Elizabeth I: How successfully did she tackle the problems of her reign?

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Matthew Tang (08HT1)

Elizabeth I: How successfully did she tackle the problems of her reign?

Elizabeth I ruled England from 1558-1603. Like many other monarchs, she had to deal with many problems during her reign. The major ones were her image, marriage, religion, her cousin Mary Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada. Most of the problems were inter-linked. When she tried to solve one problem, she had to consider the others as well. In my opinion, Elizabeth was fairly successful in tackling the problems of her reign. In the following paragraphs, I shall discuss her problems and how she dealt with them in detail.

Elizabeth I ruled for 45 years. Throughout her reign, she faced the problem of maintaining a powerful image. When she was young, it was important for her to look strong to gain respect from her subjects. When she got old and weak, she needed to make people think that she was still strong and reliable. Historians say that Elizabeth was ugly with black teeth. Knowing this, she chose to use portraits to impress her subjects. The portraits depicted her as she wanted to be seen by her subjects and foreign powers, rather than how she herself actually looked. Many portraits of the Queen are instantly recognizable, for she is usually being painted wearing a crown, showing that she was the Queen. Like the "Ditchley portrait" which was painted when she was 59, Elizabeth I looked young in the picture. Her right hand is holding a fan, which represents England’s overseas expansion. Her left hand is holding a glove, which symbolises elegance. The thorn less rose symbolises the Virgin Mary. It suggested that Elizabeth, the virgin Queen, was married to the country in the same way that Mary was married to the church. I think Elizabeth was extremely successful in projecting a strong image. People think that they had a powerful and beautiful monarch, without suspecting that she was old and weak.

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Another problem that Elizabeth faced was that many people thought Elizabeth would not last long without a powerful husband and an heir. Everyone expected her to get married after she became queen, so that she had a husband to make decisions for her and an heir to secure the line of succession. Actually, Elizabeth received many marriage proposals from foreign rulers and English nobles. She could have married Philip II of Spain or Charles of Austria. But marrying a Catholic European ruler might drag the English into wars with other countries and annoyed Protestants at home. She could have ...

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