ELIZABETH I

Elizabeth I

b. 7 Sep 1533, Greenwich, near London
d. 24 Mar 1603, London

Title: Dei gratia Anglie Francie et Hibernie Regina, Fidei Defensor, etc. = By the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc. [1]
Term: 17 Nov 1558 - 24 Mar 1603
Chronology: 17 Nov 1558, succeeded her half-sister, Mary I
  15 Jan 1559, crowned, Westminster Abbey
  24 Mar 1603, died
Biography:

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who was accused of adultery and executed on 19 May 1536. Elizabeth was exiled from the court and lived into relative obscurity. However, she was not neglected by her father and even was declared third in line to the throne. During the reign of her half-sister, Mary I, she narrowly escaped execution and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for two months in 1554. Elizabeth succeeded childless Mary, who died on 17 Nov 1558.

After the five years of Mary's Catholic reign, Elizabeth established Protestantism as the official religion of England. She enacted the Act of Supremacy (1559), which revived the antipapal statutes of Henry VIII and declared the queen supreme head of the church, and the Act of the Thirty-nine Articles (1563), which formally separated the Anglican church from the Roman Catholic church. A Catholic rebellion in northern England in 1569 was suppressed. In 1571 the queen's authorities uncovered an international conspiracy against her life ("Ridolfi Plot") indirectly involving her Catholic cousin Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, a descendant of Henry VII and the nearest heir to the English throne. The persecution of Catholics increased after discovering a plot involving a page to Mary Stuart, who was imprisoned in England since 1568. Elizabeth reluctantly agreed to the death sentence passed by an English court and Mary was executed on 8 Feb 1587. As a leading Catholic power, Spain responded with sending an enormous fleet ("Invincible Armada") to the shores of England to restore Catholic leadership, but it was defeated by the English fleet and later destroyed by terrible storms (July 1588). An Irish revolt in 1595, assisted by Spain, was eventually put down in 1601. The former favorite, Earl of Essex, attempted to overthrow Elizabeth, but he was tried and for treason and executed on 25 Feb 1601. During the 1590s Elizabeth enacted various "poor laws", culminating in the Poor Law Act of 1601, which made local government responsible for its own impoverished citizens. By the end of Elizabeth's reign, called the Elizabethan era, England emerged as a world economic and military power.


[1] Elizabeth was proclaimed queen with this style incorporating "etc." as part of the formal style with a possible view of restoring the supremacy phrase ("and in earth of the Church of England and (also) of Ireland the Supreme Head"). See additional note and "Selected Historical Essays of F.W. Maitland", edited by Helem M. Cam, Cambridge 1957.
[2] Handbook of British Chronology (1986)
  Image: portrait of Queen Elizabeth I attributed to George Gower, c. 1588.
Last updated on: 14 Mar 2010 03:56:46