Henry VIII and Elizabeth I – The Lion and His Cub

Posted By on February 5, 2010

The Henry VIII we know

The Henry VIII we know

The research that I have been doing into Anne Boleyn’s pregnancies and her fall really got me thinking about Elizabeth I, who was the result of Anne’s first pregnancy. Henry VIII had high hopes for his marriage to Anne Boleyn and was expecting her to produce his longed for son and heir to the throne, and what did he get instead? A daughter and a dead son, miscarried at around 15 weeks. No-one can blame Henry for being bitterly disappointed, but it’s hard to forgive him for standing by while people plotted against his wife (or even being a part of the plot), and neglecting his young daughter.

I find it fascinating that Elizabeth could forgive her father and move on with her life and not become the bitter, twisted person that Mary became. David Starkey writes of how Mary “nailed herself to the cross of her mother’s memory” whereas Elizabeth did not seem to harbour any resentment at all and did not let it ruin her life. Perhaps we can’t compare Mary and Elizabeth – Elizabeth was so young when her mother died whereas Mary was a teenager when she saw her mother being cruelly treated and when she also was threatened by her father – but it could also be that Elizabeth was sensible and saw that she needed to get on with her life and not brood on the past.

Those of us who struggle to understand how Elizabeth could revere such a monster and tyrant perhaps need to look at Henry through Elizabeth’s eyes, rather than our own 21st century ones. We need to see Henry the father, the private man rather than the King. As David Starkey says:-

“her memory of her father, formed in these few years of the mid 1540s, was so benign: for her, he was not a wife-murdering monster, but a loving parent, formidable ruler and model to which she aspired.”

As Anne Boleyn fans, we like to look on Elizabeth as Anne Boleyn’s greatest legacy, Anne’s final revenge, and we cheer at Genevieve Bujold’s speech as Anne Boleyn in the Tower in the movie “Anne of the Thousand Days”:-

“But Elizabeth is yours. Watch her as she grows; she’s yours. She’s a Tudor! Get yourself a son off of that sweet, pale girl if you can – and hope that he will live! But Elizabeth shall reign after you! Yes, Elizabeth – child of Anne the Whore and Henry the Blood-Stained Lecher – shall be Queen! And remember this: 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!”

Read my article “Elizabeth I: Her Father’s Daughter and the Lion’s Cub” over at the Elizabeth Files to find out more about Henry VIII’s influence on Elizabeth and their realtionship.

6 thoughts on “Henry VIII and Elizabeth I – The Lion and His Cub”

  1. Carol says:

    I think certainly the fact that Mary was a teenager and would have been well aware what was happening when her beloved mother was treated so badly and then to find herself being threatened by her father. It could certainly have had a lasting psychological effect on her. Whereas Elizabeth was so young when her mother was executed (not even quite 3 years of age) she would have barely remembered her at all.

    Though for some reason even though the above factors could certainly have contributed to the different attitudes of the two girls. I feel that Elizabeth was a born survivor and Mary was of an altogether more pessimistic nature.

    IMaybe it was the combination of those Henry and Anne genes that made Elizabeth so special?

  2. julie b. says:

    I could hear Genevieve Bujold as I was reading that speech from the movie!
    I guess some of the qualities that Elizabeth inherited from her father were to her advantage. She was a strong woman, and that was necessary to be the wonderful queen that she was .I wonder how Anne could have been so sure that Elizabeth would be queen one day. What I mean is, especially in those days, life was not guaranteed. Anne seemed so sure that she was” happy to die” so that Elizabeth could be queen one day. There seems to be many circumstances that Elizabeth may not have been queen, ei, illness, execution, succession…
    I am glad for the outcome, but does anyone think Anne had any doubt?

  3. Angelina says:

    I agree that Elizabeth was her father’s daughter. I don’t think, either, that its fair to compare Elizabeth’s forgiveness of her father and Mary’s bitnerness. Mary was in her formative years, years when a girl needs her mother, when she lost Catherine, like you said. As much as I am very much agasisnt the burnings – my heart can’t help but break when I think of Mary I, and I feel so much pity for the woman. To be honest with you all, I think the one difference was Kat Ashley. Kat was protective and did what she could to see that Elizabeth had the love and nurtering she needed in the absence of her parents. I really don’t think Mary had that.

    As much as she had her Father in her, she was also Anne’s daughter. I agree with you, Clarie, she was the best mix of the two of them. Even before I knew who Anne was I adored Elizabeth.

    1. Kathy Swartz says:

      I think Elizabeth did honor her mother. She wore her ring with her Mother’s picture and her’s. She knew to keep her feelings about it to herself. I think she became such an educated young lady because she wanted to make her father happy. She loved her Father. I think that she did remember some things about her mother but she kept the feelings to herself. She was a very strong woman. I think Elizabeth was such a wonderful queen and Anne knew that about her daughter. I also believe that Elizabeth had alot of her mother in her as well as her father. It’s true that she had alot of people to help her. Kat Ashley was like a Mother to her and she was a relative of Anne Boleyn.

  4. mike says:

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