Elizabeth I Episode 2 Starring Lily Cole

Episode 2 – The Enemy Within, aired 16.05.2017

Elizabeth I c.1563 Hampden portrait by Steven van der Meulen
Elizabeth I c.1563 Hampden portrait by Steven van der Meulen

Aged 25 Elizabeth is queen but not safe

1559 Elizabeth crowned queen, but her path to power had been a long battle

She had survived but could never drop her guard

War was raging across Europe as Catholics and Protestants tore each other apart – Elizabeth was plunged into the middle of the battle

Elizabeth most powerful protestant monarch surrounded by catholic enemies


Privy council believed Elizabeth needed to marry

Elizabeth declared she was already married to England – sounded great, but just words

Queen had a good reason for not wanting to wed – would reduce her power, wanted to be a real queen not queen in name only

Understandable but left a huge problem – who would rule if she suddenly died?

Most dangerous possible heir was Elizabeth’s catholic cousin Mary Queen of Scots

Mary was the only child of James VI of Scotland and became queen at just 6 days old

Mary married the French dauphin, but he died and Mary returned to Scotland, wanting to be named Elizabeth’s heir

Both descended from Henry VII – Mary had a good claim and knew it

1561 Mary asked to be named heir but Elizabeth refused – consequences would last over 20 years

Why did Elizabeth refuse? She was protestant and Mary catholic

Mary adamant she would be named heir and swore to take crown by force if necessary


1561 Mary Queen of Scots warned Elizabeth that unless she was named heir she would marry a catholic prince and take the throne by force

Elizabeth and Cecil shocked – Elizabeth asked Cecil’s advice, which was to marry

Elizabeth agreed to consider Mary’s proposal as heir if she would marry an English noble instead of a foreign prince

It was a risky offer – possibly Mary married an English protestant who Elizabeth could control, possibly Robert Dudley?

Dudley handsome and charming and loved Elizabeth


Elizabeth and Dudley adored each other, but Elizabeth knew she could never marry him

Dudley already had a wife who died 1560

He was implicated in his wife’s murder

November 1564 envoys met to discuss the marriage

Elizabeth refused to guarantee Mary’s place as heir, even with the marriage

Mary was furious and refused to trust Elizabeth

Mary determined to find her own husband and snatch Elizabeth’s crown


Henry Stewart Lord Darnley was a descendent of Scottish nobility and a catholic – perfect marriage material, and a great-grandson of Henry VII

Elizabeth saw Mary’s choice of husband as a personal attack – Darnley refused to return to court

Elizabeth sent an envoy to Scotland saying that Mary could have her pick of any English husband – if she refused all goodwill would end

29 July 1565 Mary married Darnley – credible alternative to Elizabeth

Rumours spread that Mary proclaimed Darnley king


Mary’s marital bliss was short-lived as Darnley revealed he was drunk, arrogant, and a sexual deviant within just weeks of the wedding

Mary had made a terrible mistake but was already pregnant

19 June 1566 Mary went into labour and gave birth to a baby boy called James

Mary had produced an heir which Elizabeth had failed to do – James was a king in waiting


10 February 1567 Darnley’s body was found in an orchard, strangled

His murderer was said to be James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who was a jealous thug, and rumour said he was also Mary’s lover

Elizabeth disgusted that Mary was said to be involved with Darnley’s murder

Elizabeth wrote to Mary – Elizabeth tells Mary that she needs to punish Bothwell if the people weren’t to believe that she herself was involved

Mary denied any part in the murder but no one believed her

Mary and Bothwell fled to Dunbar Castle, at first believing Mary had been abducted

News soon reached England that Mary married Bothwell

Elizabeth was determined to bring Bothwell and Mary to justice


April 1567 Elizabeth still unmarried, but Mary Queen of Scots was thrice married

Mary’s bizarre marriages made Elizabeth’s decision to stay single look sensible

Bothwell fled but Mary surrendered to her nobles while pregnant for a second time – her eldest son was handed over to her captors

Mary was paraded through the streets in disgrace then locked up at Lochleven Castle


Sounds like Elizabeth would have approved, but Mary was a queen – if Scottish nobles could lock up Mary nothing could stop English nobles from doing the same to Elizabeth

Problem of possible war with Scotland

Mary fell seriously ill in captivity and in early July 1567 she had a miscarriage which had been twins

Mary was desperate and the same month she was given an ultimatum

The council declared Mary unfit to rule, she was ordered to abdicate and give up the throne to her son, James

Mary declared it was done against her will, but days later her son was crowned king

2 May 1568 Mary convinced a young boy to run her across the loch


Elizabeth was the only person who could restore Mary to the throne

Mary arrived in England 2 weeks later to a cold reception

Elizabeth and her councillors had feared that Mary would arrive in England – she had until this point kept the Catholics in England under control

She became a figurehead for Catholic rebels – Elizabeth ordered her arrest

Mary was arrested and held at Carlisle Castle

Elizabeth was right to keep Mary under lock and key


Pope Pius V hated Elizabeth and wanted her dead – 25 February 1570 a bull of excommunication against Elizabeth was promulgated

Elizabeth was described as “the pretended Queen of England” – licence for any foreign monarch to invade England

It also declared that if people supported Elizabeth they were guilty of heresy

The pope wanted Elizabeth dead and Mary on the English throne

Cecil wanted all Catholics arrested and questioned but Elizabeth refused to “make windows into men’s souls”

Cecil recruited Francis Walsingham, a devout protestant and loyal to Elizabeth – he became Elizabeth’s chief spymaster

Without evidence, Elizabeth wouldn’t execute Mary


Cecil and Walsingham wanted to break Mary – conditions worsened by the day

Elizabeth’s life and England’s future depended on Mary’s continued imprisonment

1586 Mary had been imprisoned for 18 years – that summer her chance came with the Babington plot

Babington declared Elizabeth an enemy and heretic – they determined to kill Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne

Babington wanted Mary to bless the plot – if she was caught she would be executed

She had nothing more to lose and thought about the proposal for a week before giving her written consent to it

The reply was written in code and smuggled out of the castle in a beer barrel

Elizabeth’s life was in more danger than ever before


Summer 1586 Mary Queen of Scots gave her blessing to a Catholic plot led by Anthony Babington to murder Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne

Walsingham was already aware of the treasonous conspiracy – his spies intercepted Mary’s letter

Walsingham had proof that Mary was plotting to overthrow Elizabeth

25 October 1586 Mary was taken to Fotheringay to stand trial

Mary was found guilty of conspiring with Babington to kill Elizabeth – there was only the sentence of death


Elizabeth wanted to stamp out her enemies but was reluctant to kill a fellow queen

Elizabeth faced the biggest dilemma of her life

The council tried to push Elizabeth to sign the warrant – they tried to scare her into signing the warrant by threatening another revolt and a Spanish invasion

They were lies designed to scare Elizabeth and it worked

1 February 1587 after months of stalling, Elizabeth finally signed Mary’s death warrant

Elizabeth specified the warrant was only to be used if Spain invaded England but Walsingham was determined to execute it no matter what

Mary said she was happy to die for the catholic church

8 February 1587 after 19 years in prison Mary was taken for her execution at Fotheringay Castle in a red gown to signify martyrdom

It took 3 swings to remove Mary’s head


When Elizabeth discovered Cecil had executed the warrant she was furious and sent her secretary to the Tower

Elizabeth was distraught by Mary’s death for the rest of her life

Mary wasn’t Elizabeth’s brightest enemy but she was one of the most dangerous

Mary had to die

A line had been crossed and there would be terrible consequences

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