The Golden Age of England
Queen Elizabeth was the queen of England. She was born at Greenwich Palace on
September 7, 1533 near London. Her father, Henry VIII had anulled his marriage with
Catherine of Aragon and had broken with Rome to marry Anne Boleyn. Their daughter
Elizabeth was to be the child of Reformation. She was a clever girl and was carefully
educated by Cambridge tutors and moderate Protestant inclinations. She was brilliant at
languages. Elizabeth became a good classical scholar and wrote and spoke French and
Italian fluently. She was well-educated and became the queen of England at the age of
25. After her father died, her half brother Edward VI was succeeded. Her brother died in 1553 and Elizabeth's half sister Mary became queen. Mary became known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of Protestants. Mary died in 1558 and Elizabeth became queen and ruled from 1558 to 1603. Elizabeth never married, although she did love Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and died at the age of 69 in the year 1603 after being queen for 45 years. Queen Elizabeth was the greatest female ruler in history.
Queen Elizabeth's reign is often called the Golden Age or the Elizabethan Age
because it was a time of great achievement in England. Elizabeth chose early to become more like her father and less like her mother. In other words, she chose to become ruler of the people and the church, not subject to the whims of the citizenry. Throughout her long reign she accomplished many
goals. She husbanded the economic and financial resources of her small country. She guided her country through the second phase of Reformation, and through the transition of being a small, second-power to a foremost position among European powers. She was a patron of the arts and in return was celebrated by poets, writers, musicians, scholars, and painters. By being a great patron she helped the Renaissance flourish in England.
The first church of England was a Protestant denomination and it was built under
Queen Elizabeth's reign. She brought in new types of architecture. The first theatre was
also built under her rule. Shakespeare wrote plays and she had them performed in her
theatre. It was also a time of great literary achievements. William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, and Edmund Spenser all wrote their great works during Elizabeth's lifetime. Indeed, Spenser's Faerie Queene is about Elizabeth herself. She encouraged exploration. Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world under her rule. It was from her resources that Sir Walter Raleigh was able to plant his colonies. By diplomacy, and at length by war, she strenuously resisted Spain's claim to monopoly of the New World. She secretly supported Drake's voyage and on his return from his voyage around the world acknowledged and rewarded his achievement. The English treasury grew rich and the country prospered. Queen Elizabeth also avoided war with the Roman Catholic nations and published an Elizabethan Prayer Book. Yet through all the great accomplishments, Elizabeth ruled with her fist closed and her mind made up: she would not marry. In effect, she was wedded to her country. The Virgin Queen had no consort but England. Elizabeth was very much alone but very much a tyrant.
A clue to her success was her determination to maintain national unity in an age of ideological strife. Elizabeth was a strong and clever rule and she succeeded in furthering England's interest. Queen Elizabeth worked hard to maintain peace and stability and always tried to please her subjects. She was inspired to create a prospering country by both her need to please the common
people and the need to prove to the other monarchs that she was wise, strong and powerful, even
though she was a woman. She was in touch with every side of the nation's activity. She was not only concerned with politics, diplomacy, and the religious struggle against the Counter-Reformation, but was also interested in voyages, finance, literature, and the arts. She was involved with most aspects of the life of the age. She became the most famous of all English sovereigns. Elizabeth's reign would have been perfect if not for one thing, the death of the King of France. The Queen Dowager of France, Mary, was also Queen of Scotland and she believed England was rightfully hers. When Mary returned to Scotland she began to pursue the crown of England. Elizabeth finally beheaded Mary in 1587. Mary was one of the few people Elizabeth sentenced to death. She felt so strongly about not executing people that it took her 20 years to finally sign Mary's death warrant. When Elizabeth died on March 23, 1603, she was mourned throughout England. She had created an era of peace in England that would come to be called the Elizabethan era. Her greatest accomplishments during her reign was defeating the Spanish Armada, firmly establishing England and a naval power and giving many years of peace and prosperity to England. She changed the way the world looked at Britain and how people looked at the world. With the possible exception of Catherine the Great of Russie, Elizabeth I may be regarded as the greatest female ruler in history.