ACEO, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, watercolor and gouache, July 2007
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. She was three when her mother was executed, after which her title and her place in the succession was taken away and she was known as Lady Elizabeth. She lived with various governesses throughout her childhood. One in particular, Kat Ashley, would remain her friend for life. Elizabeth was very bright and intelligent and by her teens could speak and write six languages. When she was 14 she went to live with Katherine Parr, her fathers last wife, who had married Thomas Seymour after Henry's death. Elizabeth's half brother Edward had succeeded to the throne and as he was still a child his uncle, Seymour's brother Somerset, had taken the role of Lord Protector. A few months later Elizabeth was sent away by Katherine, upset at her husbands flirtatious and inappropriate behaviour towards Elizabeth and the relationship that seemed to have developed between them. Katherine died later that year. Six months later, after a failed attempt to kidnap the young King, Seymour was arrested. It was believed for a while that Elizabeth was involved in the plot and had encouraged Seymour with ideas of marriage, but she was eventually found innocent. Seymour was executed. Edward died in 1553, and a more dangerous time began for Elizabeth. After the failure of the Grey plot to take the throne, Elizabeth's elder sister Mary was crowned Queen. Mary was a devout Catholic - Elizabeth was Protestant. While they appear to have had a good relationship, the question of religion was a difficult one. Mary agreed to marry Philip of Spain, another Catholic monarch. The unrest caused by this resulted in Wyatt's Rebellion. Although the rebellion failed it led to Jane Greys execution and also Elizabeth's arrest and imprisonment in the Tower, as she was believed to have been involved. However, although some called for her execution, Mary refused to go along with the idea and Elizabeth was released after two months. She was urged by Mary to convert to Catholicism. Mary began to persecute Protestants and became known as Bloody Mary. Elizabeth never converted but put on enough of a show of trying to to keep her safe. Mary died in 1558, leaving Elizabeth as the heir to the throne.
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