Queen Elizabeth, the first, proved to be a very good and loyal monarch to England. She brought about many changes, both good and bad. On September 7, 1533 a baby girl came into the world. Back then many parents would have been greatly disappointed to have had a baby girl, rather then a boy. However these parents were glad by the birth of their first child together. These proud parents were the king and queen of England, King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. The girl child was named Elizabeth. The only reason for the birth of Elizabeth had been that she would have been male so that he could have been the heir to King Henry the VIII.
It wasn’t until two years later that Henry realized he wasn’t going to get a healthy male heir from Anne Boleyn. She had miscarried twice before delivering a stillborn son. When Elizabeth was two her father had her mother beheaded for adultery and treason, this was just a way to rid himself of her rather then get a divorce. This was not Henry’s first wife; this was his second wife. His first wife had also born him a female child. He had divorced her in hopes that he would get an heir from Anne. With his first wife, Catherine, he had a daughter, which they named Mary.
Between the time of Elizabeth’s mothers death and 1537 Henry married yet again. The woman was named Jane Seymour and she cared greatly for Elizabeth. She forced Henry to take Elizabeth back into the house, as it was, Elizabeth had been sent away for schooling and whatnot. In 1537 Elizabeth’s new stepmother, Jane Seymour, gave birth to a son, the birth of this son however brought about the death of Jane from bed fever. The child was named Edward. Once Edward had been born Elizabeth faded into the background, everyday receiving less and less attention. From the time Edward was born Elizabeth spent a lot of time with him.
Growing up they were very close, they spent all of their spare time together. The only real time that the two of them were apart was when it came to schooling. She received her education under the famous scholar and humanist Roger Ascham. Under his guidance, Elizabeth studied Greek and Roman classics, read history and theology, and learned both classical and modern languages. She was considered extremely intelligent, and records say that, in her youth, she spoke six languages. In 1547 Henry VIII died. At the age of fourteen Edward became King Edward VI. He died only six short years later.
Elizabeth’s older half-sister, Mary Tudor came to the throne. Mary, who was Catholic, earned the nickname “Bloody Mary”. During the time that Bloody Mary was at the throne she married Philip of Spain, soon to be Philip the second. However Parliament blocked his accession to the English throne. She burned many Protestants at the stake. When rebels wanted to place Elizabeth on the throne Queen Mary had her arrested and sent to the Tower of London and later on to Woodstock. She remained imprisoned for five years until Mary, near death, named Elizabeth her successor. On March 17, 1558, the last Tudor monarch of England ascended the throne.
Elizabeth initially did not want to face the heated conflict between the Catholics and Protestants in England. However Mary Stuart forced her to. The Catholic Mary, queen of Scotland, was the grandniece of Henry VIII and the next in line to the throne. Accused of murdering her second husband, Henry Stuart Darnley, Mary fled to England to escape a rebellion in Scotland. Many European and English Catholics plotted to put her on the throne. To protect her crown, Elizabeth had her cousin Mary Placed under house arrest in 1567. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s throne was threatened from the outside forces.
Philip II, who became ruler of Spain and its empire in 1556, sought to control the world. England and many other European countries were jealous of Spain’s riches, especially in the New World. Elizabeth allowed her seamen to raid Spanish ships on the high seas. Between 1557 and 1580, Francis Drake sailed around the world, becoming the first man, after Francis Magellan to do so. On his trip he ravaged Spanish settlements in South America, returning to England with 1,000,000 in treasure. Elizabeth knighted him aboard his ship, the Golden Hind, worsening already tense relations between Protestants England and catholic Spain.
During the 1580’s, Elizabeth began to harshly persecute Catholics in England. She sent hundreds to their deaths. Many felt the horrors of the wrack, the manacles, and the Scavenger’s daughter. The Scavenger’s Daughter was an iron hoop that brought a victim’s hands, head, and feet together into a tight ball until he or she was crushed. One of the reasons for the persecutions was a series of Catholic plots to murder Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. Finally, in 1586, Mary’s part in these plots were proven and she was beheaded the following February. Mary’s death was the final blow to the English- Spanish relations.
Philip II declared war. In July 1588, a huge navy fleet, the Spanish Armada, set sail for England. The English navy led by Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher, rose to meet the armada in a nine- day battle. The smaller, quicker English ships easily outmaneuvered the Spanish galleons, but could not move close enough to attack. The Spaniards, however, made the mistake one night of anchoring their entire fleet, and the English sent a squadron of flaming ships into the anchored vessels. Scared, the armada cut it’s lines and fled to open waters. Chased by the English the Spanish tried to sail north around the British Isles.
However storm after storm pounded the armada and about half the fleet was lost. Their war continued for fifteen years. The Spaniards could not overcome the English. Elizabeth’s reign after the defeat of the armada was beset by troubles. Her control over her country’s religious, political, and economic problem’s, as well as her presentation of herself, began to show severe strains. Bad harvests, inflation, and unemployment caused by the loss of public morale. Corruption and greed led to wide spread popular hatred for Elizabeth’s favorites, to whom she had given lucrative and much resented monopolies.
By the turn of the century, even her admirers, such as Sir Walter Raleigh, said she was “a lady surprised by time”. Queen Elizabeth had never married and had never born any children this brought about the nicknames such as Good Queen Bess, and The Virgin Queen. Oftentimes poets compared her to the Moon Goddess, to a Virgin and Fertility Goddess, the bringer of justice, and the cornerstone of the Empire. Painters portrayed her in impossible magnificence and with the symbols of peace, virtue, majesty, and truth.
During Elizabeth’s reign there was a boom of the arts that would be impossible for almost any other period of English history to match. Edmund Spencer, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and Ben Johnson are great names not only in English literature, but also in World literature. The English Renaissance was a highlight that appeared bloody, dark, and dreary. Elizabeth’s reign was and still is sometimes referred to as the Elizabethan Period. Shortly before Queen Elizabeth died on March 24, 1603, she designated James VI of Scotland as her successor.