Young Elizabeth and the Seymour scandal

After Henry VIII’s death in 1547, Elizabeth went to live with her stepmother, Katherine Parr, leading to a near-disaster. 

In 1547, Katherine Parr, Elizabeth's stepmother, married Thomas Seymour, the Lord Admiral and King Edward's younger Seymour uncle. Thomas was vain, handsome, ambitious and extremely jealous of his elder brother's power as Lord Protector to the young king.

The Seymour scandal

Thomas’s marriage to Katherine brought him into close contact with Elizabeth who was blossoming into an attractive young woman. He began making advances towards the princess and the ensuing scandal thrust Elizabeth abruptly into the harsh adult world.

Accused of treason

When Katherine died in 1548, shortly after giving birth, Seymour decided he could further his political ambitions by marrying Elizabeth and seizing control of the King. He was arrested in January 1549 and executed for treason by his brother, the Lord Protector, in March 1549.

Elizabeth was interrogated about her part in the plans but skillfully denied the charges of treason and was eventually exonerated.

Elizabeth's self-possession helped her survive the scandal and she demonstrated a remarkable maturity for a 15-year-old. The very public nature of the scandal made her acutely aware of the importance of protecting her sexual reputation. This brush with the accusation of treason was not to be her last.

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