The Tudor Society

The death of Elizabeth I and possible causes of death by Alexander Taylor

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I is one of England's most well-known monarchs. She was the daughter of the infamous King Henry VIII and his second wife the illustrious Queen Anne Boleyn, who was executed when Elizabeth was just two years old.

Elizabeth reigned for almost forty-five years and was the last monarch of the Tudor Dynasty, having died childless. Her reign is famous as ‘The Golden Age’, for its blooming of the arts with the origins of Renaissance drama and for producing the most famous playwrights of the era, such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

This article will encompass the final years of Elizabeth’s life and her possible causes of death.

During Elizabeth’s final years, with her health gradually deteriorating, close friends passing away and beauty fading, she started to suffer from bouts of melancholy and what we would call in the 21st century, depression. In 1590 the queen lost one of her closest attendants, the elderly Blanche Parry. She was the queen’s chief gentlewoman of her privy chamber and keeper of the queen’s jewels, a highly respected position. Blanche had known Elizabeth since she was a child and was exceptionally regarded in her service, being
treated as a baroness with gifts of material luxuries and land. In 1598, another of Elizabeth’s close friends passed, her adviser William Cecil. Cecil had been a devout supporter and confidant of Elizabeth since her youth. The queen was devastated at the loss of these important figures, which thus furthered her reclusion and rendered her out of touch with the court she once dominated. An unforgettable moment that would change Elizabeth’s life would be the execution of her former favorite, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, on the 25th February 1601. Only a year into a new century, Elizabeth was compelled to execute Devereux. He had been tried
before the peers of the country, charged with high treason and exposed as a traitor for planning a rebellion which included planning to kidnap the queen.

The month is January 1603. Elizabeth is visibly unwell and in an unrecoverable state of melancholy and has decided to retire to her favorite residence of Richmond Palace. According to Tracey Borman’s Elizabeth’s Women, Richmond was the chosen establishment because it was where the queen could ‘best trust her sickly old age.’ During the queen's final months at Richmond she associated herself with ladies that were loyal, dependable and who had been in her service for many years, women such as Helena von Snakenborg, Marchioness of Northampton. During this period, Elizabeth refused to consume enough food or drink and this led to her becoming physically emaciated. Her ladies were becoming exceedingly worried and tried to persuade her to allow a physician to examine her, but the queen vehemently refused on several occasions. Only weeks later, Elizabeth was grief-stricken by another ghastly piece of news, the death of her long serving lady, Katherine Howard, Countess of Nottingham. The Countess had served the queen for almost 45 years until her sudden death, which seems to have been the breaking point of Elizabeth’s mental state. According to court contemporary Anthony Rivers, the ‘queen loved the countess well, and hath much lamented her death, remaining ever since in a deep melancholy that she must seemeth to be overtaken.' (Borman, 2009, p389.)

By February 1603, Elizabeth was mourning the loss of her friend. Although frail, depressed and almost seventy years of age, the queen retained her stubbornness and authority. She refused to rest and stood for hours upon hours. No matter the persuasion from her attendants, the old queen would not take rest, perhaps she was lamenting her impending death. The queen’s ladies became so worried they eventually spread out pillows on her bedchamber floor in order for the queen to sit upon if she decided to do so. During these uncomfortable final days the queen became disarranged and disordered, with feelings of guilt and regret over the execution of her late cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. According to Sir Robert Carey ‘She shedd many teares and sighs, manifesting her innocence that she never gave consent to the death of that queene.’ (Borman, 2009, P389.) She began to be plagued by ghostly vision’s of people she had previously known, including the late Scottish queen, and her throne rival Lady Katherine Grey, whose son Edward had a claim to the throne.

It soon became obvious that the queen was dying. Her ill-health mixed with a delirious and depressed state of mind drew her death closer and after almost constant persuasion by Lord Admiral, Charles Howard, she finally made the decision to retire to bed. Not long after, with the queen resting in bed in a senseless condition, the elderly Archbishop Whitgift was instructed to come to her bedside and pray for her immortal soul. He tenderly informed the frail queen of the joys that awaited her in heaven. Finally, on the 24th March, 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died. Her body was taken from Richmond to Whitehall Palace where it was held and watched over for three weeks before
her lavish and imposing funeral. Elizabeth had died in her seventieth year and left an everlasting legacy.

There are a number of possible causes for Elizabeth’s death. A popular belief is that Elizabeth gradually became ill and died due to blood poisoning. This could be through the use of the popular lead-based make-up of the era which Elizabeth was so fond of. These deadly forms of make-up were extremely toxic and dangerous to use and could cause death if continually applied to the skin. Another illness that deteriorates the body is cancer, which could have developed over the final year of Elizabeth’s life. Her death could have even been a simple bronchial infection that later developed into pneumonia due to the queen’s advanced age and weak immune system. There was no way for any of Elizabeth’s physicians to give a direct cause of death, ultimately because they didn’t know and she didn’t allow anyone to examine her, nor did she have a post-mortem.

Whatever caused the death of England’s renaissance queen, Elizabeth’s death was certainly hastened by her ailing mental health. She was suffering severely with depression and melancholy that led to her becoming isolated and a figure far-removed from the queen of her earlier year and the icon we view her as today.


  • Borman, Tracey (2009) Elizabeth’s Women. The Hidden Story of The Virgin Queen. Published by Vintage Books.
  • Weir, Alison (2009) Elizabeth the Queen. Published by Vintage Books.
  • ‘Queen Elizabeth 1st Biography’ Website. Accessed 10th March 2015.
  • ‘Elizabeth’ I. Website. Accessed 10th March 2015.

There are 89 comments Go To Comment

  1. M

    She would have hated this portrait. Old, decrepit, clearly contemplating her demise, knowing the Grim Reaper never left anyone behind.

    1. M

      I agree.

  2. L

    Melanie, I’m not entirely sure if this is true, but I believe Elizabeth had made a plaster cast made of her head. She was a very active woman, and sitting around for hours on end, whilst the painter drew a sketch of you etc, was not one of Elizabeth’s favourite pastimes.
    I also think there is perhaps a touch of vanity in there too. She didn’t want people to see the old Elizabeth, and I totally agree Elizabeth would have gone balastic at the above portrait.
    This head model she alledgely had made was of the young vivacious, beautiful young woman she once was. The dresses were of course real I can only assume that they had someone of similar stature and build to stand about for hours on end or the dress was put on a dressmakers doll, whilst the artist sketched his outline. As I said I don’t know if it is true or not, but to me at least it does seem to sound like something Elizabeth would do.
    As for what killed Elizabeth, it’s really quite possible that she just gave up. After the death of Robert D she was never the same, and the death of his stepson (on her order) who perhaps helped her to cope with the greif she felt of R.D’s death was perhaps the exclaimation point on just how useless she had become.
    I’m actually wondering if the smallpox she caught early in her reign may have played a part in her death? Again I’m not sure but I believe smallpox can re-occur. Perhaps the cold she caught, triggered the smallpox to have another go at her, and this time it finished her off.

    1. L

      I realize I’m posting this 9 months late, but you are mistaken. As an RN, I’ve never heard of a case of smallpox recurring decades afterward. Generally, surviving an attack confers permanent immunity.

      Of all the possibilities given for Elizabeth’s cause of death, I’d say that the likeliest would be lead poisoning, especially with the reports of what sounds like hallucinations. Most likely these were neurological symptoms. As for pneumonia, yes, she might have been frail; however, a) there were no contemporary accounts of coughing or other symptoms, and b) for most of her life she was a very athletic outdoors person. This would have contributed to granting her resistance from contracting such infections.

      1. A

        Spot on, I think.
        In addition to the lead poisoning… you have to remember her family tree. Not the most mentally sound group of folks. I’m a huge Tudor history buff, I LOVE King Henry the VIII… he was completely bat$hit though.

        1. C

          How can you “love” Henry VIII? He was a narcissistic, sociopathic homicidal maniac.

          1. B

            I disagre.,
            as a man of his times, and position,
            as young, a young man , privliged, spoilt, fit, healthy, full of life, intelligent, learned. A kingly king. But aftr his accident, snd the terrible injury he sustained. The chronic pain he endured must have maddened him, plus the drugs and alcohol would have made his personality change drasticly . As far as I know, there is no record of sociopathic cruelty towads animals or humans being inflicted. Or mania.

          2. P

            It’s easy to point the finger at poor old Henry for his atrocious behaviour that eventually culminated in him committing that heinous crime, disguised as treason, because although that incessant pain from his jousting accident got him thinking dark thoughts, nevertheless he regrettably couldn’t prevent himself from becoming quite the nasty piece of works he eventually became.

            I think he knew he was killing innocent people, namely Ann and her entourage, but too bad how sad, he wanted them gone.

            They were happy and he wasn’t. He’d gone negative. And in his mind he probably thought they deserved it. He was depressed and they were full of joy and they couldn’t lift him.

            They were young and he wasn’t.
            He couldn’t join in. He might have thought, on occasions, thought that they were actually laughing at him. They were ruining his life. So off with their heads. It was going to cheer him up.

            And there might have been one or two things said that his spies reported which could have been quite offensive.

            Who knows what his mental rationale was to justify their murder which he sold to the people as that preposterous nonsense which included the crazy accusation that Ann was actually sleeping with her brother.

            Ann made a big mistake.
            She should have never married the guy. That was a boo boo.
            Sometimes the low road is the way to go.

          3. W

            He king Henry the 8th is popular at renisanse festivals talking crazy and waving turkey drumsticks. And many fat men grow beards so they resemble him. He is the second most popular historical Royal narrowly beating out Queen Victoria and Elizabeth 1 and thoroughly trouncing such well known royals as Charles the first and George the third and Mary of Tack. He even beat old Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and is far ahead of Camillia and Charles. No one dresses as any of these other royals at Renaissance fairs or can get away with wielding a turkey leg as a scepter. Who wouldn’t want to be king Henry? He had 8 wives and got to eat what ever he wanted. And no one condemned him to it like they did Marie Antoinette for her culinary choices. Henry was not only king but he started his own religion. I don’t know about you but being king is awesome but being Supreme cult leader and guru is Henry cool. And that’s not all Henry loved animals and not just the ones he ate. He had several beloved dogs and a special cow he loved more than his wife.

          4. g

            Yes he was but those women knew what they were getting themselves into with king he ry they just wanted to be sex by a king…I know all them folks had STDS they really never took baths

  3. B

    Melanie, if I’m not mistaken, this portrait was not painted until after her death. And, I have seen the plaster cast of her face. It was certainly done when she was a younger woman.

  4. A

    The painting was done after her death – I think it was 1604 and I have read somewhere that the painter was keen to establish himself with the new (to England) Stuart dynasty hence why it does not depict the ‘golden age’ of Elizabeth’s reign. This is what I use it for with my students anyway so I hope I am not too far off the mark.

    1. C - Post Author

      Yes, I’ve seen it dated as c.1610 and c.1622, so definitely after Elizabeth’s death and I don’t think she would have wanted to have been depicted like that during her lifetime. It is a beautiful painting though.

  5. c

    i agree with you all she would have hated that portrait so it must have been done after her death i think she died of blood poisoning as that is most likely.

    1. E

      I agree. It’s a shame the lead in her makeup was not known as a deadly toxin then.
      It’s too bad when active vibrant creative people such as she, withdraw for fear of
      People seeing them as they are . This is a good object lesson. We are to be loved for WHO we are not what we look like at any age. God BLESS GOOD QUEEN BESS.
      She also was understandably grieving for deeds she didn’t want to do in the past but felt for complex reasons she had to do or it might be her head instead which would roll. She was a dear deeply caring person who lived her life intelligently and bravely
      Amidst court intrigue where she constantly had to watch her own back. Well done, i say. Well done.

  6. m

    trying to find out if Bess actually left a Will?

    1. C

      yes i completely agree with you it would be wonderful if she had left a will or maybe had some secret children or something!

  7. L

    She still managed to live to be 70 years old. That’s pretty good considering her guilt, depression and possible gradual led poisoning. I am watching the 2007/8 movie Elizabeth right now and I think they did an excellent job of recreating the Elizabethan era. She was a fascinating woman, considering everything she’d been through since her young womanhood. I am amazed that she survived until 70! I can’t imagine living under such circumstances… never knowing who you could truly trust and then losing those that you could trust in your old age. I think Queen Elizabeth I did a splendid job considering everything she was up against at home and abroad.

    1. A

      I’m sure the lead she used as makeup (to cover up her pock marks) was absolutely deadly. Today, even in paint with some lead in it can kill a child if they accidentally ingest any paint chips and/or make them mentally challenged; the lead cannot be used anymore in paint; applied directly to the face I’m certain was deadly for Elizabeth.

      1. C - Post Author

        Yes, it could well have caused poisoning.

    2. g

      Rite they didn’t live that long back in those day Tudors is my shit…I have read upon everyone in Tudor’s watched it I know 20 times and reign love it but all those characters in reign not real but they dressed they ass off in reign but Tudors they dressed gud there jewelry was the shit….

  8. L

    She still managed to live to be 70 years old though. That’s pretty good considering her guilt, depression and possible gradual lead poisoning. I am watching the 2007/8 movie Elizabeth right now and I think they did an excellent job of recreating the Elizabethan era. She was a fascinating woman, considering everything she’d been through since her young womanhood. I am amazed that she survived until 70! I can’t imagine living under such circumstances… never knowing who you could truly trust and then losing those that you could trust in your old age. I think Queen Elizabeth I did a splendid job considering everything she was up against at home and abroad.

  9. L

    Oh god… her face looks so demented in that pic 0_0

    1. C

      I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I see the face of a tired, once very beautiful woman. I do not see anything in her face that is nothing more than that she is older and tired. Beautiful painting of her in her old age, as far as I can see.

  10. D

    I have always thought maybe she died from ovarian cancer. It is thought, from what I’ve read, that her half sister died from ovarian cancer ( the bloating that was mistaken for a pregnancy not once but twice). It would make sense that she didn’t want to lie down– the increasing ascities makes it difficult to breath easily when the person is laying flat. As for the delerium and confusion– maybe the cancer had metastasized to her brain. Just a thought. Too bad we will never know for sure.

    1. K

      I agree that this could be a possible reason. Some types of ovarian cancer do have a genetic component.

  11. n

    Elizabeth had bad teeth. And then she had no teeth so along with the lead poisoning her teeth and gums could have been added to her health concerns.

    I don’t think she had to have a chronic condition to die at 70 years of age. 70 in 1603 is like 150 now. Her best companion dying right after her chief supporter was just too many too close who were her advisors and well as her peers.

    She suffered from out living her best friends, her true love, her step-son, and yes, her faithful advisor. They had all gone before her and she was left with a bunch of silly folks who did not have her trust or her heart.

    Like all real ladies she knew when it was time to go. She was using up her strength and knew what she was doing. When “her eyes” Dudley
    passed she pulled the same stunt but Cecil would have none of it and threatened to break down the door of her bedroom. She came out of her bedroom but was in mourning for Sir Robert for the rest of her life. .

    1. A

      How could Elizabeth I have a step-son when she was never married?

  12. A

    I admire Elizabeth the I st- she must have felt very lonely and physically frail! Ovarian cancer ? How can one be sure considering that at that time she probably never had a proper examination of herself –

    1. M

      Exactly. That what I thought too, that she must be felt lonely for years and was unsure of her future life. So sad. I’ve admired her too. Wish she let the physical doctor to exam her & gives her something to feel better and save her life in time, though.

      1. C

        I suppose we will never know what happened it could have been anything. I she had not been so heartbroken that she could not think straight at least not to look after her self. The story is so sad, she was such a great and inspirational ruler and person. It is possible she was physically ill and maybe even suffering from depression so her body cold not heal its self on its own and she wouldn’t let her self be helped. At least she still lived to a reasonable age for her time.

      2. W

        Like what? Leeches? Draining her blood? Powdered dead body? Eye of newt? Prob better off with no doctor. She should have called a Pentacostal preacher.

    2. C - Post Author

      It’s hard to know what it was but it was a pretty good age for that time, although her great uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, lived to the age of 81.

  13. M

    I watched her Queen Elisabeth I on a movie from Amazon on a based true story. In my opinion, She was just heartbroken many times from lost her beloved family member, close friends, young male lover partner that have caused her depression became developed in her state of mental, isolated for a long time. I think, she just can’t handle from keeping losing people that she have known and can’t trust anyone which is hard on her life. Sound like to me, she didn’t take care of herself, even she just thinking about others mostly, but not to herself. That’s so sad. I wish she will let the physcial doctor to exam her & give her medication to under control her illness to save her life.

  14. E

    Did it ever occur to anyone that she just…died?

    1. C - Post Author

      There’s always a reason for death, whether it’s heart failure, cancer, a stroke… Natural deaths of an old person are still always caused by something.

    2. Z

      I agree. Most people at that time didnt live beyond 45. She was in her 70’s thats 150 years old by todays standards!

    3. A

      Of old age? 70 then is like 96 years old now so I concur!!

  15. M

    I believe the portrait above was painted during the revival of the cult of Elizabeth I, when the populace was disappointed with James’s rule and looking backward to the days of Gloriana. The date is uncertain; some sources citing c. 1610, others c. 1620-22. The triumph of death and time over all of us has been an artistic motif for centuries and would not have been unusual. She might not have liked the portrait but she would have understood it. There’s debate among several sources as to whether the portrait is a tribute or a mockery, most appearing to come down on the side of a tribute.

  16. O

    According to one of the experts on Elizabeth’s Secret Agents (BBC2, today), the painting dates from her life. “The Queen was so furious about it that she never allowed it to be displayed.”

  17. L

    I don’t understand. When did blood poisoning come into play?

  18. L

    I don’t understand. When did blood poisoning come into play? All it says is she’s delirious and depressed.

    1. A

      Blood poisoning = Sepsis
      A great number of things can cause bacteria in the blood stream, infections of any variety. Even the “treatment” of bleeding someone which was so popular at the time could give her an infection that could spread. Her disorientation and behavior leading to her death seem indicative of such an infection.

      1. M

        She could have had a lingering UTI and that causes the mental confusion and disorientation.

        1. I

          I agree that is a distinct possibility and would have been more likely as she aged. Could have gone into her bladder too with deadly consequence.

    2. C - Post Author

      There are various theories about her death, one being blood poisoning/sepsis which can be caused by a number of different things, including pneumonia,
      abdominal infection, kidney infection and bloodstream infection. In those days, they obviously didn’t have antibiotics so even a minor infection could become serious and life-threatening. Some people believe that her use of lead make-up may also have contributed to her death by poisoning her blood.
      Elizabeth had been depressed for some time, she was grieving for close friends she’d lost and she may well have had underlying health issues that added to her depression.

  19. G

    My own belief is that she died of malnutrition caused in part by depression as pointed out and also the fact that she had a body image problem. The is most evident in her speeches where she refers to herself as “a weak and feeble woman”. The fact also that she need to stuff cloths in her cheeks to stop them sagging inwards another sign of extreme weight loss. This would eventually lead to heart failure, as in Karen Carpenter’s case.
    I also believe that Elizabeth had an inferiority complex the size of Mount Everest! So nobody could convince her that she was beautiful. She would just say to them “I had that reputation years ago”. But she was always beautiful and a blond too. The red hair is a myth.
    None of the paintings do her justice. Even when she was in her 50’s one ambassador said that “she could compete with a girl of 18 for grace and beauty.”
    These days it is possible to see a woman well into her 60’s be extremely beautiful and as a result young men of 18 will chase after them!
    However historians are mostly old men and therefore can never see a woman such as Elizabeth as beautiful in her 60’s. So they call it a cult.

    1. C - Post Author

      She was very depressed as she had lost quite a few close friends in those last years so perhaps she didn’t eat well, it’s hard to know. However, I don’t believe that she had a body image problem or that she viewed herself as weak and feeble, that’s not the Elizabeth that comes through in her speeches.In her Tilbury speech, she said “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too” so she was saying that although she was a woman, and therefore society viewed her as weak and feeble, she wasn’t weak and feeble, she was the same as a king, like her father. Women in those days were viewed as weak and feeble.

    2. L

      She had reddish-gold hair like Henry.

  20. K

    No-one, not even in the 1970s series Elizabeth R, ever states that on her last day or days, she tore herself out of her deathbed to receive a delegation of dignitaries saying: “we shall die afterwards”. Source: ‘The Mutation of Death’ vol.3, p7, the first page of ch. 2, by SatPrem, ISBN .0-938710-17-6.

    1. C - Post Author

      Does the author cite a primary source for that at all? Thanks!

      1. C - Post Author

        That’s not a primary source. In my historical research, I only go on what the documents say, what people who were at the royal court at the time say. Thanks though.

  21. r

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  22. R

    This portrait shows a very sad old lady, the shadow of death hangs over her and she has none of the glorious disguise, red hair, the wonderful clothes, but you see Elizabeth as she really was in the last few years of her life, when she can no longer hide. It is a sad and real look into the soul of the woman who had ruled England for over 40 years, in her late 60s, old for Tudor times and it is a very human Elizabeth.

  23. M

    Although she seem weary in this painting I think she still looks beautiful.

  24. R

    I do not think she looks beautiful,but is that what has us wrighting about her today? Not!! She is an inspiration then, now & tomorrow. She has been quoted by a commenter above, and as such she will live with us and those too to come forever. She WAS beautiful but YOUTH is beauty, however she transcended that.

    On a side note, I think it is great that a mother had her two daughters learn with her , both on a learning point, more importantly on a bonding point!.
    I am grateful to know of Queen Elizabeth I & have her in my life as inspiration!

  25. L

    I realise this question is probably too late for many people to browse. However, I am also curious about her ‘step son’ when the Queen never married. Did Elizabeth ever grant R.D’s son some measure of status in this regard? As for her ill health and death, it does seem as though a range of illnesses and / or conditions of long standing combined to wear her down and bring about a loss of the will to live. I’m astounded by the fact she lived to 70, or near enough!

    1. C - Post Author

      Although it is clear that Elizabeth and Dudley loved each other she did not act as a stepmother in any way to his son, also Robert, Dudley’s illegitimate son by Douglas Sheffield. She was not his godmother and so was not involved at all in his upbringing etc. She does appear to have taken an interest in him, though.

      1. D

        Yes, he was not really her stepson, but he was Robert Dudley’s son. It’s said ( but no research, just speculation, that she saw Robert in him and though he was 22 years younger than her, she fell in love with him because he reminded her of her love of Robert. He took advantage of it. He made her feel young again. I believe he was the son of Letice Knoley ( not sure of spelling) who Robert Dudley married after he gave up hope of marrying Elizabeth.

      2. D

        Yes, he was not really her stepson, but he was Robert Dudley’s son. It’s said ( but no research, just speculation), that she saw Robert in him and though he was 22 years younger than her, she fell in love with him because he reminded her of her love for Robert. He took advantage of it. He made her feel young again. I believe he was the son of Letice Knoley ( not sure of spelling) who Robert Dudley married after he gave up hope of marrying Elizabeth. Also, I read she was not a virgin at all, just never married.

  26. T

    I believe she never married because in those times,if she had married whoever she married would have tried to takeover as King,she sused it all out when she came to the throne and never to marry was her conclusion

    1. C - Post Author

      And it also meant that she could play countries off against each other while she considered marriage matches.

  27. e

    i had a great great great great great great great great great great grandmother and my great great great great great great great great grandfather (which is my great x5 grandmothers husband) he worked as one of her people and had a close connection with queen elizabeth he once found a paper behind a painted picture of her and the paper note had writing talking about her condition but did not express to much and this time my great x8 grandfather went home hurried and gave this paper to my great x8 grandmother and passed it on to all gandparents of my mothers until my grandmother gave it to me and the condition she had was sepsis. i am not saying your wrong but this is real proof and I SWARE TO THE LAW I AM SAYING THE TRUTH AND TELLING THE TRUTHp!

  28. k

    i know and believe this is truth

  29. L

    she died because God wanted her to

  30. F

    I’ve read a couple books on Elizabeth including JE Neale, and there are letters and diplomatic communique’s that still exist to this day, written first-hand by ambassadors and other official visitors to her Court, and one of those accounts stated (paraphrasing) ‘Elizabeth does not possess great natural beauty, but she is stunning to look at.’ which was from an Italian or Austrian ambassador or someone of that nature.

  31. B

    I am surprised she lived so long considering the lead paint she put on her face since she had smallpox at 29! She was a great queen but she also was paranoid and bitter since she came to the thone as evidenced by her malicious and awful treatment of the Grey sisters – especially Katherine Grey whom she drove to her death. She was insanely jealous of her and her younger sister Mary.

    Also she didn’t marry mainly coz she had seen how a queen could be executed ie her own mother Anne Boleyn. Elisabeth was very bright and those lessons wouldn’t be wasted on her. I wonder if she had vaginismus and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she had considering her background.

  32. J

    Elizabeth died because of lack o sleep and food. When asked to have some sleep .she replied , if you saw what I see when I close my eye’s. You would not close you’r eyes. she saw all the people murded.

  33. D

    When my husband and I were in London we visited Westminster Abbey where Elizabeth I lies next to Mary Queen of Scots. I just stood there wanting not to move on, as they say. I just wanted to be there “in the moment “. It was glorious until one of the guards did come up to me to say…move along!

    1. W

      You are mistaken, Elizabeth I is in Westminster Abbey with her sister Mary Tudor, not Mary Queen of Scots. And as I recall they are not sure by side but that Elizabeth is on top.

      1. J

        Dorothy Sellers is correct. Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) does lie near Elizabeth I. James, Mary’s son, had her body interred there. In 1612 he had someone go to Peterborough Cathedral (where she was buried after her beheading) to have her corpse dug up. She and “Bess” are about 30 feet apart.

    2. N

      It not Mary Queen of Scots next to Elizabeth, she was her cousin.

      It’s her elder (half) sister Mary (daughter of Henry viii and Catherine of Aragon)

      1. R

        Nick, Elizabeth shared the same vault as her sister Mary and she is at the side or on top but in the same vault. The thing is Mary isn’t marked but Elizabeth has a beautiful effigy on the tomb. A plaque reminds us that Mary and Elizabeth rest there for Eternity.

        Mary Queen of Scots lays in a separate and more elaborate tomb close to her cousin. It was moved from Peterborough Cathedral to the new tomb by her son James I. I recommend that you visit the Westminster Abbey website for more information.

  34. E = Bisley Boy – long fingers, hidden throat , musculine face, no one allowed to eamine her after dying!

    1. C - Post Author

      And yet she had a very intimate examination to check that she could still bear children when there were negotiations for a marriage match with France. I think the physician and ambassadors would have noticed if she’d been a man.

      1. J

        Not to mention that her ladies-in-waiting would surely have noticed a penis, since they were the ones who had the “privilege” of helping Elizabeth to bathe.

        1. C - Post Author

          Yes, although perhaps their silence could be bought. I’m sure there would have been gossip though, someone would have talked!

  35. S

    Losing people you love is HARD. The tragedu of her hardships took a toil. No one lives forever. I will always admire her strength, courage, and devotion to those she csred for– her people. GOD BLESS THIS QUEEN ALWAYS.

    1. S

      Whatever she died of, the reason she wouldn’t allow a PM could have been simply to maintain the mystery of her virginity!

  36. R

    yeah its really hard

  37. R

    Today is again the Anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Reading the article above again for me Elizabeth simply died of old age, worn down by heart breaking loss of several old friends in a short period of time, depression and ill health. She was 69 and had reigned for almost 44 days. She was one of the longest reigning monarchs and a great Queen. I am not going to go bonkers here and call her Glorianna, although to many she was, but lets say she did a good job. Like all monarchs she had good and bad points and was ruthless and had moments of generous mercy. She wasn’t personally cruel but she persecuted those she thought of as a threat, real or imagined, that is Catholics and Puritans. She didn’t marry but she wasn’t a woman who didn’t know love or passion and she came close on more than one occasion. Elizabeth made close friendships with a number of her ladies but mind the hair brush and scissors if she was in a foul mood. Elizabeth has been praised for her diplomatic prowess, especially with Russia and Turkey and even France and Spain and condemned for disasters in Ireland and Panama. She began as the loving sister of Mary Queen of Scots and ended terrified of her cousin. She imprisoned Mary but was reluctant to execute a fellow monarch as she could be next. Paranoid delusion and alleged plots against her life changed her mind and Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in a botched execution on 8th February 1587. Elizabeth will be rightly remembered for the defeat of the Amarda of Spain, although the tale was wrapped up in legend, art and propaganda. However, she also sent several disastrous English Amardas to take revenge and to their doom. Under Elizabeth it is very fair to state that there was a flourishing of art and literature, drama and architecture and exploration around the world. The Age of Elizabeth is probably one of the greatest in this respect. Unfortunately, her Age also ended with famine and war, but she was remembered well by those who honoured her afterwards.

    Elizabeth herself was remarkable as a political leader and she was crafty. Her statecraft was her strongest weapon as was her gender. Elizabeth did not behave like a man in any way. On the contrary she flaunted her femininity. She played on it and had men swooning at her feet. She used her clothes as a political weapon and took hours to dress. She used portraits as propaganda and did so to great effect. Elizabeth was a survivor and her father and sister were her teachers. Elizabeth had a lot in common with both of them. Elizabeth remembered her mother fondly from the stories others told her, using her crest and arms and falcon badge. Elizabeth kept her memory alive.

    I believe Elizabeth saw so many people die that she knew it was just time to go. Like all the Kings and Queens of her day she ate the wrong food and she used the wrong things to aid her image. The powder for her pox marked face was indeed lined with lead. Most certainly this and her lifestyle contributed to her death, but 69 was a remarkable age to achieve, especially if you think others are always trying to kill you.

    RIP Queen Elizabeth I. She did O. K.

  38. R

    She is certainly a great Queen and were she only a Catholic she would be our dearly beloved. Just look how well she governs! She is only a woman, only mistress of half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all…. Our children would have ruled the whole world.’ Pope Sixtus V describes Elizabeth, c1588

    Just found this great quotation from a letter from Pope Sixtus V in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada. I think this Pope is a fan boy.

  39. G

    She, and the ladies of her court, introduced a vibrant red lipstick made of mercuric sulfide, forgoing rouge – a jeweler’s polish formerly used – to the detriment of their health. That, in conjunction with other then-unknown-to-be-toxic substances entering the diet and in skin contact, and the marginal hygiene of the era, no doubt conspired to shorten lives of those of the court significantly.

  40. J

    Queen Elizabeth I could have died of various ailments, both occult and visible, possibly related to elderly age as well, given the impetuous life expectancy and miserable prognoses of the era which would spare absolutely nobody, from pauper to sovereign. Survival has always been and will always be a gamble, I suppose, taking into consideration that the queen’s father and half-siblings had succumbed, at a much younger age, to what back then could have been deemed as grave illness .

  41. T

    I suspect sepsis secondary to urinary tract infection in turn due to dehydration and malnutrition from anorexia caused by depression.

    It is stated that she was depressed and that led to a loss of appetite (anorexia, not to be confused with anorexia Nervosa). The malnutrition and dehydration that this would lead to would decrease her immunoglobin production through protein deficiency, and decrease urine production. Dehydration itself could make her delirious, as would a bladder infection. Once the bladder infection spread to her bloodstream (sepsis), it would cause shock.

  42. V

    Good lord, of course, she wasn’t a virgin. Taking on the persona of the Virgin Queen was only to stay in power without being subjugated by a husband who could take away her power! Yay for her!!! Although I do wonder what she did at that time to avoid pregnancy? I have not looked into that and no I don’t want to hear your guesses on that subject. I find it so interesting how much sexism that the woman still has deal with over 400 years after her death. She was an amazing woman who survived and thrived during very tough circumstances. As a monarch of her time; she also did some terrible things as they all did. She is a woman to be remembered both for the good and the bad.

  43. H

    Man is never happy with the death of another man. But the death of the oppressor is beautiful. People like this bloodthirsty woman should go to hell. Curse British colonialism and its symbolic royal family. May God curse the symbolic proud and bloodthirsty family and the British colonial government.

    1. E

      Curse all bloodthirsty tyrants.

  44. K

    To the person who left a comment on December 27, 2021 who claimed to know that “all them folks had STD’s”: STD’s are NOT the result of infrequent bathing. They are the result of microorganisms being transmitted from one sexual partner to another during sexual intercourse. There is no scientific evidence that any of the Tudors harbored any sexually transmitted diseases. It used to be thought that, because of the obstetrical history of his wives, King Henry VIII might have had an STD, but modern medical historians now believe that he carried a rare antigen known as the Kell antigen which can cause a form of hemolytic disease of the newborn much like that common in an Rh-negative woman carrying an Rh-positve fetus.

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The death of Elizabeth I and possible causes of death by Alexander Taylor