Position Of Crown In England

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Position of Crown in England

Position of Crown in England

Queen of England

Elizabeth I was ruler of England from 1558 to 1603. During her reign, she demonstrated considerable leadership skills, surviving in an environment that was often extremely hostile and threatening. Popular culture flourished during the reign of Elizabeth; her court was a focal point for writers, musicians, and scholars such as William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and explorers such as Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596) and Walter Raleigh (c. 1554-1618). Elizabeth encouraged a spirit of free inquiry that in turn facilitated the scientific revolution and the age of enlightenment. During her reign, the English economy expanded massively. The queen herself came to be known as Gloriana, a name that reflected the triumphs of the age she oversaw.

The England Elizabeth had inherited was blighted by bankruptcy, roaring inflation, disastrous wars, and religious conflict. Poverty, disease, and deprivation were rife. From childhood, Elizabeth's life was fraught with danger. When she was only two years old, her father (Henry VIII, 1491-1547; reigned 1509-1547) executed her mother Anne Boleyn (his second wife), and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. After her father died, her brother Edward (1537-1553; reigned 1547-1553), the son of Henry's third wife, inherited the throne but lived only for a short time. In 1553, Elizabeth's Catholic half-sister Mary (1516-1558; reigned 1553-1558), Henry's daughter by his first wife, became queen. In March 1554, Elizabeth was incarcerated in the Tower of London, accused of plotting against Mary and of refusing to embrace the Catholic faith. She was released in May but remained under suspicion and was carefully watched until Mary died childless in 1558.

In the context of these threats, deprivations, and indignities, it is remarkable indeed that Elizabeth ever became Queen of England, let alone that she then reigned for forty-five years. Elizabeth had been forced to learn the arts and skills of survival at a very early age, and this knowledge stayed with her throughout her life, significantly influencing her approach to leadership. The life of Elizabeth tells us a great deal about leadership and about the effective exercise of power and authority.

Elizabeth And Government

Elizabeth recognized that, unlike her father, she could not adopt an autocratic approach to leadership based on absolute power. She would have to lead in a rather more sophisticated way. Her powers of oratory (which age did not diminish) became legendary and enabled her to obtain the support of the Privy Council, the bishops, Parliament, and the people. Elizabeth's speech to a deputation from Parliament about her repeal of monopolies in 1601 became known as her “Golden Speech.” In 1601, Parliament debated the outlawing of monopolies. This constituted a significant challenge to the Queen's royal prerogative to grant monopolies. However, aware of the strength of feeling within Parliament on this matter, Elizabeth decided to preempt any unwelcome legislation by sending a message to Parliament that she herself would reform affairs. Her superb timing defused the agitation: “The House was overjoyed … not by its own victory, but at their ...
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