Elizabeth I of England
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|The "Darnley Portrait" of Elizabeth I (c. 1575)|
|Reign||17 November 1558 –
24 March 1603
|Coronation||15 January 1559|
|Predecessors||Mary I and Philip|
|House||House of Tudor|
|Born||7 September 1533
Palace of Placentia, Greenwich, England
|Died||24 March 1603
Richmond Palace, Surrey, England
Elizabeth I of England (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was the Queen of England, Ireland, and nominal claimant to Queen of France. She reigned from 17 November 1558 until she died in 1603. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn, his second wife. Elizabeth was the last of the Tudor monarchs. When Boleyn was disgraced at court and executed, Elizabeth's life became one of tribulations, including imprisonment in the Tower of London.
Despite her tribulations, Elizabeth reigned with intelligence and diligence. Her reign was distinguished with great achievements in the arts, trade, and exploration. She ably defended her country through the days of the Spanish Armada. She never married, but had several favorites. At her death in 1603, King James IV of Scotland was named her successor.
Early life[change | change source]
Elizabeth was born in 1533 at Greenwich, England. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII of England and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She had an older half-sister Mary, and, in time, a younger half-brother Edward.
When she was thirteen years old, King Henry died. Elizabeth's younger half-brother, Edward, became King Edward VI of England. He died age 15. Mary succeeded him in 1553, and after Mary's death in 1558, Elizabeth became Queen.
Achievements as Queen[change | change source]
Mary had established the Roman Catholic religion in England. Elizabeth returned the nation to the Protestant faith established by her father. She did however retain some of the Catholic traditions. She wanted her subjects to exhibit at least an outward show of conformity to the Protestant faith.
The years of Elizabeth's reign were marked with many artistic achievements. William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and other writers created enduring drama and poetry. Composers Thomas Tallis and William Byrd worked at Elizabeth's court.
During her reign, many men sought adventure abroad. Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Humphrey Gilbert, and other "sea dogs" looted Spanish ships. They also sailed to the Americas. In 1580, Drake became the first Englishman to sail around the world. The expeditions of these men prepared England for an age of colonisation and trade expansion. In 1600, Elizabeth herself established a trading company known as the East India Company.
Spanish Armada[change | change source]
England and Spain had long been at odds. Elizabeth encouraged Protestants in the Spanish-held Netherlands to rebel against Spain. She also encouraged her "sea dogs" to raid Spanish ships. In 1588, King Philip II of Spain had had enough. He sent an armada (a large fleet of ships) to invade England. Elizabeth met her troops at Tilbury telling them: "I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king - and of a King of England too." The armada was met by England's smaller, more maneuverable ships on 29 July 1588. The armada was defeated not only by Englands troops and their smaller ships, but by bad weather over Scotland and Ireland as the surviving Spanish ships sailed for Spain.
Queen's favorites[change | change source]
Elizabeth never married, and she had no children. However, she did have favorites. Prominent among these favorites was Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester. Later, she turned to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. He wanted to overthrow the government of the Queen, but was defeated and executed.
Elizabeth's death[change | change source]
Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch, and reigned for 45 years. The date of her accession was a national holiday for two hundred years. 
References[change | change source]
- The Official Website of the British Monarchy: Elizabeth I (r.1558-1603), The Royal Household, http://www.royal.gov.uk/historyofthemonarchy/kingsandqueensofengland/thetudors/elizabethi.aspx, retrieved 8-29-2014
- BBC History: Elizabeth I, BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/people/elizabeth_I, retrieved 8-29-2014
- Gibbs, Gary C. (2012), Elizabeth I, 6, The World Book Encyclopedia
- BBC History: Robert, Earl of Essex (1566 - 1601), BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/earl_of_essex_robert.shtml, retrieved 8-29-2014