Following the tragic death of Edward VI, a vicious battle for the throne began between three women – Lady Jane Grey, Mary and Elizabeth.
Initially, Lady Jane Grey was set to be the next Queen of England following her nomination by Edward VI, but her reign lasted just nine days. Popular and political support instead favoured her cousin Mary, so Jane was imprisoned in the tower and eventually executed. Instead, Mary was crowned the first “true” Queen of England on the 1st of October, 1553. It would appear that this was not meant to be, either, as Mary only reigned for five years. It was a reign which was filled with countless problems and challenges, many of which were caused by her young half-sister, Elizabeth. When Mary decided to re-establish Catholicism in England, Elizabeth became the poster girl for all who opposed her and her husband, Philip II of Spain.
Rebellions began to rise up in Elizabeth’s name, including one led by Thomas Wyatt in a bid to overthrow Queen Mary. Elizabeth was even suspected of having a part in the plot itself, supposedly having corresponded with the French ambassador, among others. However, Wyatt and the rebels refused to give up any of this information.
In a bid to regain control, Mary placed Elizabeth on house-arrest in a number of locations, including the Tower of London. As much as she begged to be allowed freedom, Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower on the 18th of March. She was kept in the same room which had been occupied by her mother before her trial and execution some years before.
Elizabeth’s imprisonment in the Tower didn’t last long, and she was moved to Woodstock in Oxfordshire as early as the 19th of May. While she was there, her half-sister married Philip II of Spain and was allegedly expecting a child. Times, however, were changing. It turned out that Mary wasn’t pregnant after all, and even her husband began to see Elizabeth as the true heir to the throne (he even tried to get her to marry his cousin).
With Mary’s health quickly deteriorating, she was forced to name Elizabeth as her heir on the 6th of November, 1558. Just 11 days later, Mary was dead.
On 15 January 1559, the 25-year-old Elizabeth I arrived at the Tower of London once again for a very different reason. Elizabeth rode through the City of London to Westminster Abbey, where she was crowned and anointed the new Queen of England.