According to existing records Elizabeth I was healthy and active child apart from teething problems as documented by Lady Margaret Bryan. However as she arrived at adolescence her health deteriorated and she began to experience a series of chronic ailments.
There were some very obvious additional stress factors to take into consideration – at six she’d gained her fifth step-mother, a cousin, Katherine Howard. Less than two years later Katherine was sent to the block.
In Katherine Parr Elizabeth found some sort of family life and stability, although on occasion wife number six’s head did not rest easy on her shoulders.
Not long after the death of her father, Thomas Seymour asked her to marry him. She was thirteen. Less that six weeks after Henry VIII’s death Thomas went on to marry Katherine Parr and Elizabeth found herself living in the same household as Seymour. It was not long before the thirty-eight year old began making in appropriate advances to the fourteen year old princess. Ultimately she was sent away from the household, Katherine died after giving birth to Seymour’s daughter and Seymour’s ambition became so great that he once again looked to a taking a Tudor bride. This resulted in his execution. Elizabeth now became ill and required the attended of Edward VI’s physicians.
When Mary Tudor became queen Elizabeth used her health – stomach ache in particular- to avoid attending mass. After Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 Elizabeth began to look ill – so much so that the French ambassador de Noailles reported that she was being poisoned. Mary’s doctors examined her and blamed her poor health on watery humours. And no wonder, Elizabeth spent the years between 1554 and 1558 dissembling. Just before Mary’s death Elizabeth became ill and complained of pain when moving. She also experienced painful swelling. One of the problems was that Mary and her advisors did not know whether she was really ill or not.
Elizabeth also experienced fainting fits, insomnia, debilitating headaches, nightmares and depression. There was much stress involved in the preparation to become Gloriana!
“The Medical Personnel of Elizabeth I (1558–1603).” The Royal Doctors, 1485-1714: Medical Personnel at the Tudor and Stuart Courts, by Elizabeth Lane Furdell, NED – New edition ed., Boydell & Brewer, Rochester, New York; Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2001, pp. 67–97. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt14brw4d.7. Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.
Taylor-Smither, Larissa J. “Elizabeth I: A Psychological Profile.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, 1984, pp. 47–72. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2540839. Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.