||Elizabeth I (Tudor) of England was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.|
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Mary I and Philip
|Queen of England and Ireland
17 Nov 1558 - 24 Mar 1603
Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1558-1603)
Known as ‘Gloriana’, the first Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) is remembered as one of England’s most influential monarchs. A descendant of the Tudor line, Elizabeth’s 45-year reign was colorized by great successes and a jubilant Elizabethan Age. But unlike previous sovereigns, receipt of the crown would not come as a simple birthright for Elizabeth.
The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth’s childhood was marred with uncertainty. When Elizabeth’s mother failed to give King Henry a son, she was executed on charges of adultery. Viewed as an illegitimate child, Elizabeth’s succession seemed ill-fated. Behind her half-sister, Mary, and upon the birth of her half-brother, Edward, in 1537, Elizabeth stood third in line for the crown. Despite these tribulations Elizabeth received an excellent education and inherited a prudent morale character from her parents. These favorable attributes would later serve Elizabeth well.
When Elizabeth finally ascended the throne in 1558 at just 25, England was a country in turmoil; torn apart by bitter religious conflict and mounting political tension. Gender aside, countrymen had little confidence that Elizabeth could provide the solid foundation and leadership that England so desperately needed. She would quickly prove otherwise. By gaining the support of her male constituents and leveraging the Tudor concept of firm rule, Elizabeth I was triumphant in preventing the outbreak of civil and religious war within the boundaries of England.
Elizabeth’s shrewd political tactics helped propel England into a prominent position of European power and greatly expanded the kingdom’s reach in the New World with the exploratory voyages of Sir Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh. The Elizabethan Age was also a peak in English Renaissance. Amid expressive art and poetry, literature blossomed with the fanciful works of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Edmund Spencer. Elizabeth inspired an exuberant national spirit.
Not everyone favored Elizabeth's policy to restore the Protestant faith in England. Plots to depose her, and return the country to Catholicism cropped up time and again, but they ultimately failed. And along the way, Elizabeth I ended up executing more Catholics, than her sister Mary I, killed Protestants. 
Elizabeth's cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots -- devout Catholic and likely successor -- was at the heart of Catholic rebellion. So, Elizabeth imprisoned her for 19 years, then ordered her trial and execution ... after another treasonous affair came to light.
In 1587, Stuart was executed with an axe. But the execution of a Catholic princess by a Protestant queen enraged many of the "Pope's faithful", including Mary I's widower, Philip II of Spain. Relations between England and Spain were already strained. Yet, Elizabeth's covert privateers raided rich Spanish vessels and ports, while her soldiers supported Protestant Dutchmen rebelling against Catholic Spanish rule.
Encouraged by the Pope, Philip II in 1588 sent his Spanish Armada to raid England. It was during this famous segment of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604) that Elizabeth stirringly addressed her troops:
It was a close battle, but Elizabeth won and England remained under Protestant rule.
Although she received many proposals and had many potential suitors, Elizabeth chose to never marry or have children. Elizabeth died in 1603, bringing an end to the remarkable Tudor dynasty. (The Catholic James I, son of Mary Stuart, was Elizabeth's royal successor.) Although her death would mark the passing of a glorious era, the legacy of Queen Elizabeth I would forever live on.
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