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Education of Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth Ist

"Queen Elizabeth Ist"

Education of Queen Elizabeth I
Princess Elizabeth was an extremely bright child and a great deal of attention was paid to her education. The Education of Elizabeth was greatly enhanced by her opportunities to share the tutors of her half-brother Edward, who often resided in the same household in Hatfield. Many of these tutors were the brightest minds from Cambridge University - Hatfield was considered to be a satellite of Cambridge University.

She therefore benefited from the instruction of many tutors. Her first tutor was her governess Kat Ashley. Elizabeth praised Kat’s early devotion to her studies by stating that she took “great labor and pain in bringing of me up in learning and honesty”. Kat was extremely well educated and would have taught Elizabeth grammar and the English language. Elizabeth's love of learning enabled her to learn new subjects with great ease and enthusiasm.

Early Education of Elizabeth
Kat Ashley would have taught Elizabeth the alphabet and the rudiments of English Grammar together with reading and writing skills using parchment and a horn-book. A horn-book was a piece of parchment usually pasted on to a small wooden board with a handle, and covered with a thin plate of transparent horn ( from where the name of horn-book was derived ). The horn-book displayed the alphabet in both small letters and capital letters. The Lord's Prayer in English was also included on the horn-book together with the mark of the cross, hence the alphabet detailed on the horn-book was known as ' Christcross-row ' or ' chris-cross '. The Elizabethan alphabet contained just 24 old English letters as opposed to the 26 letters used in the modern English alphabet.

The Education of Elizabeth - her Tutors
Kat Ashley was her governess and first tutor but by the time she was five years old Elizabeth would have been expected to learn foreign languages and various subjects. Elizabeth shared the Tutors of her brother Edward who was also tutored with Lady Jane Grey and the young sons of John Dudley. The names of these tutors included the following:

  • Jean Belmain - French Tutor
  • Richard Cox - Provost of Eton taught Greek and Latin
  • John Cheke
  • William Grindal - appointed as personal Tutor to Elizabeth but died of the plague in 1548
  • He was replaced by Roger Ascham

John Dee was known to have taught the sons of John Dudley Mathematics, Astronomy and Astrology. It is possible that John Dee also taught Elizabeth.

The Education of Elizabeth - her lessons and studies
Elizabeth was taught a range of different lessons as part of a standard curriculum for the royal children. Her studies included languages, grammar, theology, history, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, arithmetic, logic, literature, geometry, and music. She was also taught religious studies. Great attention was given to the study of languages. Roger Ascham’s most widely known and accepted educational device was the art of double translation. Roger Ascham wrote that Elizabeth developed a style that

" grows out of the subject; chaste because it is suitable, and beautiful because it is clear...   Her ears are so well practised in discriminating all these things and her judgement is so good, that in all Greek, Latin, and English compositions there is nothing so loose on the one hand or so concise on the other which she does not immediately attend to, and either reject with disgust or receive with pleasure as the case may be."

The daily lessons were divided into the morning lesson and the afternoon lesson. Cicero and Livy were closely studied. By the age of eleven Elizabeth was able to speak fluently in six languages - French, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Welsh and of course English. Ascham praised Elizabeth for her aptitude in learning languages and her retentive memory.

The Education of Elizabeth
Elizabeth was often considered a serious child due to her amazing capacity for and her love of learning. But she also enjoyed playing, just like other children. Her education also included non-academic subjects befitting a lady of her rank and status. These other lessons included sewing, embroidery, dancing, music, archery, riding and hunting. Roger Ascham also remarked that Elizabeth had the intelligence of a man and this held her in good stead in the years of her reign. Her handwriting was beautiful and her elegant style can be seen from examples of her signature. Teenage Scandal of Princess Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth I
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