Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2486
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves (1515–1557) was the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. Henry married her for reasons of international diplomacy but soon found this to be politically ineffective. The marriage was annulled in 1540, after only six months.
Roger Ascham (1515–1568) was Elizabeth’s private tutor in Greek and Latin from 1548–1550. During Elizabeth’s reign, Ascham composed the queen’s official letters to foreign political leaders and tutored her in Greek.
Anthony Babington (1561–1586) was the leader of the attempted Babington Plot to murder Elizabeth I and place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. The plot was uncovered in 1586, when Sir Francis Walsingham intercepted letters between Babington and Mary Queen of Scots. Babington, along with six others, was executed for high treason. The discovery of letters between Mary and Babington implicated her in the conspiracy and led to her own execution.
See Queen Mary I
Anne Boleyn (1507–1536) was the second wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. Anne Boleyn was already pregnant with Elizabeth and secretly married to Henry VIII before his first marriage was officially annulled. When Elizabeth was only two years old, Henry VIII accused Anne Boleyn of adultery and had her tried and beheaded. Elizabeth did not learn of her mother’s fate until many years later.
James Bothwell (1535–1578) was the third husband of Mary Queen of Scots. Bothwell was suspected of plotting the murder of Mary’s second husband, Lord Henry Darnley, in 1567, by having his house blown up and strangling him to death. Mary married Bothwell soon after this suspicious murder and both were implicated. This scandal lead to a Scottish revolt against Mary, as a result of which she was forced to abdicate the throne. Bothwell was eventually imprisoned and died five years later.
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536) was the first wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Mary I of England. Henry VIII wished to annul this marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. However, the pope refused to issue the annulment, as a result of which Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church and procured the annulment through English clergy in 1533. This action led to the English Reformation. Catherine of Aragon lived out the rest of her life in material comfort but away from the public eye.
Baron Burghley William Cecil
William Cecil, Baron Burghley (1520–1598), was Elizabeth’s chief advisor in matters of state throughout most of her reign. He remained her most trusted advisor and a skillful politician who successfully coordinated the queen’s public image, foreign diplomacy, and domestic political struggles with Parliament.
Lord Henry Stewart Darnley
Lord Henry Stewart Darnley (1545–1567) was the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots. Darnley was murdered when his house was blown up and he was strangled to death. Mary and Bothwell, her husband-to-be, were implicated in the murder. A Scottish rebellion against the reign of Mary resulted from this suspicion, and Mary was forced to abdicate the throne. Darnley’s son with Mary, James, eventually became King James VI of Scotland and later King James I of England.
Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex (1567–1601), was a favorite male companion to Queen Elizabeth in her later years, although he was some thirty-four years younger than she. Devereux was the stepson of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s closest male companion throughout most of her reign. Devereux was often impudent with the queen and not afraid to talk back to her. Once during an argument, Devereux turned his back to the queen and she slapped him in the face. In 1599, he was sent to put down a rebellion in Ireland but utterly failed in this military assignment. The queen punished him by removing his post and putting him under house arrest. In 1601, he attempted a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth by riding into London with some 200 to 300 supporters. However, he did not receive the popular support he expected, and the rebellion was quickly put down. Devereux was executed for treason.
John Dudley, First Earl of Warwick, First Duke of Northumberland John Dudley, first Earl of Warwick and first Duke of Northumberland (1502–1553), effectively ruled England from 1549 to 1553, during the reign of the child King Edward VI. In 1553, as Edward was dying, Dudley arranged the marriage between his son, Guildford Dudley, and Lady Jane Grey in a plan that placed Lady Jane Grey on the throne for nine days after Edward died. Supporters of Mary I deposed Lady Grey, and Dudley was executed.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (1532–1588), was Queen Elizabeth’s favorite male companion throughout most of her reign. Dudley maintained hopes that the queen would want to marry him, although she made it clear that she would never do so. Early in their relationship, Dudley was already married, but scandal broke out when in 1560 his wife was found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs with her neck broken. In 1578, Dudley secretly married another woman, although Elizabeth remained friendly with him even after she learned of this marriage. Throughout her reign, the queen’s advisors were worried that she might marry Dudley even though he was deemed an unsuitable match for royalty.
King Edward VI
King Edward VI (1537–1553) of England was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour (Henry’s third wife), and the half-brother of Elizabeth. Upon the death of Henry VIII, the nine-year old Edward ascended the throne. During his short reign, the country was ruled by a regency, who easily manipulated him. Edward died of tuberculosis.
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533–1603) was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth was only two years old, her mother was beheaded on the order of her father, although Elizabeth did not learn this until many years later. Elizabeth was kept in prison during the reign of her half-sister Mary I because Mary feared Elizabeth would plot to depose her. Upon Mary’s death, however, she named Elizabeth heir to the throne. Throughout Elizabeth’s reign, she was constantly faced with the threat of plots to murder her and place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. Elizabeth’s refusal to marry and produce an heir to the throne was a point of contention between her and her Parliament, as well as her citizens, throughout her reign. Elizabeth was an extremely popular queen and was masterful at creating a public image for herself, which placated the people’s concern about being ruled by a female monarch. The success of her reign was also aided by her closest political advisor, William Cecil, who helped to coordinate her domestic and foreign policy. Upon her death, King James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, was named as the heir to the English throne, making him King James I of England. Elizabeth was the last in the line of the house of Tudor, which had ruled England since 1485.
Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey (1537–1554) was forced against her will at the age of 15 to participate in a royal conspiracy. She was made to marry Lord Guildford Dudley and then placed on the throne as Queen of England after the death of Edward VI in 1553. Edward’s advisors, the father of Lady Jane and the father of Lord Dudley, had convinced Edward on his deathbed to name her his successor. However, popular opinion considered Mary (Elizabeth’s sister) the rightful heir to the throne, and rose up against Lady Jane after only nine days on the throne. Queen Mary I ordered the beheading of Lady Jane Grey, her husband, and her father for high treason.
King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII (1491–1547) was the king of England from 1509 to 1547, and the father of Edward VI, Elizabeth I, and Mary I. Henry VIII was married six times. His wives were Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catharine Parr. Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church started the English Reformation. Henry had wanted his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, but the pope refused to grant him the annulment. Henry thus arranged to have the marriage annulled by his own English clergy and to name himself head of the Anglican church. When Henry VIII died, he named his son Edward and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth as the line of succession to the throne.
Catherine Howard was the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. They were married in 1540, but the king soon learned of Catherine’s pre- and post-marital affairs. In 1542, Catherine was convicted of treason for marrying the king although ‘‘unchaste,’’ and was beheaded.
King James I
King James I (1566–1625) of England was the successor to Queen Elizabeth I. James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots and Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley. When James was only one year old, his mother was forced to abdicate the throne, and he was named King James VI of Scotland. James never saw his mother again. In 1582, James was kidnapped by a Protestant faction, but escaped his captors. Upon her death in 1603, James was named her heir to the English throne. James was the first of the Stuart dynasty to rule England. King James VI of Scotland See King James I
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots (1542–1587), also known as Mary Stuart, was Queen of Scotland from 1542–1567. Mary Queen of Scots posed a threat to Queen Elizabeth I of England throughout much of her reign. As Mary was Catholic and Elizabeth was Protestant, many considered Mary the rightful queen of England. During Elizabeth’s reign, many plots were uncovered which involved conspiracies to kill Elizabeth and place Mary on the English throne. Some of these plots involved the cooperation of France and Spain, both Catholic nations. Mary’s son James, by her second husband, the earl of Darnley, later became King James I of England. In 1567, Darnley was killed. Mary married Bothwell soon afterward, and both she and Bothwell were implicated in the murder. As a result, an uprising led to her forced abdication from the Scottish throne. Mary’s one-year old son James was then named King James VI of Scotland. Mary fled to England, but Elizabeth, recognizing her as a threat, kept Mary imprisoned for the next eighteen years. During this time, Mary participated in various conspiracies against Elizabeth. After the discovery of the Babington Plot to murder Elizabeth and place Mary on the English throne, Mary was sentenced to execution.
Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I of England (1516–1558), also known as Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary, was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the half-sister of Elizabeth I and Edward VI. Mary I was named heir to the throne at the age of thirty-seven, upon the death of Henry VIII in 1553. Mary I was Catholic, while Elizabeth was Protestant. Mary’s five-year reign was characterized by her harsh efforts to restore England to the Catholic Church. She earned the name Bloody Mary because of her policy of burning Protestants at the stake, often in large groups. During her reign, she ordered the burning of some 300 Protestants. Although she and Elizabeth had amicable relations during their childhood, Elizabeth came to represent a threat to the reign of Mary I. After a conspiracy against Mary was discovered, Elizabeth was forced to live in imprisonment and under various forms of house arrest, although she was never implicated in any plot. Upon her death in 1558, Elizabeth was named heir to the throne.
Catherine Parr (1512–1548) was the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII. She married Henry in 1543 and took all three of his children from his former wives under her wing. After the death of Henry VIII, Catherine Parr married Lord Thomas Seymour of Sudeley. She died after giving birth to a daughter by this marriage.
Robert Ridolfi (1531–1612), an Italian, was a key conspirator in the Ridolfi Plot of 1571, by which he hoped to effect the murder of Queen Elizabeth I, the invasion of England by Spain, and the ascendance of Mary Queen of Scots to the English throne. Because Ridolfi was abroad during the discovery of the plot, he avoided capture or punishment and safely returned to Florence, where he became a senator in 1600.
Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset
Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (1503–1552), was the brother of Jane Seymour, Henry’s VIII’s third wife, and of Thomas Seymour. He served as Protector of England for two-and-ahalf years during the reign of the child King Edward VI. Due to opposition to his policies by wealthy landowners, Somerset was accused of treason and executed in 1552.
Jane Seymour (1509–1537) was the third wife of Henry VIII and mother of King Edward VI. Ten days after the execution of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Henry were secretly married. She has the distinction of being the only wife of Henry VIII to bear him a living son. However, she died twelve days after the birth of Edward. After the death of Henry VIII, Jane’s two brothers, Edward Seymour and Thomas Seymour, became regents to the rule of the child king Edward VI.
Thomas Seymour (1508–1549) was the brother of Jane Seymour (Henry VIII’s third wife), and Edward Seymour. Thomas Seymour married Catherine Parr, the widow of Henry VIII, in 1547. Thomas Seymour wished to gain greater political power. After the death of Catherine Parr, he hoped to marry Elizabeth. He was arrested for conspiracy, and extensive questioning revealed that he had been sexually harassing the teenaged Elizabeth while she lived in his home under the care of his wife. Thomas Seymour was beheaded for treason, at the order of his own brother, Edward Seymour, protector of England during the reign of the child King Edward VI.
See King James I
See Mary Queen of Scots
Francis Throckmorton (1554–1584) was at the head of the Throckmorton Plot to depose Queen Elizabeth I and place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. In 1583, Elizabeth’s secretary, Francis Walsingham, uncovered the plot, which included plans for an invasion of England by France. Throckmorton confessed under torture and was executed.
See King Edward VI
See Queen Elizabeth I
See King Henry VIII
See Queen Mary I
Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham (1532–1590) was secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth I from 1573 until his death. From 1583, he was instrumental in uncovering plots against Elizabeth’s life by Catholics hoping to place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. Walsingham uncovered both the Throckmorton Plot and the Babington Plot, which led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
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