The First Elizabeth: The Biography Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

Carolly Erickson's The First Elizabeth, a biography of Queen Elizabeth, covers a time from a few months before her birth to her death on March 23rd, 1603. It begins by describing the marriage of her parents and later the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. It describes Elizabeth's childhood: specifically her upbringing and relationship with those close around her, such as Kat Ashley, Tomas Seymour, and Mary, her sister. After she becomes queen, Erickson describes in particular the issues of her reign. She discusses Elizabeth's marriage situation, the conditions of the court and state, and her foreign dealings. The impression that Erickson leaves us of Elizabeth is that inside her court she is a very manipulative, vain, hot tempered woman who refuses to be controlled, but when it comes to her subjects she is caring and wants to act in their best interests. Erickson spends a large part of the book describing Elizabeth's childhood. She is described as a tall young girl with red hair, milky white skin, a clear complexion, and long fingers. Elizabeth's upbringing was very much like that of an aristocratic girl described by Margaret King in Women of the Renaissance. Elizabeth was taught "filial duty, submissive self- restraint, self-improving pastimes [needlework], the solid beginnings of a classical education . . . and habits of religious devotion." (48) But Elizabeth was much more advanced in her humanist education than most women were. She had several important relationships during these years. She became very close with Kat Ashley. She also was responsible for much of Elizabeth's early education. Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry the VIII, Elizabeth's father, encouraged her later education. Thomas Seymour who became the husband of Parr after Henry's death, supposedly courted Elizabeth, which caused her controversy. Towards Elizabeth's late teens and early twenties, she was on shaky grounds with her, then queen, sister Mary. Mary was not fond of her, particularly because of Anne Boleyn. She hated Anne, and therefore despised her sister. Elizabeth was also a threat to Mary, because of the Protestants who wanted the Catholic queen off of the throne. They saw Elizabeth as the answer and would create rebellions in her name. Elizabeth was eventually sent to the Tower for imprisonment for treason and conspiracy against Mary. After Mary died, Elizabeth was coronated as queen. Elizabeth's relationships with men were also plentiful at this time. Mary's husband Philip the II was considered a consummate for her, but they did not marry for she never married. She had a very long, very open affair with Robert Dudley. She was obviously in love with him for much if not all of her life. But his marriage to another woman and conspiring against her caused their relationship to turn very bitter. She was also very close to the Duke of Alençon, whom she nicknamed frog. They held very close correspondence, but that...

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