Chapter One: Young Elizabeth

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Chapter One: Young Elizabeth

Story of Young Elizabeth

Elizabeth was born on 7 September 1533. Her childhood was not happy. She was two years old when her mother, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded. She spent most of her early life at Hatfield House, away from her father, King Henry VIII.

However, Henry wanted his daughter to have the best education. Roger Ascham, a great scholar and humanist①, was Elizabeth’s private teacher. She was very intelligent, witty② and enjoyed learning. She could read, write and speak Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian and Welsh fluently③.

Elizabeth loved riding horses, hunting and dancing. Like her father, she had a talent for music and played the lute and the virginals. Unlike her father, she was very thrifty④ and did not like spending money.

Elizabeth wasn’t beautiful but she was elegant. She was thin, of medium height and very vain⑤. She had red hair, expressive eyes and lovely hands.

When Henry VIII died in 1547, Edward VI became King at the age of nine. But his reign was short. He died of tuberculosis⑥ when he was only fifteen. In 1553 his half-sister Mary (Catherine of Aragon’s daughter) became Queen. Her mother was a Catholic and she wanted England to be a Catholic country again. Protestants were persecuted⑦ and almost 300 were killed. For this reason she was also known as “Bloody Mary”. Young Elizabeth was in danger because she was a Protestant and was very popular with the people.

① humanist: 人文主义者。
② witty: 风趣的。
③ fluently: 流利地。
④ thrifty: 节俭的。
⑤ vain: 自视过高的。
⑥ tuberculosis: 肺结核病。
⑦ persecuted: 受迫害。

Queen Mary thought Elizabeth plotted① against her and imprisoned her in the Tower of London in 1554. Elizabeth never forgot this terrible experience. After two months Mary freed her. On the night of 17 November 1558 Queen Mary died. The bells of London rang and everyone celebrated: young Elizabeth was the new Queen!

Elizabeth became Queen at the age of 25. Like others of her time Elizabeth believed in astrology②. Her astrologer was John Dee, a famous astronomer. He chose the best day for her coronation ceremony: 15 January 1559.

Elizabeth was loved by the people but she was still in danger. The Kings of France and Spain wanted to invade England and bring back the Catholic faith. The young Queen was alert, clever and prudent③. She carefully chose advisers who were honest, loyal and experienced.

William Cecil was Elizabeth’s Secretary of State④ and her most important minister. He was her dear friend and she trusted him completely. Cecil served her for 40 years! Elizabeth was very wise to choose Matthew Parker as Archbishop⑤ of Canterbury. He established a moderate Church of England and created a compromise⑥ between Catholics and extreme Protestants.
She also chose Lord Robert Dudley to be part of her court. He was her childhood friend and sweetheart, and remained one of her favorites for many years.

① plotted: 密谋。
② astrology: 占星术。
③ prudent: 审慎的。
④ Secretary of State: 大臣。
⑤ Archbishop: 大主教。
⑥ compromise: 妥协。

Elizabeth was a strong ruler. England was now a Protestant country. The Act of Supremacy made her Head of the Church of England. All priests had to use the Book of Common Prayer.
The Queen liked meeting her people and was always kind to the old and the sick. She and her court frequently went on tours, or “progresses”, around the country to visit noble subjects. It was an honor to be part of a royal tour. However, the cost of entertaining① the Queen and her court was astronomical② and several nobles went bankrupt③!

① entertaining: 娱乐。
② astronomical: 庞大的。
③ went bankrupt: 破产。

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