23 July 2008

Famous People: Queen Elizabeth I

By Marianne LaCroix

"I may not be a lion, but I am a lion's cub, and I have a lion's heart." ~ Queen Elizabeth I

Instead of rewriting or summarizing the life of this fabulous and legendary Queen of England, I am going to list seven interesting (more personal) facts about her. The movies Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, touch on the more well known facts about her life, even though they are sensationalized by Hollywood.

1. Elizabeth was extremely fond of horseback riding. She'd spend many hours riding fast around the palace grounds much to the disapproval of her council. They feared she'd fall and kill herself by accident. Even through to her sixties, she'd tire her ladies in waiting and ride hard and fast. At the beginning of her reign, she had her Master of the Horse, Robert Dudley, import horses from Ireland because of their power and strength.

2. Elizabeth enjoyed watching tennis and one time disguised herself as one of her ladies in waiting to watch her friend Robert Dudley play a match.

3. Elizabeth loved music and dancing. She would dance the difficult and demanding dance, The Galliard, to keep fit. She enjoyed dancing with her courtiers and was fond of The Volta.

4. Elizabeth loved literature and poetry. She even wrote poetry. The following is one of those poems, and probably her best known:
On Monsieur's Departure

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.
5. Elizabeth followed fashion and often wore plain, simple gowns in private. However, for public appearances, she dressed to impress. Expensive clothes were a status symbol, and no one was allowed to outshine the Queen--especially not one of her ladies in waiting. There is a story of her anger at one of her ladies who dared wear a gown much too fine in rival to the Queen.

6. Elizabeth's gowns were made of fine fabrics and heavily embroidered with colored threads. Jewels like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies were also decorated the gowns. (Can you imagine the fuss when a jewel fell off the gown?)

7. Elizabeth wore little makeup in her early years. After a smallpox outbreak in 1562, she wore heavy makeup made of white lead and vinegar upon her face to hide her smallpox scars. She also wore rouge upon her lips and painted her cheeks with red dye and egg white. Of course, the lead in her makeup was not healthy and did slowly poison her through the years. She also wore many wigs as was fashionable at the time.

Research source: http://www.elizabethi.org/