How Queen Elizabeth I Croaked
Elizabeth the Great
Queen Elizabeth I is widely agreed to be the most popular and effective monarch England ever had, ruling from 1558 to 1603. This was an era in which women had no rights. The only thing women were good for was marriage and child making. Yet at age 25, Elizabeth took the crown, kept the country from bankruptcy, allowed the arts to flourish, stopped the Spanish armada and won over the love of her people, all without a husband or king ruling for, or even beside, her.
The Virgin Queen
Elizabeth was advised to marry and produce an heir, but that would've meant handing over all her power to her husband. Elizabeth didn't want that. She was a sharp, intelligent woman fully capable of ruling England on her own and she knew it. "I am already bound unto an husband, which is the kingdom of England," she famously declared. The unwed Elizabeth earned the title of 'the Virgin Queen'. It can neither be proved nor disproved if she ever remained that way.
Even for the era in which she existed, Queen Elizabeth I lived a life of peril. Her father, King Henry VIII of England, was outraged that she was not a boy. Her Catholic sister, Queen Mary, imprisoned her for being a Protistant. As many people were not happy with a female leader, Elizabeth was a popular target for assassination. Add in the rampant disease, poor hygiene and lead poisoning, and it's truly a miracle Elizabeth lived as long as she did.
One particular aspect of Queen Elizabeths' ruling plan was her decision to make England a Protestant nation. Her father, King Henry VIII, was the first to break away from the Catholic Church, and while Elizabeths' sister, Queen Mary, had reestablished Catholicism during her reign, Elizabeth threw it out the window again. This was a pretty big deal for the time. The Spanish were so against this that they tried to invade England in 1588 to force the Catholic Church back upon her people. Luckily, the English scored a great victory in destroying 130 of the invading Spanish ships, effectively stopping King Philips' attempt cold.
In the days of Queen Elizabeth, medicine did not exist. The only things a doctor carried with him were a knife, a flint, a cup and a medico-astrology chart. Fewer than half the people a doctor treated survived. Demonic possession was believed to be the source of all headaches, and the treatment was having a hole bored into you head with a mallet. The only bit of medicinal knowledge known by doctors to be even remotely accurate was that if you were sick, your blood was bad. Yes, this is correct, as the infection will be in your blood, but draining your blood will not make it go away. Yet this is what people did for illness.
How She Finally Croaked
At the age of 69 years, Elizabeths' body was beginning to weaken. In a severe depression resulting from the deaths of some of her closest friends, an infection hit her hard. The infection was most likely pneumonia. Her hands swelled to elephantine proportions, her throat developed numerous sores and her temperature shot up. But even in her final weeks Elizabeth was a stubborn woman. She saw the bed as a symbol of the end, so she had her servants cover the floor with cushions. For three weeks she sat there, refusing to be treated by doctors. Considering the fact that no doctor knew anything about healing in those days, this decision is probably what let her last as long as she did. Her servants and advisers begged her to return to bed, but she listened to no one. By the end of the three weeks the sores in her throat had made it impossible to eat, and her stomach was paining her too. The popping of one of the larger sores gave her some physical relief, but only worsened her in the long run. Queen Elizabeth finally told her servants to help her to her feet. They were relieved, but grew disturbed again when she stood in the exact same position for 15 hours straight. As stated before; she was stubborn to the end. By now the infection was moving into her chest, and Elizabeth was really starting to fail. She finally got into bed and died there, in the early morning of March 24, 1603, drawling an end to Englands' great Golden Era.