24 March 1603 – The Death of Queen Elizabeth I

Posted By on March 24, 2015

The Death of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, by Paul Delaroche

The Death of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, by Paul Delaroche

In the early hours of 24th March 1603, after a reign of 44 years and 127 days, Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace at the age of sixty-nine.

You can read all about her death, including a primary source account, in my article 24 March 1603 – Death of Elizabeth I and you read more about her final days over in an article on The Elizabeth Files – click here and another one on The Tudor Society.

Here are some Elizabeth I facts and trivia:

  • Elizabeth was born on the 7th September 1533 at Greenwich Palace and was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
  • “Nicknames” for Elizabeth I include “The Virgin Queen”, “Good Queen Bess” and “Gloriana”.
  • Elizabeth herself gave nicknames to people she loved and trusted – She called William Cecil her “Spirit”, Sir Francis Walsingham her “Moor”, Robert Dudley her “eyes”, the Earl of Oxford her “boar”, François, Duke of Alençon, her “frog” and Sir Christopher Hatton her “mouton”.
  • Elizabeth I never married, although she had a number of suitors, and thought of herself as married to her country and the mother of her subjects.
  • Elizabeth I’s funeral took place on 28th April 1603 and she was buried at Westminster Abbey.
  • Her motto was Semper Eadem, meaning “Always the Same”.
  • Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a time in Mary I’s reign for suspected involvement in Wyatt’s rebellion. She thought she would be executed.
  • Elizabeth I became queen at the age of 25 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 15th January 1559.
  • Elizabeth I’s skin became badly scarred by smallpox after she suffered from the disease in 1562. She covered these scars with a face paint of white lead and vinegar.
  • Her favourite dress colours were white and black which symbolised purity.
  • Although she rarely spoke of her mother Anne Boleyn, she made use of Anne’s falcon badge on several occasions and Anne may well be depicted in the miniature portrait in Elizabeth I’s locket ring.

And what about her achievements?

Elizabeth IAlthough some historians now challenge the idea that Elizabeth I’s reign was in fact a “Golden Age”, Elizabeth’s list of achievements is still very significant:

  • Becoming queen in the first place.
  • Defeating the Spanish Armada
  • Carrying on her father’s work with the Navy and making England a strong naval power
  • Defending England from the Scots and turning Scotland into an ally
  • Increasing literacy
  • Expanding England overseas
  • Founding the Church of England as we know it today through her religious settlement
  • Raising the status of England abroad
  • Surviving and defeating the plots and revolts against her
  • Helping the poor
  • Ruling as Queen in her own right
  • Her promotion of the arts
  • Turning England round from a poor country riddled with problems to a strong and prosperous country
  • Her patronage of science and the Renaissance way of thinking
  • Her ability to pick excellent advisers like William Cecil
  • Her understanding that a monarch needed to work with advisers and Parliament, to be able to rule successfully
  • Showing the public and other countries that a woman could rule successfully without a man by her side

Can you add to that list?

What do you think of Elizabeth and her reign?

15 thoughts on “24 March 1603 – The Death of Queen Elizabeth I”

  1. Gail Marion says:

    I’ll add to your list of Elizabeth’s achievements –

    . She steered the country away from war

  2. Kari Schrecengost says:

    She is my favorite historical figure of all time. She was her fathers daughter and through hardships and close calls she endured, and in my book is one of the greatest English monarchs. I sometimes think Anne Boleyn in the end though unfairly treated and accused got the best revenge on Henry, her daughter became the most powerful woman and ruler of England

  3. Jim Hesse says:

    The Queen’s death date was very likely the most important date in Shakespeare’s life as a mountain of doubt surrounded him as to the future of theatre and remained until James I announced The Kingsmen. After that, the Bard’s plays became darker & more serious…

  4. Banditqueen says:

    Little man, little man, can’t is not a word to use to princes. What a turn of phrase to say even though she was dying. She certainly remained in charge to the last, annoyingly for those outside waiting to ride to James in Scotland.

  5. Rowan says:

    One of my favourite pictures of Elizabeth is this allegorical portrait of Elizabeth in old age, from some time after 1620:


    However, I’ve not seen the original, and most reproductions make it cleaner and brighter, like this:


  6. Christine says:

    Sixty nine wasn’t particularly old not even in Tudor times as there are records of people living in their eighties but she was the longest lived of all Henrys children.

  7. Cecelia says:

    Elizabeth embarked upon a terrible war – the so called Tudor Reconquest of Ireland. During the 100 years war in France the English never had more than 15,000 troops there – it took 30,000 troops to “reconquer” Ireland. The exchequer was virtually bankrupt by the war and it was finally halted when she died.

    This 12 years war included the horrific Munster Plantation – which required the total destruction of what was the midsection of the old Kingdom of Munster known as Ormonde. Historians today estimate some 30,000 people were killed and an area of three counties utterly decimated. The practice of beheading Irish men women and children so as to collect a bounty was begun during this attempt at plantation.

    Look it up – it will change your view of the Good Queen Bess.

    Personally I think the one good thing she did was in her private chapel at St. James she continued the old style of worship and allowed a Catholic – Thomas Tallis – to compose her sacred music. Tallis is certainly one of England’s greatest composers perhaps the best. She also hired William Byrd another Catholic as a singer and composer for her chapel. You can hear some of their magnificent music and the story of their surprising relationship with Elizabeth I on YouTube Episode 3 BBC’s “Sacred Music”.

    1. Rob says:

      I did look it up and I STILL LOVE HER!

  8. Cora says:

    She is absolutely my favourite historical person. I have a huge number of books on her life and reign. To me she proved long, long before our time the abilities of an intelligent woman. She had strength both physically and of character. She refused to rule not with her heart as much as with her head. She was a political animal, she knew her cousellors and used their intelligence coupled with her own to make sound decisions. She was totally devoted to her country and her people. There isn’t enough good things in my opinion that could ever be said of this woman that I idolize and look upon even in today’s world as a shining example of female accomplishments.

  9. Di says:

    Have you heard of Jonas Wheeler (c.1543 – 1640) who was chaplain to Queen Elizabeth 1 & King James? Do you know if there is a record anywhere of the appointment of royal chaplains and how they came to be appointed?

    1. Stephen Rogers says:

      I’ve read about him in my family tree as he was an uncle 12 times removed.

  10. Annette Hulett says:

    I have just left a message on here about queen Elizabeth being a man but now can’t find it. Typical of me.
    I’ll tyr to find it again!

  11. Annette Hulett says:

    The comment was on the page of that ghost of Caroline.
    How do I find that please?

  12. Banditqueen says:

    Elizabeth was a man and Anne Boleyn had a daughter called Caroline and a weird ghost story. What was this weird week?

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