elizabeth raleigh

Elizabeth I in TV and film, from Bernhardt to Blanchett – in pictures

Sarah Bernhardt


Shot in Paris in 1912, Les Amours d’Elisabeth, Reine d’Angleterre or The Loves of Elizabeth, Queen of England was a short four-reel French silent film based on the love affair between Elizabeth I of England and the Earl of Essex.

Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex.

Flora Robson

The Sea Hawk was a 1940 American Warner Bros. feature film starring Errol Flynn as privateer defending his interests against the Armada.

Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex.

Bette Davis

The Virgin Queen was a 1955 DeLuxe Color historical swashbuckler in CinemaScope focusing on the relationship between Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh, and was the second time Davis played the English monarch; the first was 1939’s The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex.

Glenda Jackson

Elizabeth R was a BBC TV drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971.

Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex.

Miranda Richardson

Elizabeth I was portrayed hilariously as Queenie in the 1985 BBC comedy sitcom Blackadder Part II.

Photograph: BBC.

Anne-Marie Duff

The Virgin Queen, from 2006, explored her whole life, from days of fear as a potential victim of her sister’s terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley into her years of triumph over the Armada, and finally her old age and enigmatic relationship with the Earl of Essex.

Photograph: BBC.

Cate Blanchett

The 1998 feature film Elizabeth is loosely based on the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign.

Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex.

Helen Mirren

Elizabeth in the TV serial Elizabeth I, for Channel 4 and HBO, for which she received an Emmy Award in 2005.

Photograph: Channel 4.

Cate Blanchett 

The sequel to 1998’s Elizabeth, the 2007 feature Elizabeth: The Golden Age covered the later part of her reign.

Photograph: Universal/Allstar.

Vanessa Redgrave

Columbia Pictures’ 2011 Anonymous presents Lord Oxford as the true author of William Shakespeare’s plays, and dramatizes events around the succession to Queen Elizabeth I, and the Earl of Essex’s rebellion against her.

Photograph: Columbia Pictures.

Anita Dobson

The BBC has announced that Anita Dobson will play Queen Elizabeth I in the dramatic reconstruction forArmada, a BBC2 documentary series airing this spring.

Photograph: Mark Edger/BBC/PA.

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Sir Walter Raleigh is Executed

29 October 1618

Sir Walter Raleigh was executed in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster on this day in British history, 29 October 1618. After Elizabeth I died in 1603, Raleigh was implicated as a foe of King James I and sentenced to death. The death sentence was later commuted, and in 1616 Raleigh was freed to lead an expedition to the New World, this time to establish a gold mine in the Orinoco River region of South America. However, the expedition was a failure, and when Raleigh returned to England the death sentence of 1603 was invoked against him.

On the day of his execution, Raleigh is supposed to have said to his executioner: “Let us dispatch. At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear.” And when he beheld the axe that would end his life, he remarked: “This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries.” Finally, according to many biographers Raleigh’s last words, as his head lay on the chopping block, were “Strike, man, strike!”

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October 29th 1618: Sir Walter Raleigh executed

On this day in 1618, English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded aged 65. Raleigh is best known for his exploration of North America which paved the way for English colonisation. In 1594 he set off to find the fabled ‘City of Gold’ in South America and his writings contributed to the legend of ‘El Dorado’. Despite having been knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1585, Raleigh was not liked by James I and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for alleged conspiracy against the King and executed.