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Let Tyrants Fear...

"I Have the Heart of a King"

Elizabeth I, Queen of England, placed herself in physical danger when she reviewed her troops on the shores of the English Channel, July 29, 1588, at Tilbury.
      Her nation's military experts were expecting an invasion by Spanish Forces momentarily (note the reference to General Parma in her speech) although the Spanish Armada had been defeated by the English naval forces.
      But most of all, the military and governmental leaders distrusted the English common man troops and demanded a special guard between her and them.
      She declined (as she notes in her speech) and rode among them on horseback in review. Needless to say, none showed any worrisome actions, in fact, many of them knelt before her and shouted "God bless you."
      She then delivered one of the most quoted speeches of all time (although only a few lines are actually quoted by most historians).
      The first two paragraphs below are usually "overlooked." as they speak to the very heart of the woman who under unimaginable difficulties became the most influential ruler in the history of England - and one of the most brilliant diplomats of all time.

      "My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people.

      "Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust.

      "I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

      "I know already, by your forwardness, and that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you.

      "In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."


© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at
We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again.
The text of the documents in the women's history library may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use.



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