"Earlier today I made a vow to myself... As God is my witness, I shall never marry."
— Princess Elizabeth
Princess Elizabeth Tudor is the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She is portrayed by Irish actresses Kate Duggan in Season 2, Claire MacCauley in Season 3 and Laoise Murray in Season 4. She will eventually become Queen Elizabeth I and reign for 44 years, the last but greatest monarch of House Tudor.
Henry and Anne both loved their daughter dearly (despite hoping she would be a son) but Elizabeth only knew her mother for a short time; Anne met her death before Elizabeth was quite three years old. Anne Boleyn would reappear in a hallucination alongside Elizabeth before Henry's death, saying she was proud of Elizabeth's intelligence and boldness; Henry replied that he was proud of her too, but he avoided her sometimes because she reminded him too much of Anne.
Henry declared Elizabeth a bastard after he ended his marriage to Anne and executed her; he cut off the young princess's financial support, claiming that her mother had been a whore and denying that she was his child. However, in episode 3.03 at Christmas, Henry warmly reconciled with the four-year-old Elizabeth at the encouragement of his third queen Jane Seymour, and Elizabeth's sister Mary; she was not made heir to the throne, but like Mary she was restored to the royal line. She also had loving relationships with her later stepmothers Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr ; Katherine Howard also liked her, but Elizabeth secretly disliked Katherine as much as Mary did.
Elizabeth's personality is not shown to anything of the same degree as her older half-sister Mary, as she is first depicted as a newborn in episode 2.03 and as a little girl in most of Seasons 2 and 3; however, it is clear from Anne Boleyn's intelligence, ambition and boldness (traits that would characterize Elizabeth as Queen) that she takes strongly after her mother, as when she naively states to her sister Mary that she does not think boys should be preferred over girls. While Elizabeth has happy relationships with her half-siblings Mary and Edward, as well as her stepmothers, she remains emotionally distant from her father for most of the series.
In Season 4 when she is entering her early teens, her love of reading, dancing and languages (encouraged by her father, but traits she more likely got from her mother) is shown; she also has something of a mischevous streak, unlike her more religious and graceful elder sister. Henry, despite avoiding her frequently, looks at her with deep pride, despite her not being his heir to the throne. Elizabeth is better at concealing her true emotions than Mary, hiding her disdain of Katherine Howard almost perfectly. She is also shown to look after her little brother Prince Edward, and helps teach him Latin. When Catherine Parr becomes Queen consort, she decides to infuse her secretly Lutheran faith in Elizabeth as a tribute to Elizabeth's Protestant mother.
Elizabeth would later support her sister Mary in her successful bid for the Crown against Lady Jane Grey, but Mary distrusted Elizabeth because of her Protestantism (like her mother) and removed her from the line of succession, locking her in the Tower. However, when it was clear that Mary would have no children with her Spanish husband and she was on her deathbed, she restored Elizabeth to the line of successsion- setting the stage for Elizabeth's impressive 44-year reign, known as the Golden Age. Over the course of her long (and, for the most part, popular) reign, Elizabeth oversaw vast overseas trade expansion and exploration, the quelling of Spanish ambitions against England through a series of naval conflicts, the extension of the Tudor conquest of Ireland, the rise of England's theatrical arts (headed by William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe) and the re-establishment of Protestantism (in a more open-minded form than her father or brother's) after her sister's extremist Catholic reign. She accomplished all this despite multiple attempts to assasinate her, marry her off or prove she was not the legitimate Queen.
Henry had ran into considerable financial problems during the later part of his reign, and resorted to a practice known as "coin-clipping" in order to stay afloat, in which coins of pure gold and silver had bits shaved off, then melted down, mixed with inferior alloys, and re-minted as British currency. The ones most hurt by this were the lower classes as the peasants faced higher prices and it was harder for merchants to acquire goods and raw materials, sending England's economy into a tailspin. When Elizabeth assumed the throne, she made Sir Thomas Gresham her Minister of Finance, who warned her this trick of her father's was ruining her economy. Elizabeth, taking Gresham's advice, had all the corrupted money confiscated and reinstated the silver standard (coins of pure silver) as British money, hence the term "pound sterling", which led to a renewed, vibrant economy under her reign.
Despite the fact that England was in a period of decline during the final years of her rule, Elizabeth had paid all the debts her father and and brother had accumulated, and her death in 1603 was received with mourning throughout the country. She was ultimately succeeded by King James of Scotland, fusing Scotland with England and creating the nation of Britain. Elizabeth's reign caused Anne Boleyn to be venerated as a martyr of the Reformation, giving her mother a more positive legacy twenty years after her ignominious execution.
Elizabeth is first shown as a newborn infant when she is born at the end of episode 2.03. She is baptized in the next episode by her godfather Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and her maternal aunt Mary Boleyn. After her first few weeks in the royal palace she is bestowed with her own estate (Hatfield) and a staff of ladies to look after her- including her older half-sister, Mary, who has been declared illegitimate. Henry and Anne visit her often to dote on her; Anne wishes to breastfeed her herself, but Henry forbids it because of a stigma against queens nursing their children, especially daughters. Despite her hatred of Anne and the fact that Elizabeth has usurped her place in the royal line, Mary shows her baby sister nothing but affection in caring for her. As Elizabeth becomes a toddler and starts to speak, she is shown running about frequently. Anne and Henry are unable to spare as much time for her, but Anne always embraces her daughter emotionally when they visit, and Henry showers her with affection despite Elizabeth not being the son he wanted.However, at the end of the season Elizabeth- now nearly three years old- is declared a bastard like Mary and stripped of her royal titles and income when her mother is falsely convicted of adultery, and her marriage annulled. Henry questions whether she is even his child, which seems odd considering Elizabeth was the only one of his children who looked significantly like him. Her governess, Lady Margaret Bryan, harshly herds Elizabeth out of the house, hoping to protect her from Henry's wrath, as the King's agents confiscate some of her assets (in order to pay for her own mother's imprisonment and execution). As Lady Bryan sadly remarks to one of Elizabeth's maids that "the child is now a bastard" the little girl watches them with frightened eyes, not yet realizing that her mother Anne is due to die the next day.
Season Three Edit
Elizabeth's role in the third season is somewhat smaller. Lady Bryan petitions Henry to ask for money (as Elizabeth is outgrowing her clothes and no new ones have been provided) but Henry sneeringly remarks that Elizabeth is not his child but that of Anne and Sir Henry Norris, as Anne was accused (falsely) of having relations with many men. Elizabeth's fortunes soon improve, however, when she and Mary are gifted with a beautiful and kindhearted step-mother, Jane Seymour, who eventually bears Henry the son he has always wanted; Jane privately sends Lady Bryan some money to cover Elizabeth's needs.
Jane and Mary eventually decide to present Elizabeth, now four and a half years old, to her father at Christmas; she arrives at court in episode 3.03 with Lady Bryan, looking extremely frightened. Henry is at first stunned to see Elizabeth, but he quickly recovers, teasing her in a familiar manner and indicating he will accept her as his daughter again. He then sets her on his lap, kissing her forehead and remarking "Je suis en famille!" to the applause of the court and the delight of Jane, Mary and Elizabeth.
After Prince Edward is born, Elizabeth, despite being happy about her new baby brother, privately expresses her belief that Henry shouldn't prefer a boy over her and Mary. Mary shuts this down gently, acting as the benevolent big sister. Elizabeth is shown less later in the season, partly because of the passage of time after Jane Seymour's death; she appears briefly in episode 3.07 to present a bouquet of flowers to Henry's newly betrothed, Anne of Cleves, who is quite friendly towards her.
Season Four Edit
By the events of Season Four, Elizabeth is now a pre-teenager. She spends a great deal of time with her former stepmother Anne of Cleves, who helps tutor her and looks on her as a daughter figure. Elizabeth has begun to display her hunger for knowledge in this season, driven by the intelligence and ambition she inherited from both sides of her family; she practices her foreign languages often, and works to improve her dancing skills. Henry encourages her, providing her with new books and telling her "without knowledge, life is not worth having." However, despite obviously having great pride and love for Elizabeth, Henry is shown to observe her with visible unease, reminded by her every day of his turbulent relationship with her deceased mother. When Elizabeth is presented to Katherine Howard, she hides her disdain of the new Queen and charms her- quite unlike her sister, who showed Katherine near-open contempt.
Although Elizabeth is pleased when she and Mary are restored to the line of succession after Edward, she is disturbed by the grim fate of Katherine Howard in episode 4.05, and vows to her sister Mary that she will never marry (something she successfully holds herself to). Elizabeth is the one who notices her brother Edward's illness and alerts Lady Bryan and the doctors, helping to save his life. She develops a very friendly relationship with her new stepmother Catherine Parr, who like Anne of Cleves plays a role in her education.
During the final episode, Elizabeth appears to Henry in an illusion alongside her deceased mother, Anne Boleyn; Anne expresses her pride in their daughter (which Henry shares) but they leave despite him asking her not to. In the final scenes, when Henry announces his intention to sepparate from his family in his dying days, Elizabeth does not join Mary and Catherine Parr in weeping, but leaves the castle first, with no emotion showing on her face- perhaps relieved that she is finally free of her loving but domineering and unpredictable father, ready to face her unknown great destiny. During Henry's final flashback, one of his memories shows him playfully twirling a two-year-old Elizabeth.
The end credits show the progression of Henry's three children on the throne, remarking that two Tudor monarchs- Henry and Elizabeth- changed England forever.
Elizabeth is shown as a pre-teenager in the fourth season; she has inherited her father's red hair and oval face, but she has the same piercing eyes as her mother Anne (Anne and Elizabeth had black eyes historically, but blue in the series). She was supposedly the only one of Henry's children who looked significantly like him. She also has her mother's intelligence, which rather fortunately for her was greater than Henry's; this allowed her to reign with a more objective and less impulsive mind, and she selected her advisors-and dismissed them- more carefully and less frequently than her father.
- (Henry VIII speaking of the infant Elizabeth): "Who knows, Mistress Bryan? Perhaps, one day, this little girl will preside over empires."
- Elizabeth: (at 4 and a half years old) "Votre Majeste, ca va?"
- Henry: (beams at her) "Ca va bien, ma petite. Come, sit here. Attention." (sets her on his lap and kisses her forehead, making her smile) "Je suis en Famille!" (the court applauds, Lady Mary and Queen Jane smile)
- Elizabeth: (trying to help her little brother study Latin) "Edward, you've got to learn this!... (sees his concentration is broken, to her exasperation) You want to go and play now, is that it? (Edward nods, Elizabeth smiles indulgently) All right, go along, Your Grace."
- Edward: (bows to her) "Thank you, Elizabeth"
- "Earlier today I made a vow to myself... As God is my witness, I shall never marry."
- The vision of Anne Boleyn, speaking of Elizabeth: "She was the only pure thing in my life, and in my life I neglected her. Since she was only a girl and I wanted so much to give you a son, but now- I am so proud of her. Fiercely proud. She is so clever, and though she is like me in many ways she is not intemperate, as I was. You must be proud of her, too, Henry?" Henry: "...I am. I am very proud of her... and I know how clever she is. And, I wish that I could love her more... but from time to time... she reminds me of you."