Elizabeth Tudor proved to be one of the most popular monarchs in English
or British history. She helped steady the nation even after inheriting an
enormous national debt from her sister Mary, and under her, England managed
to avoid a crippling Spanish invasion.
Born on 7 September 1533, upon the death of her elder sister, Mary, she claimed the titles of Queen of England,
Queen of France (which by now existed in name only), and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558
until her death on 24 March 1603.
She was popularly known as the Virgin Queen (an image she sought to
exploit in her later years) or Good Queen Bess. The years which formed the
high point of her
reign were termed Gloriana.
Playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe
flourished in Elizabethan England, while English power and influence
She granted a Royal Charter to the British East India Company in 1600,
thus allowing that company to begin accumulating its vast business, and
later territorial, concerns in the east.
The Commonwealth of Virginia in the kingdom's new American colonies was
also named after her, and Elizabeth passed The Act of Uniformity in 1559,
requiring the use of the Protestant Book of Common Prayer in church
In her private life, Elizabeth reputedly wanted to marry Robert Dudley, First Earl
of Leicester. However, until 1560, Dudley was married to Amy Robsart, a fact
which he is widely supposed to have tried to keep from Elizabeth.
died in suspicious circumstances. Afterwards, Elizabeth's council refused to
consider allowing a marriage between the two because of Dudley's status as a commoner and his family's
past history, which was chequered, to say the least.
Politically, the most dangerous times for Elizabeth were in the first
thirteen years of her reign, when few expected her to last and when the
Catholics were at their strongest in England.
Plots and more plots
Under the powerful leadership of Thomas Howard, Fourth Duke of Norfolk,
plots were continually being hatched to marry her off to a Catholic king,
preferably King Philip II of Spain, or simply just to kill her.