Wednesday, August 05, 2009

19. Elizabeth I

After Henry 8 died, having founded his own church and kicked out the Pope, his successor Bloody Mary invited him right back in again, having fallen for the charms of Philip IV of Spain, who made it a condition of their marriage, which never happened. If she was anything like she was in the film "Lady Jane" it's hard to blame him.
Good Queen Bess came next and kicked the Pope out again. If you were at all religious in those days you wouldn't have known which way to turn from one monarch to the next... and of course everyone was, since no-one had yet thought of a credible origin for the world that didn't involve it being made by someone.

By all accounts Bess was a high-powered queen. The word "Elizabethan" still has about it a ring of glamour and adventure. A bit of an enigma as well... she's often referred to as 'The Virgin Queen' -though if you were a monarch and weren't getting your oats one would think that all it would take would be a discreet word to a desirable servant who wanted to keep his head attached to his shoulders even if he didn't fancy you. He'd have much the same motivation for not bragging about it afterwards.
On the other hand, any undesired consequences would be practically impossible to cover up and the thought of all the political problems it would cause would surely be enough to cool even the royal ardour.
Either way, she had enough of a reputation that one of the many explorers she no doubt charmed into impressing her by going off and conquering new lands - probably Drake or Raleigh - was inspired to name a big tract of land "Virginia" after that rather (one would think) personal detail. It's a bit like naming a planet "Fatty" after Patrick Moore.

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