Had she been born male her mother would likely not have been executed; her father wouldn't have had Parliament bastardize her, her life would have been radically different.
Elizabeth was born 7 September, 1533 and shared her Christian name with both grandmothers - Elizabeth of York, and Elizabeth Boleyn.
Her infancy was unremarkable (with the possible exception of her father's disappointment in her gender) and she grew to toddlerhood accustomed to being called 'lady Princess.'
She knew who her parents were, but as was the custom of children of the monarch, she was raised in her own household, and day-to-day contact with her father and mother was nonexistent.
There were times when she was in the presence of her parents, but those times were infrequent.
After her mother went afoul of her father's goodwill and was executed for little more reason than 1. not producing a living male child and 2. having a smart mouth on her, Elizabeth and her older half-sister, Mary, were bastardized and disinherited in June, 1536.
At that time, the red-haired toddler lived at Hunsdon House
|Hunsdon House - after centuries of renovation, Elizabeth I might not recognize most of the building|
When the little girl was bastardized, Shelton (who carried out the wishes of the King) set out the order that she be called Lady Elizabeth in keeping with her 'demotion.'
The black-eyed tot called out Shelton on it.
She's reported to have said, "How haps (happens) it, Governor, yesterday my lady Princess; today but my lady Elizabeth?"
Smart, and didn't miss a trick.
After her mother's execution, Elizabeth was no longer front of mind for anyone at her father's court.
The woman in charge of her, Lady Margaret Bryan, realized unless she spoke up, little Elizabeth would wear too-small clothing as no provision had been made to allow for new duds for the child; a kid whose size is 3T really can't wear 18-24month sized clothes.
Lady Bryan also spoke up, in a letter to Thomas Cromwell, about John Shelton's plan to include the little girl at the adult's table for her meals.
A child oughtn't be eating rich, spicy foods and drinking strong wines for her meals, Lady Bryan wrote, and she begged Cromwell to allow a budget for nursery expenses for the toddler.
Lady Margaret Bryan was Elizabeth's second champion; her first champion was her own mother, Anne Boleyn, who went to her death speaking words of praise for the man who'd signed her death warrant rather than risk his ire at the little girl.
Henry VIII ordered his two daughters to court in October, 1536, when the Pilgrimage of Grace religious revolt shook England.
His kids might have been bastards, but they were his kids - he wanted them safe and after all, he didn't really know if he'd ever have more.
The following year, Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, welcomed a son on 12 October, 1537.
The birth of Prince Edward made Henry VIII very happy and very, very relieved - although his happiness quickly did a 180 degree turnaround when Jane Seymour died just under two weeks later.
Thomas Cromwell appointed a governess for Elizabeth at that time; Catherine Champernowne - the closest thing to an ongoing maternal figure the little girl ever had in her life.
Nick-named 'Cat' by Elizabeth, Catherine Champernowne later married, but that did not interfere with her hands-on loving care of the young girl.
The young Elizabeth often traveled from residence to residence, as was standard in the sixteenth century; when one lodging became dirty from all the people who were on progress with members of the royal family, and when those people had literally eaten their host out of house and home, they moved on to another residence.
During the travel from place to place, Elizabeth learned an awful lot about how to be gracious to common people who waved and called greetings to her as she rode past.
|My bad, wrong enchanting future Queen Elizabeth.|
The people waved and cheered, she waved and smiled back.
Having lost her mother, then a step-mother (Jane Seymour) Elizabeth went through two more step-mothers in quick succession.
The first, Anne of Cleves, didn't 'click' with Henry VIII.
Anne of Cleves negotiated a favorable divorce settlement and lived the rest of her life as a beloved Auntie to Elizabeth and her siblings.
The second, Catherine Howard, cousin to Anne Boleyn, had trouble keeping her knees together and was executed for screwing around on Henry VIII.
The final step-mother to Elizabeth was possibly the best: Catherine Parr.
Catherine Parr loved the royal children, bastards or not.
She was closer in age to Mary than Elizabeth or Edward, but was beloved by all three children.
Her kindness and diplomacy in mentioning the good points of the children to their father went beyond any good will previously shown to them by anybody.
(Catherine Parr knew how to make the most of a bad bargain; it's unlikely none of Henry VIII's children realized that when he proposed to her, her initial reaction was to burst into horrified tears and beg him to take her as a mistress instead.)
When Henry VIII died on 28 January, 1547, his death marked the end of Elizabeth's childhood.
Orphaned, the bastard sister to her brother, Edward VI, Elizabeth had to grow up very quickly.
The thirteen and a half year old girl would never again know the relative safety and security of childhood.
She was plunged headlong into the very adult world of intrigue, seduction and treason by the time she was fourteen.