407 years ago today, on the 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died, leaving a shocked and grief-stricken country. Many of the English people had only ever known Elizabeth I as their queen, for she had reigned over England for over 44 years.
I have written about Elizabeth I’s death and funeral over at the Elizabeth Files – see “The Death of Elizabeth I”, but here at the Anne Boleyn Files I want to spend today thinking of Elizabeth as Anne Boleyn’s greatest legacy – the daughter who was never meant to be a monarch, the daughter who Henry discounted when she was born in his obsession for a son, the daughter who had to rise above her illegitimacy and the stigma of having a convicted traitor as a mother…the daughter who became one of the greatest monarchs that England has ever had.
In the fictional account of Anne Boleyn’s life, in “Anne of the Thousand Days”, Anne says to Henry VIII:-
“Elizabeth shall be a greater queen than any king of yours! She shall rule a greater England than you could ever have built! Yes – MY Elizabeth SHALL BE QUEEN! And my blood will have been well spent!”
and although we know that this scene could never have happened, because there is no record of Henry VIII visiting Anne Boleyn in the Tower, I so wish that it had happened. It shows Anne’s spirit, don’t you think?
I don’t actually believe that Anne Boleyn ever thought that Elizabeth would be queen, as she knew and understood Henry VIII’s need for a son, but her submissive speech at her execution, which followed the usual and expected formula of execution speeches, speaks volumes of her love for her daughter, in that she wanted to protect her. Gone was the hot tempered, reckless woman who could so easily have used this last opportunity, this last public forum, to lash out at the King who had cast her aside and framed her, and in her place stood a mother who would do anything to protect her child.
I have said in the past that it is easy for people to look at Elizabeth I, her reign and achievements, and say that she was her father’s daughter, a chip off the old block, but although she probably did not remember her mother and had many other powerful female influences in her life, I see her as Anne Boleyn’s daughter too. Her charm, her magnetism, her wit, her intelligence and the way that she could wrap her advisers round her little finger, even when they were cross with her for procrastinating, shows a little of Anne – wouldn’t you agree.
You can read more of my thoughts about Anne Boleyn as mother and her influence on Elizabeth in the following articles:-
- Anne Boleyn: The Mother
- Anne Boleyn’s Influence on Elizabeth I – Part 1
- Anne Boleyn’s Influence on Elizabeth I – Part 2
Today, I will pause for a moment and think of Queen Elizabeth I, the iconic Gloriana and Virgin Queen, may she rest in peace.