1. Elizabeth presented herself as strong and capable
Spanish ambassador, Count of Feria, noted as early as December 1558 that Elizabeth was ‘incomparably more feared than her sister and gives orders and has her way as absolutely as her father did.’
Elizabeth was keen to reinforce the message that she was her father’s daughter, telling Parliament in 159 that ‘we hope to rule, govern and keep this our realm in as good justice, peace and rest, in likewise as the king my father held you in.’
Clearly, Elizabeth intended to govern in line with the popular image of her robust and ruthless father, Henry Viii.
2. Why did Elizabeth have to assert herself so strongly and decisively?
She had to overcome prejudice against female rulers- which had been reinforced by the disaster of the later stages of Mary’s reign.
Also, she had to overcome he popular stereotype of women, which emphasised the physical, intellectual and emotional inferiority to men.
Even as devoted a servant as William Cecil was occasionally annoyed by what he perceived to be her feminine weakness. He moaned in 1560, for example, that a diplomatic dispatch from Paris was ‘too much for a woman’s knowledge’.
3. Elizabeth I, as Queen, enjoyed the prerogative powers of the Crown
Calling, proroguing (the right of the monarch to suspend parliamentary sessions until further notice) and dissolving Parliament
Declaring war and making peace
Appointing and dismissing ministers and judges
Determining the monarch’s own marriage and naming a successor
4. Elizabeth defended her rights robustly; they remained key issues throughout the reign
Parliament: Marriage and Succession VS. Elizabeth’s refusal
She was first urged to name a successor during the 1559 Parliament. The lack of a named successor seemed particularly acute in 1562 when Elizabeth became dangerously ill from smallpox.
In the early stages of her reign there were two possible successors.
According to Henry VIII’s will, which the Queen had the power to set aside, the succession should have passed to Lady Catherine Grey, younger sister of Jane Grey. From the point of view of Elizabeth’s ministers, Catherine had the advantage of being a Protestant. Unfortunately for Catherine, that was the only advantage she possessed. Elizabeth had little time for her relative whom she imprisoned in the Tower in 1561 after her secret marriage to the Earl of Hertford.
The strongest claimant on dynastic grounds was Mary, Queen of Scots- the granddaughter of Henry VIIIs sister Margaret. The possibility of Mary’s succession alarmed many of Elizabeth’s ministers, on account of her Catholicism and her close connection with the French court.
In these circumstances, therefore, it was understandable that the Privy Council should have urged marriage on the Queen. The Council’s tactic was to petition Elizabeth to marry and, when that failed, to use Parliament as a means of raining public concern about the succession.
In 1563 both Houses of Parliament petitioned the Queen to marry; the Queen responded by saying she had vowed to remain unmarried but she would settle the succession…