November 17th 1558

miniature knitting
© F H Powell 2015

On this day 450 years ago Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland acceded to the English throne. She was born on 7th September 1533 and died 24th March 1603. The daughter of Henry VIII, she was the last of the Tudor lineage that had begun in 1485, this period being known as the Tudor Dynasty. Elizabeth was born to Henry and his second wife Anne Boleyn (who was executed when Elizabeth was three years old and as a result Elizabeth was stripped of her title of Princess and declared illegitimate). After her fathers death her brother Edward VI acceded to the throne and after him Elizabeth’s sister Mary. On Mary’s death Elizabeth became Queen.

One of Elizabeth’s first actions was to support the restoration of the Protestant faith after her sister, Mary, had supported Catholicism. During her reign the country prospered and trade flourished, this was referred to as the ‘Golden Age’. William Shakespeare became eminent with his plays and Francis Drake led seafaring exploits including defeating the Spanish Armada. It was also the time that ladies in waiting to Queen Elizabeth took up knitting for pleasure. Prior to this knitting had been a mans trade that was regulated by law. Tradition has it that the defeat of the Spanish Armada and their subsequent attempt to flee around the coast of Scotland brought Spanish styled knitting to Scotland from those ships that floundered and put ashore. These designs are seen in Fair Isle and Shetland designs to mention but two.

However, Elizabeth’s reign was not without its challenges. Elizabeth feared a French invasion via Scotland with a sympathetic Mary Queen of Scots on the throne of Scotland. Mary was heir to the English throne too and Elizabeth imprisoned Mary for nineteen years rather than risk a challenge to her crown. Supporters of Mary devised many plots to overthrow Elizabeth, so that eventually in 1587 Mary was beheaded.

By 1602 Elizabeth had become depressed and her great public speaking of earlier years had stopped. Her popularity waned and on her death a year later there was some relief that she had gone.

Why not depict Elizabeth’s Golden Age in your dolls house with some Tudor furniture available in kit form in 1:12th and 1:24th scale. Or if you feel adventurous why not knit a 1/12th scale man’s Tudor cap or stockings from our knitting pattern FP 120.