Elizabeth I of England, 1533 - 1603

portrait of Elizabeth I
The "Darnley" portrait (ca. 1575)
Elizabeth I signature

Born: 7 September 1533, Greenwich, England
Died: 24 March 1603, Richmond, England

After 24 years of marriage, Catherine or Aragon had only one living issue, and that a daughter, so Henry VIII had the marriage annulled, declared his daughter Mary illegitimate, and married Anne Boleyn, who promptly (less than four months) delivered another daughter, Elizabeth. Less patient the second time, in less than three years trumped-up charges of treason were brought against Anne, she was beheaded, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Elizabeth grew up largely in the household of her younger step-brother Prince Edward and was well educated by her governess, on Henry's death she moved into the household of Catherine Parr, Henry's last wife, and was given additional education there. The prince became Edward VI but died after six months, and Mary became queen. In the struggle between Catholics and Protestants, Elizabeth became a favorite of the Protestants and was seen as a real threat to Queen Mary, a conservative Catholic. She spent some time in the Tower of London under charges of treason and an extended period of house arrest, but Mary refused to sign the execution order.

Elizabeth became Queen on 17 November 1558 and was crowned on 14 January 1559. She played diplomatic games with many suitors but never married. Military campaigns under her were not well supported and consistent failures, she consistently felt that she lost control of her forces as soon as they left England. Her navy made great strides, notably Francis Drake's circumnavigation or the globe and consistent harrying of Spanish ships, most notably the destruction of the Spanish Armada. She formally established the Church of England. After the defeat of the Armada, the war with Spain took a heavy toll on the economy and her popularity suffered. Within the next three years almost all of her senior advisors died, and the last decade of her life was melancholy. In late 1602 several deaths among her friends left her in a deep depression, she died in her bed at Richmond Palace at age seventy. The Virgin Queen is probably best remembered for the literature of her reign, including Edmund Spenser, Chrisoper Marlowe, and William Shakespeare, the seagoing exploits of Drake, and the foreign adventures of Walter Raleigh.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Crown

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