Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. She was the daughter of the King of England, Henry VIII Tudor, from a marriage with Anne Boleyn. The time of Elizabeth’s rule is called the Golden Age, in regard to the flourishing culture and the increased importance of England on the world stage.
Elizabeth was born in 1533, in the royal palace in Greenwich. The birth of Elizabeth did not please anyone. The royal family already had a daughter, Princess Mary. She received her name in honor of the mother of Henry VIII, Elizabeth of York. Anne Boleyn was executed on charges of high treason. Henry VIII hastened to marry again and declared Elizabeth illegitimate.
Elizabeth began to show her natural abilities very early. Despite the fact that Elizabeth was still considered to be illegitimate, her education was provided by the best teachers from Cambridge. They were young, free-thinking scientists, followers of the Reformation.
On in 1547, Elizabeth was informed that her father had died. In the will of the king, it was said that he left the throne to his son Edward. In case of Edward’s death, the throne went to Mary, then her children, then Elizabeth and her children.
Catherine Parr, despite the almost maternal love for her stepdaughter, still sent her to Hertfordshire. There Elizabeth continued her studies. In 1551, Edward VI invited her to the court. His son and daughter always treated her with respect. When Edward died in 1553, Elizabeth was in great sorrow.
Early Days and Mary Tudor
On October 1553, Mary I was crowned in London. From the first days of her reign, Mary began to actively rule, her main goal being the return of England to the Catholic Church. The majority of the population of England remained Catholic, but a small group of Protestant nobles, nominated under Henry and Edward, were disproportionately influential in society.
In January 1554, Protestant Thomas Wyatt raised an uprising in Kent with the goal of preventing the marriage between Mary and Philip of Spain. It is likely that the actual purpose of the conspirators was the transfer of the crown to Elizabeth, but Mary’s investigators could not pry any evidence from the captive rebels against Elizabeth. Regardless, Mary imprisoned Elizabeth in the Tower, but at the request of the Council, she kept her alive. In England, there was growing dissatisfaction with the policy of the queen. On the eve of her wedding, the Queen freed her sister from the Tower. However, the princess did not stay at court, she was sent into exile in Woodstock.
Elizabeth was still considered the heir to the throne. The marriage of Mary and Philip was childless. In early November 1558, Queen Mary felt that her days were numbered. The council insisted that she formally appoint a sister as her heiress, but the queen resisted: she knew that Elizabeth would return England to Protestantism, which was hated by Mary. Under pressure from Philip, Mary yielded to the demand of her advisers; realizing that otherwise the country could plunge into civil war. The Queen passed away in 1558, remaining in history as Bloody Mary.
Elizabeth rewarded all those who provided services to her during the period of her disgrace. The first Parliament of Elizabeth was opened on January 25, 1559. Having been entrusted with the crown, the young lady immediately felt the burden of the country, split into two irreconcilable camps: Catholics, and Protestants. Elizabeth did not expel or repress any of the followers of the deceased Mary. With its Act of Uniformity, the queen showed that she would follow the course of Reformation, begun by her predecessors Henry VIII and Edward VI, but Catholics in England were not forbidden to serve Mass. This act of religious tolerance allowed the queen to avoid civil war.
Parliament continued to insist on the choice of a groom. Elizabeth did not intend to share power with a man; but in 1559, she could not openly argue with parliament. The perennial favorite of the queen was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The Queen’s romance with Lord Dudley lasted for more than a decade and was interrupted only by his death in 1588. Throughout her reign, Elizabeth repeatedly stated that their relationship was exclusively platonic.
In May 1559, in neighboring Scotland, a rebellion broke out. Elizabeth refused to support the Protestants of Scotland, realizing that such an intervention could provoke an armed conflict with France, which flooded Scotland with its troops. Even then, at the very beginning of the reign, the queen had developed her own, very cautious, foreign policy. Elizabeth provided material support to the Scottish Protestants. However, in 1560, the Council forced Elizabeth to intervene. The Scottish Protestants, with the support of British troops, defeated the supporters of Maria de Guise, and on July 6, 1560, in Edinburgh, a treaty was signed that consolidated this victory. England and France withdrew their troops from Scotland.
Maria Stewart was asked to stop including in her coat of arms the English coat of arms. In other words, never to claim the English crown. However, Maria did not ratify the Edinburgh Treaty. It was from this moment that began the long feud between two queens. In 1560, Maria Stuart’s husband died, in 1561 she returned to Edinburgh to receive the crown of Scotland.
Elizabeth was the legitimate queen of England, but Maria Stuart until the end of her days was insistent on her rights to the English crown, being the great-granddaughter of Henry VII. Maria Stewart did not appear in the King’s will at all. On the other hand, English Catholics and elsewhere considered it legitimate.
Lady of the Seas and Death
During the reign of Elizabeth, England became a powerful sea power. English seamen regularly plundered Spanish ships and raided Spanish colonial coastlines. England was gradually winning away Spain’s authority as the greatest maritime power. The British fleet then destroyed the Great Spanish Armada. In February 1603, she fell into a deep depression. On March 24, 1603, she died in the palace of Richmond and was buried in Westminster Abbey. With the death of the great queen, the Tudor dynasty ended.