Young Folks' History of England HTML version

30. Elizabeth, A.D. 1558—1587
All through Queen Mary's time, her sister Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn's daughter,
had been in trouble. Those who held by Queen Mary, and maintained Henry's
first marriage, said that his wedding with Anne was no real one, and so that
Elizabeth ought not to reign; but then there was no one else to take in her
stead, except the young Queen Mary of Scotland, wife to the French dauphin.
All who wished for the Reformation, and dreaded Mary's persecutions had
hoped to see Elizabeth queen, and this had made Mary much afraid of her;
and she was so closely watched and guarded that once she even said she
wished she was a milkmaid, to be left in peace. While she had been in the
Tower she had made friends with another prisoner, Robert Dudley, brother to
the husband of Lady Jane Grey, and she continued to like him better than any
other person as long as he lived.
When Mary died, Elizabeth was twenty-five, and the English were mostly
willing to have her for their queen. She had read, thought, and learnt a great
deal; and she took care to have the advice of wise men, especially of the
great Thomas Cecil, whom she made Lord Burleigh, and kept as her adviser
as long as he lived. She did not always follow even his advice, however; but,
whenever she did, it was the better for her. She knew Robert Dudley was not
wise, so, though she was so fond of him, she never let him manage her
affairs for her. She would have wished to marry, but she knew her subjects
would think this disgraceful, so she only made him Earl of Leicester: and her
liking for him prevented her from ever bringing herself to accept any of the
foreign princes who were always making proposals to her. Unfortunately he
was not a good man, and did not make a good use of her favor, and he was
much disliked by all the queen's best friends.
She was very fond of making stately journeys through the country. All the
poor people ran to see her and admire her; but the noblemen who had to
entertain her were almost ruined, she brought so many people who ate so
much, and she expected such presents. These journeys were called
Progresses. The most famous was to Lord Leicester's castle of Kenilworth, but
he could quite afford it. He kept the clock's hands at twelve o'clock all the
time, that it might always seem to be dinner time!
Elizabeth wanted to keep the English Church a pure and true branch of the
Church, free of the mistakes that had crept in before her father's time. So she
restored the English Prayer-book, and cancelled all that Mary had done; the
people who had gone into exile returned, and all the Protestants abroad
reckoned her as on their side. But, on the other hand, the Pope would not
regard her as queen at all, and cut her and her country off from the Church,
while Mary of Scotland and her husband called themselves the true queen
and king of England; and such of the English as believed the Pope to have the
first right over the Church, held with him and Mary of Scotland. They were