On this day in history, 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, died at Richmond Palace at the age of 69. She was the third of Henry’s children to be monarch but reigned for far longer than her siblings, ruling for 44 years and 127 days.

Diarist John Manningham recorded the moment of her death:-

“This morning, about three o’clock her Majesty departed from this life, mildly like a lamb, easily like a ripe apple from a tree… Dr Parry told me he was present, and sent his prayers before her soul; and I doubt not but she is amongst the royal saints in heaven in eternal joys.”

Although some historians question whether her reign was really “The Golden Age”, there is no denying that it made a huge impact on English history. Elizabeth I – Gloriana, the Virgin Queen and Good Queen Bess – daughter of the infamous Anne Boleyn, was one of England’s greatest monarchs and was her mother’s greatest legacy. Anne Boleyn would have been proud of her daughter.

You can read all about Elizabeth I’s death in my articles Elizabeth I’s Death 24 March 1603 and The Death of Elizabeth I, but you can also read about Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I in the following articles:-

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11 thoughts on “Elizabeth I’s Death – 24 March 1603”
    1. Claire, I’m wondering.. Apart from James, who else was a “candidate’ to inherit the realm from Elizabeth? Why do you think she chose James?

  1. James was chosen because he was descended from Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister, who married the King of Scotland, James V. I wonder also if it was also because Elizabeth felt she owed a debt to Mary Stuart – we know she fought a long time against executing Mary and affected to be very angry when it happened.

  2. There were others with claims to the throne: Arbella Stuart, for example, was also descended from Henry’s older sister Margaret, and she was born in England (some thought that Mary Queen of Scots and James were both disqualified due to their being Scottish), and, the sons of Lady Catherine Grey were alive (and the declaration of illegitimacy could be reversed). Elizabeth was a confirmed monarchist … which gave the throne to the Stuarts (both Mary and James), under primogeniture. Henry VIII’s will, which gave the throne to the Greys, was abandoned after Mary’s execution … since James was Protestant, the will was no longer needed to prevent a Catholic ruler.

  3. A sad day for the country and her people at that time
    There maybe some who do not agree that her reign was a ‘Golden Age’, and maybe some see her her reign throught rose-tinted glasses, but theres no denying that she proved that a woman could reign strongly and sucessfully over a long period of time, too. She had many troubles and great problems to face and overcome during the time on the throne, but there were in any reign.
    So really it was a Golden age in the respect that she was the first Queen to last that long, and do a better job of it than a lot of the Kings that went before her. Respect to the Lady!!
    Elizabeth and her mum would have so much to smile about where ever they are now, that ‘told you so’ smirk I bet. Even ole’ Henry must be proud on the quite…. 🙂

  4. Well said Dawn. She was an amazing, strong woman, ahead of her time and a fantastic role model. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. God rest both their souls.

  5. I agere with Esther again. I must point out that even though Mary, Queen of Scots, and James the VI of Scotland were the closest and most likely under the Act of Sucession. Mary, Queen of Scots, who had been Queen of France for a very long time, ended up leaving her son behind when she left Scotland in rags so no one recognize her by boat, and was held prisoner in England for 19 years (She constantly had sceems against Elizabeth, but she was the only one who recognized Mary as being an annointed Queen just kept her locked up in very luxious palaces and would never put her in Woodstock, as her sister Mary had her put during her reign. It wasn’ until the Babbington Plot of 1587, that really did it). James VI of Scotland was baby when his moter escaped and was raised a Protestant by such leaders of the Presyterian Chuch, John Knox, who had been under the tutelage of the great master John Calviin himself. By the time Mary was executed wearing the scarlet red color of martyrdom of the Roman Catholic Church, he was reported as hating his mother. What really knocked the other descendants of Henry VIII’s Act, Mary was favored, Lady Jane Grey put an end to that, as Elizabeth herself had ridden “joyfully” into London with Mary I to claim her crown that she was upholding the Act herself. So Elizabeth did, as always appoint the most natural succesor to her throne. James VI of Scotland also became James I of England and united both England and Scotland and is most commonly known as James I today.

    I would write a lot more, but it would take a book like Eric Ive’s or Claires Ridways’ book, book to explain her reasons. At her deathbed Elizabeth was lying in pillows as she was afraid that if she lie in her bed she would most certainly die, as she was scared of dying to the utmost degree. The way she named James her successor was by a signal from her hand, as she had lost her speech, and she was being asked over and over if it should be James, and she showed one, if not her last moves, to signal that. She died like the great Queen that she died with the courage of her mother. Even to the end she thought she would be beaten by the odds. Thank you! WilesWales!

  6. Elizabeth was very clever. She steadfastly refused to name anyone her successor to prevent the opposition from rallying behind another candidate. James VI knew very well that he he came to the English throne through his mother, even though Mary Queen of Scots was executed, in the end, it is her line which continued on the throne, through her Grandmother, Margaret Tudor. James must have thought this important, otherwise, he would have never exhumed his mother and had her buried in Westminster Abbey with a beautiful tomb. Elizabeth was very cagey about the other heirs, disinherited Catherine Grey and her sons, never considering Mary Grey, and running hot and cold on Arabella Stuart. Mary Tudor, as Duchess of Suffolk, had two daughters, Frances (mother of the Grey sisters) and Eleanor, who also had a daughter in line to the throne – Lady Margaret Clifford Stanley and then her granddaughter, Anne Stanley. If they had followed Henry’s will, with the Grey’s disinherited, Anne would have been on the throne.

  7. Even if James disliked Mary of Scots she was still his mother. Perhaps he had some feelings of guilt over the fact he did nothing to try to stop her execution or to revenge her afterwards. Or he may have thought that this had reflected badly on him and so put on a show of filial duty.

  8. Claire, I was honored to be a part of your book tour-It is truly wonderful to witness the great success you have earned after all of these years maintaining both The Anne Boleyn Files and The Elizabeth Files!

    I wanted to alert your loyal readers to my NEW feature-length article on BeingBess, which I suspect will be of great interest to them: “Death Could Not Separate Them: How Elizabeth I Connected to Her Deceased Mother.”

    In it, I answer the commonly asked question, “How did Elizabeth I feel about her mother, Anne Boleyn?”

    “Using a surprising amount of contemporary evidence and a little bit of conjecture based on fact, I believe I have arrived at a formed opinion on the matter, and I am excited to share it with my readers. Hopefully you will discover things here that you did not know before, and upon finishing the article, share with others how Queen Elizabeth I really felt about her mother, Queen Anne Boleyn.”

    This article not only includes information about Anne Boleyn’s necklace, (I have included a close-up image of the “A” pendant the young Elizabeth is wearing in the the “Family of King Henry VIII” portrait) and the Chequers ring, but MANY MORE surprising ties between Elizabeth and Anne.

    The Link:


    Ashlie Jensen of “BeingBess”
    “BeingBess” is dedicated to celebrating the life of Elizabeth Tudor (1533-1603) and the legacy of her reign as Queen of England (1558-1603).

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