Monday, September 17, 2012

The Virgin Queen: Warrior, Woman, Queen

Hollywood created many films about Queen Elizabeth I. Recently, The Movie Channel presented a number of these biopics spanning from 1939 to the present. Take a look at a brief assortment:

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Matronly Elizabeth I loves Robert Deveraux, 2nd Earl of Essex, but politics come before the relationship. Better Davis stars, along with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

Young Bess (1953)
Chronicles the life of Elizabeth I, before she became the Queen of England. Henry VII’s daughter has a forbidden romance with naval hero Thomas Seymour.  The movie stars Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Charles Laughton and Deborah Kerr.

 The Virgin Queen (1955)
Returning to the role she played two decades earlier, Bette Davis stars as England's Elizabeth I. Richard Todd is roguish Sir Walter Raleigh, who uses the aging monarch's interest in him for his own gains, and Joan Collins is the lady-in-waiting who comes between them.  After he plots against her, she allows him to escape to the New World.

Elizabeth (1998)

A film of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch. Cate Blanchett was nominated an Oscar for Best Actress, but the film's only win was for Best Makeup.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
A mature Queen Elizabeth endures multiple crises late in her reign including court intrigues, an assassination plot, the Spanish Armada, and romantic disappointments.
The film stars Cate Blanchett who again received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.  Clive Owen and Geoffrey Rush also starred.
All the drama aside, what do you really know about this Warrior, Woman, and Queen? Here’s a brief refresher.
Queen Elizabeth I was born in 1533 at the Greenwich Palace, the daughter to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth became Queen in 1558, her country was poor, torn apart by religious squabbles, and a second rate power in the world. When she died in 1603, England was one of the most affluent and powerful countries in the world. Elizabeth managed to successfully lead her people in war. She defeated the most powerful man in the world, King Philip II of Spain, when he sent his Armada against the country in the summer of 1588. Elizabeth had been careful to nurture the navy, and her efforts had paid off well. The defeat of the Armada was her finest hour, and has gone down in history as one of the greatest English victories at sea. It was Elizabeth's hand that re-established the Protestant church in England, introducing the same moderate Anglicanism still followed in England today. And it was in the Elizabethan "Golden Age" that poetry, plays, painting, and music flourished, led by names like Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Bacon.
Elizabeth died at Richmond Palace on 24 March 1603, leaving behind a rich and prosperous country. She was succeeded by the Protestant James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots, who later became King James I of England. There has always been much speculation as as to the exact cause of her death.

Elizabeth I clearly expired from some sort of internal cancer, maybe Leukemia as she had an abnormally white pallor in her last months. There is some evidence Queen Elizabeth was (brain dead) some days before her actual departure. For this reason there are no authenticated (last words).

The most commonly accepted theory for Elizabeth I's death has to do with her makeup. As she grew older, the beautiful redheaded queen wanted to keep her skin white, it was a style. She used makeup with white lead in it to achieve that look. The lead corroded her face, so unaware of the damage, she applied more makeup. She had holes in her skin, and was reported to have been applying many inches of makeup to her face each day by the end of her reign.

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