historical heroes; Elizabeth Tudor
Nicknames; possibly “Bessie” or “Bess” as a child; “the Virgin Queen,” “Gloriana,” “Good Queen Bess”
Claim(s) to fame; Queen of England, called the Virgin Queen because she never married; reshaped the Church of England; defeated the Spanish Armada
Why she’s on this list; Elizabeth rocks for many of the same reasons her mother did, but she was able to use those skills successfully and powerfully because she ruled in her own right. She was, frankly, a badass. Even as a child, she was highly intelligent. After suffering the loss of her mother at a very early age and being delegitimized, Elizabeth also had to learn to handle herself carefully at court. She endured four stepmothers, a father who would doubtless have preferred to simply forget her, weathered Thomas Seymour’s inappropriate affections as a young woman, and survived through her sister Mary’s particularly brutal reign – during which she was even imprisoned in the Tower – with poise and self-control and ultimately became Queen at twenty-five. She used her charm and wit to rule remarkably fairly and strongly, for a woman. She was religiously tolerant and helped redefine the Church of England, patronized the arts and oversaw the English Renaissance. She also famously defeated the Spanish Armada. She refused to marry and relinquish her power to a man, and she did some unsavory things, such as order the execution of her cousin Mary Stuart, to protect her throne, but was ultimately popular for the majority of her reign. The Elizabethan Era came to be known as the “Golden Age.” The first English colony in North America, Virginia, was named for her shortly after her death. She was a powerful, competent, confident, strong-minded woman. She was born out of Henry VIII’s desire for a son, but ironically, she was his great heir.
Favorite quotes; “How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?”
“I will have here but one mistress and no master.”
“I would not open windows into men’s souls.”
Fun facts; Though Elizabeth allegedly never spoke of her “traitor” mother, Anne Boleyn, a ring was removed from her finger after her death containing the portraits of two women: Elizabeth herself, and a woman thought to be Anne.