Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
David Van Heemst
R. Curt Rice
Scholarship of Discovery, Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Integration
History remembers Elizabeth Tudor as one of England’s most powerful and influential monarchs. She is known for bringing England into one of its most prosperous and culturally rich periods. Elizabeth is famous for being a unique ruler in many ways. She was a queen in her own right who never took a husband, she commanded one of the strongest navies in Europe, she brokered a religious settlement that cooled the fiery feud between Catholics and Protestants in England, and she did not name her successor until she was on her deathbed.
Elizabeth also did not have a typical royal upbringing. Her childhood and adolescence were fraught with trauma and heartbreak. Suspicion and uncertainty followed her for most of her growing years. By the time Elizabeth took the throne in 1558 as Queen Elizabeth I, she had developed a strong sense of independence and self-reliance. While there has been much literature written on Elizabeth, only a small portion of it focuses mainly on her developmental years. There seems to be a “common sense” connection between her childhood and adulthood, but no solid lines have been drawn by historians to possible psychological explanations.
This paper seeks new territory by answering the question of Elizabeth’s uniqueness with a psychological and developmental look into specific traumatic events in her growing years. Through the theories of noted developmental psychologists Erik Erikson and Lawrence Kohlberg, some of Elizabeth’s adult decisions seek to be explained by the ordeals she experienced in her most formative times of life. Four specific events will be examined in depth, followed by a look at the practical implications of each event on her life. Then each event will be connected to a specific developmental stage from the theory of either Erikson or Kohlberg and the impact of that stage studied. Finally, a connection will be made from that event/psychological impact to a specific decision or trend she made as queen.
Upshaw, Amanda, "The Moral Development of Elizabeth Tudor: From Troubled Youth to Triumphant Monarch" (2012). M.A. in Philosophy of History Theses. 2.