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 elder sister
Mary and, under her, England managed to avoid a crippling Spanish
Born on 7 September 1533, upon Mary's death she claimed
the titles of 'Queen of England', 'Queen of France' (which by now existed
in name only as far as English claims were concerned), 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 increased worldwide. She granted a Royal Charter to the British
East India Company in 1600, thereby allowing that company to begin
accumulating its vast business, and later territorial, concerns in the
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 services.
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. Amy 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
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. In 1569 Elizabeth faced a major uprising,
known as the Northern Rebellion, which was instigated by the duke of
Norfolk, along with Charles Neville, sixth earl of Westmorland and
Thomas Percy, seventh earl of Northumberland.