her short reign.

It was very unusual for a woman to be in the position of power and even in the home the husband was in control.

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Many people thought that Elizabeth should marry.

Elizabeth, however, did not want to and turned offers from the most eligible princes.

The majority of the people believed that woman were incapable of ruling (as said on gender card).


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Character and Strengths

Elizabeth was highly intelligent and well educated, with an eye for detail and an excellent grasp of politics.

She spoke Latin, Greek, French and Italian.

She understood the dangerous world of court politics, where courtiers planned to gain power and influence.

Elizabeth was confident and able to make great speeches and win over her subjects, though she had a temper that they feared.

She took a long time to make up her mind and her advisors found her very frustrating.

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Financial Weaknesses

English monarchs could not do whatever they liked.

They might have divine right from God but they need money and support to rule well.

Elizabeth's government did not have a lot of money because expensive wars had been fought before she inherited the throne.

When she took the throne, the Crown was £300,000 in debt and the total income was £286,667.

To be strong, Elizabeth had to  be wealthy. Defending England and her throne was expensive and taxes were unpopular and could only be raised with the approval of Parliament.

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The French Threat

France was wealthier than England - It was their traditional enemy and had formed the 'Auld Alliance' with their other enemy, Scotland.

The Scottish monarch was Elizabeth's cousin (Mary, Queen of Scots) and had a strong claim to England's throne. Mary's husband was also King of France!

Mary declared herself the legitimate Catholic claimant to England's throne.

Some French troops were stationed in Scotland and there was constant fightin along the hard to defend border.

Elizabeth also wanted to hold Calais again. It was an important aim of Elizabeth's foreign policy.

There was fear that the Catholic France and Spain might together fight England and it's Protestant Queen!

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