Elizabeth I - Queen of England

"Though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my crown: that I have reigned with your loves".

"I think that, at the worst, God has not yet ordained that England shall perish".

Elizabeth was born at Greenwich Palace in London on September 7th 1533. Her parents, Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, wanted a son and heir and were not pleased with the birth of a daughter. At the age of two her mother was beheaded and Elizabeth was exiled from court. She was raised as a Protestant and tutored by the noted scholar Roger Ascham. She under went rigorous training in Greek, Latin, rhetoric and philosophy and was an intellectually gifted pupil.

When Mary I; a Catholic; came to power in 1553 Elizabeth was sought out to lead Protestant conspiracies. Despite the fact that she had supported Mary's accession and attended Catholic services Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London and threatened with execution.

On Mary's death in 1558, Elizabeth was released from house arrest and placed on the throne. It was a time of serious problems for England. At home, there were serious quarrels between Catholics and Protestants and abroad there were threats of invasion from Spain and France.

By her effective use of Parliament and the Privy Council, and by the development of legal institutions in the counties, Elizabeth firmly established Protestantism in England and encouraged English enterprise and commerce. Where possible she made peace with our neighbours, but, when war could not be avoided, she encouraged English troops with rousing speeches. The defeat of the Spanish Armada was a cause for national celebration, and "Glorious 88" was spoken of generations later when Elizabeth's birthday was still celebrated as a national holiday.

The defeat of Spain established the glory of the English navy and inspired merchants and explorers, such as Raleigh and Drake to seek treasure abroad and claim new lands for England. Back at home her reign was noted for the English Renaissance, an outpouring of poetry and drama led by William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe that remains unsurpassed in literary history.

When Elizabeth died, one of the greatest epochs of English history ended. Her 45 year rule decisively shaped the future of England as a stable monarchy governed through the cooperation of crown and local elites. Elizabeth I is known as one of England's greatest ever monarchs and to this day her reign is known as England's Golden Age.

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