17 November 1558 – Anne Boleyn’s daughter, Elizabeth, becomes queen


On 17th November 1558, Queen Mary I, daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, died at the age of forty-two. Mary left the throne to her half-sister, twenty-five-year-old Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

According to tradition, Elizabeth was reading under an oak tree in the parkland of her estate at Hatfield – although I have to say, knowing British weather, rather her than me! – when she received news of Mary’s death and her accession. Elizabeth sank to her knees and uttered in Latin a verse from Psalm 118, which translated to “This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvellous in our eyes”.

It is a wonderful story, and Cate Blanchett did an excellent job in that scene in the movie “Elizabeth”, although they show Elizabeth inside and then going outside to greet the councillors, which was far more sensible:

I’ve done two “on this day” videos about 17th November 1558, the second one giving an alternative account of Elizabeth’s speech on her accession:

And my Elizabeth I playlist:

I wonder how Elizabeth felt on that day in 1558? A mixture of grief and happiness? Relief? Victorious? Scared? Happy?

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