This is a summary of the Article "Elizabeth I: Exception to the Rule" by Helen Castor in History Today. In the article, Castor analyzes the history of queens and queenship itself in medieval England. In this day and age it is very common to see a woman obtaining complete power, whether it be something as simple as choosing what she wears, to it being something as complex as making the final decisions in a successful corporation, which she happens to own. Woman as a whole have made tremendous leaps towards equality over the centuries and will continue to do so.
Having a female monarch seemed utterly unnatural in the 12th century and there was a harsh civil war due to Matilda's claim to the throne. Until the second half of the 16th century, England had been ruled by kings. The unexpected death of Edward VI in 1553 presented the opportunity for the crown to be passed to two queens, Mary Tudor also known as the infamous bloody Mary and Elizabeth I also known as the virgin queen.
In medieval England the power of the crown was male. A woman was categorized as incompetent to carry out the obligations of a king, such as upholding order within the kingdom and defending the country. A queen was meant to be the wife of a king and to exemplify the feminine aspects of law making and war, not his equivalent. This is the reason for Henry VIII's persistence to father a son to commence a memorable line of Tudor kings. Despite the absence of a law constraining a female from inheriting the crown as there was in France, Henry didn't consider that he may have left his thrown to a woman.
After the abrupt death of Louis X in 1316, it was determined that the king's brother, Phillip should succeed him, instead of his four-year-old daughter Joan. Joan was considered damaged goods due to her mother, Margaret of Burgundy, being imprisoned for adultery. This example of governance was later moved into the Salic Law, by which women were ostracized from either inheriting or passing on a claim to the French throne. In Castile the reign of the 12th-century Queen Urraca encouraged the accession to the throne of Queen Isabella three centuries later. Which aided Henry's rejected wife Catherine of Aragon, and also proving that her own daughter Mary was a deserving successor to the throne.
England's history as a country was not so encouraging. Instead of Matilda's claim to the throne resulting in England's first female monarch, it caused a 18 year civil war. Matilda's prerogative to the throne as the heir of her father, Henry I, were justified in the Treaty of Winchester that ended the war in 1135, but only through her son, who became king as Henry II. At the time male offsprings of royal woman could succeed the throne. Henry VII's claim to the throne depended upon a woman, his grandmother, the Lancastrian heiress, Margaret Beaufort.
Although Henry VIII had no intentions to die while his heir, Edward was still a child, he stood ready to succeed him, thanks to the finest education...