Queen Elizabeth I was best-known as the kick-ass Virgin Queen of Britain who never married, but that never stopped people, then or now, from wondering about her love life and possible secret love children. But Lizzie experienced a horrific childhood drama few know about.
It's no surprise that Henry VIII's final wife, Catherine Parr, probably wasn't super in love with her obese husband. So when he died in January 1547, the Dowager Queen immediately turned her gaze on a guy for whom she'd had eyes for a while: forty-year-old Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour, brother of Henry's third wife, Jane. The two started flirting outrageously, and it seems that Thomas was really into Cat herself. Understandably, they tried to keep their romance hush-hush, but that didn't last long; that very spring, Tom and Catherine tied the knot.
Many people weren't thrilled with the match, which gave the Seymours even more control over the young King Edward VI, a Seymour through his late mother. But the match did get the Dowager Queen and her new husband custody of one of Henry VIII's three kids: the young Elizabeth. At only fourteen years old, Elizabeth was already a veteran of court intrigue, starting with her own very birth and the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. But nothing could prepare her for her own family's manipulations.
Thomas Seymour, Elizabeth's awful stepfather.
The specifics of what happened when Elizabeth lived in her stepmother's household are vague, but they're enough to hint at disgusting behavior on Thomas Seymour's part. Rumors state that Tom flirted outrageously with her, spanked her, entered into the young princess's bedroom before she got dressed while semi-nude himself.
He also climbed into Elizabeth's bed and kissed her. Once, he even came upon her in the garden and, while Catherine pinned Lizzie down, tore her clothes off her. Oh, and did we mention that, for much of this time, Seymour's wife, Elizabeth's stepmother, was pregnant?
Seymour really was an ass, especially when it came to women. Catherine died in childbirth in September 1548, but Tom was already on the look-out for his next bride. The perfect pick? Elizabeth, who was in line to the throne and of marriageable age (by sixteenth-century standards). Eager to make himself a potential future king, Terrible Tom courted Elizabeth and tried to convince his nephew, King Edward, of it; Lizzie's governess, Katherine Ashley, enamored of that disgusting dude, encouraged the match.
Thankfully, this scheming S.O.B. got his comeuppance. In January 1549, Thomas was arrested and shipped to the Tower of London. Why? Besides being a perv and trying to get in line for the throne by marrying the girl he probably molested, Tom also conspired against his brother, the regent Duke of Somerset. His fate? Execution! And, of course, Elizabeth survived...and throve.