Queen Elizabeth I of England said that several centuries ago.
Today is the anniversary of her birth, BTW.
She was born in 1533.
The product of an affair and an earth shaking scandal, Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace. Her mother was the infamous and tragic Anne Boleyn.
She was an enormous disappointment to her father Henry VIII.
He’d wanted a boy.
At the age of two years and eight months, she lost her mother to the sword when Anne Boleyn was beheaded by a Frenchman on the tower lawn. She’d been accused, “tired”, and convicted of treason in that she’d had illicit affairs with several other men.
The Queen having an affair was treason; the King having an affair was expected.
Elizabeth was immediately declared illegitimate and lost her place in the succession.
Less than a fortnight after her mother lost her head, Elizabeth’s daddy married his third wife, Jane Seymour. Seymour gave Elizabeth a half brother, Edward. She had an older sister, Mary, the daughter of Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Her childhood and adolescence was rough to say the least; her mother beheaded, a succession of step-mothers, reared by governesses, a constant threat of accusal, palace intrigue, a penny-pinching father who held the purse strings, and a sister who considered her a heretic to name a few.
Yet, when after a quarter of a century she ascended the throne of England upon the death of her sister, Mary I, she ushered in one of the greatest eras of all time.
Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Johsnon, Thomas Middleton, and Christopher Marlowe change literature and theater forever. Sir Francis Drake was the second man and the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, proving to the Queen there was a route to China and a possibility of colonization. Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and others sought for lands to conquer.
The Church of England was solidified as the state church, the break with Rome was finalized, and the canon was provided to the masses in a language they could understand.
And though many believed touching a man about to be executed, a cow breathing on you, or spitting into a fire could bring a person good luck, there were strides in science, medicine, and industry.
When she took the throne at the age of 25, she was one of the most educated women in England – in Europe for that matter. She learned Greek, Latin, Flemish, Italian, and Spanish and could hold her own with the foreign ministers who lorded their wealth, power, and sex over her.
She spoke all the languages of the British Isles; Welsh, Cornish, Scottish, and Irish. The ambassador from Venice said, “…possessed languages so thoroughly that each appeared to be her native tongue…”
She ruled for over 44 years defying all odds to get to the throne.
She stood UP to all who opposed her.
She loved the way she wanted.
She lived the way she wanted.
She ruled the way she wanted.
Yet, she felt the pain of the past throughout her life. The loss of a mother at an early age, the question of her father’s love and loyalty, the fear of her sister, the weight of the crown all defined her.
There is no indication she tried to cure the past.
She recognized it for what it was and moved on.
In a big way.
She may not have cured the past, but she most certainly changed the future.
Can we learn from that?
I hope so.