Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Death of Elizabeth

When Leicester grew too old to please Elizabeth, he presented to her his son-in-law, the handsome Essex. The queen lavished gifts of all kinds upon this favourite, and when Burleigh died, after serving her faithfully for forty years, she made Essex her principal adviser.

Trouble having arisen in Ireland, Elizabeth sent Essex thither to put down a rebellion headed by the Earl of Tyrone. But Essex had been spoiled by the favour shown him, and disobeyed the queen's orders. Hearing that she was angry, he came home without her permission, and forced his way into her presence all travel-stained.

The queen, who was already displeased, fancied that his soiled garments were a token of disrespect, and coldly bade him withdraw. This repulse was so unexpected that Essex fell ill; but when the queen heard he was suffering, she shed tears, and sent him soup from her own table.

Essex had made such grave blunders while in Ireland that a council was called to judge him; but he, thinking the queen had forgiven him, seemed not to fear a trial. He came about the court as usual, and when the queen refused to grant him a favour, he spitefully remarked that now she was an old woman she was as crooked in mind as in person. This speech was reported to Elizabeth, whose vanity was so hurt that she allowed the council to imprison and try her former favourite, and to sentence him to death for high treason.

But, according to one famous story, she fancied she could still help him, for she had once given him a ring, saying that if he should ever be in any trouble he need but send it to her and she would save him. Elizabeth felt sure Essex would make use of this ring to save his life, but it was not brought to her. Essex, on his part, could not believe that the queen would really allow him to die, and even on his way to the scaffold he kept watching for a messenger bringing his pardon.

Not very long after his death, the Countess of Nottingham begged the queen to come to her, as she wished to tell her something before she breathed her last. Elizabeth complied with this request, and then the dying countess confessed that Essex had given her a ring to carry to the queen, but that her husband would not let her do so. As she finished her confession she begged the queen to forgive her; but Elizabeth angrily shook her, saying, "God may forgive you, but I never can!"

Perhaps this romantic tale is true, and it was this confession she had just heard that embittered the rest of Elizabeth's life. Anyway, she soon became ill, took no food, and lay on the floor ten days, refusing to be moved. Her attendants supported her there with cushions, and when she became too ill to resist, they put her into her bed, where she died (1603).

Although Elizabeth was a tyrannical ruler for forty-five years, she had so many fine qualities that she was called, and is still known, as "good Queen Bess." She was the last of the five rulers of the Tudor line.