Girls' formal education has traditionally been considered far less important than that of boys. In Europe, exceptions were rare before the printing press and the Reformation made literacy more widespread. One notable exception to the general neglect of girls' literacy is Queen Elizabeth I. In her case, as a child she was in a precarious position as a possible heir to the throne, and her life was in fact endangered by the political scheming of other powerful members of the court. Following the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was considered illegitimate. Her education was for the most part ignored by Henry VIII. Remarkably, Henry VIII's widow, Catherine Parr, took an interest in the high intelligence of Elizabeth, and supported the decision to provide her with an impressive education after Henry's death, starting when Elizabeth was 9. Elizabeth received an education equal to that of a prominent male aristocrat; she was educated in Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, philosophy, history, mathematics and music. England reaped the reward of her rich education when circumstances resulted in her becoming a capable monarch.
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