When you think of english history, the first thing that comes that comes to mind is usually Queen Elizabeth. If you’re wondering why, well here’s why. Elizabeth’s reign is known as the Elizabethan era. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. But before we get deeper into her achievements, I’ll first talk about her beginnings and how she became the queen of England.
Elizabeth was born in September 7, 1533 in of course, England. She was the daughter of Henry VIII (anothrr famous name in history) and Anne Boleyn which was Henry the eighth’s second wife. Anne was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth’s birth. This is important because when Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Elizabeth’s half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward’s will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey.
During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels. I know, sounds bad right? But Mary’s reign did not last long, for in 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel. She depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England.
Putting this aside for a while, many people at that time expected Elizabeth to marry someone and produce a heir to continue the Tudor line, but she never did. As she grew older, Elizabeth became famous for her virginity, despite numerous courtships. Imagine that, so many admirers turned down. Anyway, going back to more important things, Elizabeth was careful when it came to foreign affairs, manoeuvring between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland.
By the mid-1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain. England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history. After this, near the end of her reign, Elizabeth encountered economic and military problems that damaged her popularity by a bit. She even had a rival. Her rival’s name was Mary, Queen of Scots. Elizabeth had her imprisoned and then excuted a few years later. To wrap up, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.