Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Death of Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I, c. 1600
On March 24, 1603 Queen Elizabeth of England died, after weeks of ill-health, struggling with deep melancholy. She refused to lie down but would remain standing for hours. It is interesting that in spite of her persecution of Catholics out of what she saw to be political expediency, the queen's personal religious inclinations tended to be more Catholic than Protestant. Most Catholic sacramentals, such as relics, agnus deis and medals, were proscribed as being "papist superstitions." It is ironic that the queen in her fear of death took to fingering a gold amulet. It has been alleged that the gold piece was sent to the queen by an old Welsh woman with the promise that as long as Elizabeth wore it she would not die. Agnes Strickland, in her Lives of the Queens of England, claims that although there is no solid proof for the story of the Welsh woman, Elizabeth indeed wore the amulet around her neck. Her physical conditioned worsened, as did her emotional state, although she claimed she "knew of nothing in this world worthy of troubling her." In her last moments, when the Archbishop of Canterbury offered some prayers, she became more peaceful. Share

4 comments:

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Already knowing what today was, I was thinking of Elizabeth this morning. I recently read I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles and the ending was so sad when she was thinking back to all of the friends that had died before her - she must have been loath to leave her crown, but glad to go at the same time.

Gareth Russell said...

I was thinking of the same thing and I've been reading the diary of one of Elizabeth's courtiers, John Manningham. I thought it was an unbearably moving account of the Queen's death. I found the account of the Queen and the Archbishop very moving, but the last line of Manningham's account seemed to me the most lovely; pithy yet poignant... "She hath been in manner speechless for two days, very pensive and silent; since Shrovetide, sitting sometimes with her eyes fixed upon one object many hours together, yet she always had her perfect sense and memory, and yesterday signified by the lifting of her hand and eyes to Heaven, a sign which Dr. Parry entreated of her, that she believed that Faith which she had caused to be professed, and looked faithfully to be saved by Christ's merits and mercy... She took great delight in hearing prayers, would often at the name of Jesus lift up her hands and eyes to heaven. She would not hear the Archbishop speak of hope of her longer life, but when he prayed or spoke of Heaven, and those joys, she would hug his hand... It seems she might have lived if she would have used means; but she would not be persuaded, and princes must not be forced."

Ms. Lucy said...

I was thinking about just this earlier today, and then comes your post...Thanks:)

elena maria vidal said...

It is good that so many remember Queen Elizabeth on the day that she came before God. Let us join in praying for her soul.