Elizabeth the Great Characters
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...
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