Elizabeth I
1533 - 1603
Queen of England
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII by his second wife, Anne Boleyn. When Edward VI died she sided with her half-sister Mary against Jane Grey, but her identification with Protestantism made Mary suspicious, and she was imprisoned.

On Mary's death Elizabeth became Queen of England (1558 - 1603).

Elizabeth I made peace with France and Scotland, at the same time helping Protestants in these countries. Following Mary, Queen of Scots' flight to England and imprisonment, Elizabeth became a target of successive conspiracies by English Catholics.

As a result she ordered Mary's execution. In response to papal excommunication she approved anti-Catholic legislation and renewed royal supremacy over the Church.

Always pressured to marry to form political alliances, she diplomatically seemed to consider it, but in the end always refused. Her greatest success was the defeat of the invading Spanish Armada in 1588 in the waters off England's west coast. Her greatest failures were the suppression of uprisings in Ireland and her long wars.

During Elizabeth's colorful 45 year reign, England became the leading Protestant power and established her basis as a colonial power.

The Elizabethan age saw great national vigour with the maritime exploits of Hawkins, Drake, and Raleigh, and a literary renaissance of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Spenser.

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