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British kings and queens

Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I at the age of about 42Queen Elizabeth I at the age of about 42Elizabeth I (1558–1603) was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She succeeded to the throne on the death of her half-sister Mary and proved to be a strong, shrewd and very popular monarch. During Elizabeth’s reign, trade expanded overseas and England became rich. The Elizabethan era (as this period is called) was a Golden Age in art, theatre and music. England also became a Protestant nation again. After Elizabeth sent help to Dutch rebels fighting for independence from Catholic Spain, and executed her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, for treason, Philip II of Spain send a huge Armada (fleet) to invade England in 1588. It was successfully repelled in a great victory for the English navy. Despite having a number of suitors, Elizabeth decided never to marry. When she died in 1603 without any children, the English throne passed to James VI of Scotland.

A portrait of Elizabeth at the age of 13A portrait of Elizabeth at the age of 13

Early life

Elizabeth was born at Greenwich on 7th September 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Princess Elizabeth had a difficult early life. Her mother had been executed when she was only three, and her half-sister, Mary, had imprisoned her during her reign. Roman Catholics always considered Elizabeth to be illegitimate and she only narrowly escaped being executed following a failed rebellion by Protestant sympathizers against Mary in 1554. Elizabeth, however, survived to succeed to the throne of England on her half-sister's death in November 1558.

In 1570 the Pope declared Elizabeth I illegitimate—thus releasing her subjects from obedience to her. After that, there were several conspiracies on her life. All were foiled by Elizabeth's secret service.

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