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Queen Elizabeth I's
Early Years

The Troubled Teens


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The Queen dowager married indecently soon after the king's death, her old suitor, the Lord Admiral, Thomas Seymour, brother of Edward Seymour, the King's Uncle and Lord Protector of England. Elizabeth, with her servants, went to live with the Queen and her new husband, and a new era of trouble began for her. Thomas Seymour, a dashing man in his late thirties, took an unhealthy interest in his new step-daughter, who had now just turned fourteen. He was charismatic and charming, and it is possible that Elizabeth developed a teenage crush on him. But whatever her adolescent feelings for him may have been, Seymour took advantage of them, and began to visit Elizabeth's bedchamber early in the mornings to romp in the bed with her. Sometimes the Queen herself accompanied him, and they would both tickle her. Another time, they teased Elizabeth in the garden, the Queen holding her while Seymour cut up her mourning gown for her father.

Thomas Seymour

Thomas Seymour
Wiki Commons

What exactly happened between Elizabeth and Seymour will always be a mystery as the knowledge we have of her time with him and Katherine comes from the documents produced some time later when an investigation was taking place into Seymour's relations with Elizabeth and the other royal children. Certainly matters appear to have got out of hand, Seymour's interest in Elizabeth being blatantly sexual, and neither Katherine, Kat Ashley, or Elizabeth herself was comfortable with his behaviour. Elizabeth would reputedly rise early so that when he came to her bedchamber in the mornings she would already be up and dressed. Matters came to a head when Elizabeth was reputedly found alone with the Admiral, and Katherine, concerned and perhaps a little jealous of his attention in the young girl, thought it would be better for her to leave the household. Elizabeth accordingly left, although there was no enmity between the two women, and Elizabeth wrote often to the Queen, who was now heavily pregnant. She soon gave birth to a daughter, who was named Mary, but Katherine did not survive the birth.

Leaving the household was not the end of Elizabeth's troubles with the Admiral. Shortly after his wife's death, Seymour began to seek Elizabeth's hand in marriage. Elizabeth turned him down. Seymour was deeply jealous of the influence his brother had in the country and over the boy king, and he planned a coup to give himself that power. He planned to abduct the king, marry him to Lady Jane Grey, and marry himself to Elizabeth. His plans failed, and he was arrested for treason. His plan to marry Elizabeth implicated her in the plot. It was high treason for an heir to the throne to marry without the consent of the Monarch, Privy Council and Parliament, and Elizabeth stood in great danger from those who felt that she was complicent in his marital schemes. Her servants were arrested and sent to the Tower, and she herself was closely guarded. She was also subjected to a rigorous questioning on her relations with the Admiral by Sir Robert Tyrwhit.

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Early Years