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England under Elizabeth the First
Weary of the barbarities of Mary's reign, the people looked with hope and gladness to the new Sovereign. The nation seemed to wake from a horrible dream. Queen Elizabeth was twenty-five years of age when she rode through the streets of London, from the Tower to Westminster Abbey, to be crowned. Her hair was red, and her' nose something
too long and sharp for a woman's. She was not beautiful, but she was well enough, and looked all the better for coming after the gloomy Mary. She was well educated, clever, but cunning and deceitful, and inherited much of her father's violent temper. She began her reign with the great advantage of having a very wise and careful minister, Sir William Cecil, whom she afterwards made Lord Burleigh.
The coronation was a great success; and, on the next day, one of the courtiers presented a petition to the new Queen, praying that as it was the custom to release some prisoners on such occasions, she would have the goodness to release the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and also the Apostle Saint Paul, who had been for some time shut up in a strange language so that the people could not get at them.
The Queen replied that it would be better first to inquire of themselves whether they desired to be released or not, and a great public discussion — a sort of religious tournament — was appointed to take place between certain champions of the two religions, in Westminster Abbey. It was soon made pretty clear, that for people to benefit by what they repeat or read, it is rather necessary they should understand something about it. Accordingly, a Church Service in plain English was settled, and other laws and regulations were made, completely establishing the great work of the Reformation. The Romish bishops were not harshly dealt with, and the Queen's ministers were both prudent and
The one great trouble of this reign was Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. She was the daughter of the Queen Regent of
Scotland, Mary of Guise. She had been married, when a mere child, to the Dauphin, the son and heir of the King of France. The Pope, who pretended that no one could rightfully wear the crown of England without his gracious permission, was strongly opposed to Elizabeth, who had not asked for the said gracious permission. And as Mary Queen of Scots would have inherited the English crown in right of her birth, supposing the English Parliament not to have altered the succession, the Pope and most of his followers maintained that Mary was the rightful Queen of England, and Elizabeth the wrongful Queen.