Her Early Life
Her Early Life
Elizabeth was born in 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
When she was three years old, her mother was put on trial for multiple sexual offences and high treason. She was found guilty and executed. Elizabeth was, to Henry, a constant reminder of Anne, and so she was packed off to a rather small and inconsequential manor to receive her education. She had hardly any contact with her father, and the general impression is that he wanted very little to do with her. After all, she was disinherited in 1537, and placed only the third in line to the throne in Henry's Will. It was likely that she would be a princess all her life.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth was well educated. She was taught by aristocratic governesses. There is evidence that she was a quick learner. Very early on in life she could speak and write in a number of languages including French and Latin.
Her religious education was undertaken by reformists, those in fact who had been close to Anne Boleyn. These ideas were strengthened when Elizabeth went to live with her stepmother Catherine Parr, towards whom she had grown very close. Catherine had reformist ideals, and she and her ideas made a large impact on the young princess.
The Seymour Affair
While living with Catherine Parr, Elizabeth had her taste of danger.
Catherine Parr had married Thomas Seymour, in a matter of months after Henry's death. Thomas was the younger, very jealous brother of the Protector, Edward Seymour. Thomas resented the fact that Edward had made such a position for himself on the premise that he was the King's uncle, and yet he had virtually nothing, and yet he also was the King's uncle.
Thomas flirted with Elizabeth. There is evidence that he would creep into her bedroom early in the mornings and tickle her while she was still in bed(!). He would also 'romp with her in the garden'. All these activities wentunnoticed by Catherine Parr, but not by Elizabeth's governess, who may well have encouraged Thomas.
Catherine Parr died in childbirth. Thomas vowed that he would marry Elizabeth. Elizabeth was not totally against the idea, but understanding the implications of her father's will, she knew that she had to have the consent of council, otherwise she would be disinherited.
Driven by jealous ambition, Thomas Seymour plotted to kidnap the King. He had apartments in the Royal Household, and so he thought, this should not be a difficult task. He did indeed enter the King's chamber late one night. An escapade in which the King was saved but his pet spaniel was killed.
Thomas was arrested, Elizabeth's governess testified to the 'frolics' and games that passed between Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour. Elizabeth was forced to be cross-examined by the council. She was on trial for her life.
Thomas Seymour was executed. Elizabeth was found innocent. Starkey claims that this was a 'turning point in her life' and that from this point onwards she would be aware that when a man had his eyes on her he was also seeing the throne of England.
During the reign of her sister, Mary, Elizabeth was implicated in another plot to overthrow the monarch. Thomas Wyatt raised a rebellion in Kent in protest to Mary's marriage to Prince Philip of Spain. There is talk of overthrowing the Queen. Thomas Wyatt certainly wrote to Elizabeth (there's no evidence to suggest that he received a reply).
Elizabeth was called to London, taken in through Traitor's Gate and imprisoned in the Tower of London. She spent 8 weeks in the Tower, and then a year under house arrest. Yet again, due to a lack of evidence, Elizabeth was released.