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Study Notes

Role of Gender

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, Eduqas

Last updated 12 Apr 2017

Elizabeth being a woman presented a significant challenge to her when she became Queen in 1558. There are several key elements to this problem.

The Ditchley Portrait of Elizabeth I c.1592

Firstly, Christian teaching taught that women were inferior to men and were incapable of leading, therefore, to have a Queen was seen by some as being unnatural. In addition to this, should a woman get married they would be expected to serve and obey their husbands. This would potentially cause conflict in ruling a country, as the Queen would be expected to rule, yet also obey their husband.

Secondly, England had only had one Queen before Elizabeth, her half-sister Mary. Mary’s reign had been short and caused tremendous disruption in England. Her reign has seen England filled with religious persecution through the execution of Protestants and other heretics. Mary had also married Philip II of Spain which was unpopular in England too, so many had worries about the type of reign that Elizabeth would bring.

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