A Comparison of Powerful Female Monarchs: Elizabeth I and Catherine de Medici

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On the eve of her coronation, Elizabeth I said, “I will be as good unto you as ever a queen was unto her people” (Grant, 140). Elizabeth I of England and Catherine de Medici of France were both powerful female monarchs during the Renaissance whose rules shaped the current religious affiliations of France and England. The reigns of Elizabeth and Catherine differed in their extent of power and matrimony, but were similar in influence and support of the arts, and Elizabeth was ultimately the more successful monarch.

Elizabeth’s and Catherine’s reigns differed in their amount of power over the government and church. For example, by the Parliamentary Act of Supremacy, Elizabeth was the Supreme Governor of the Church of England (Doran, 14)
“Albeit the king’s Majesty is justly and rightfully is and oweth to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and is so recognized by the clergy of this realm…be it enacted, by the authority of this present Parliament, that the king…his heirs and successors…shall be taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England” (Dickens, 64).
She had to consort with Parliament and her council, but she was still powerful in her own right and made the final decisions. Catherine, on the other hand, had many more obstacles to overcome. After her husband, Henry II, died in a jousting accident, and her son, Francis II, died from an ear infection, Catherine became the queen regent for her son, Charles (Catherine de Medici

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