Queen Elizabeth 1

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Queen Elizabeth 1

During Elizabeth's reign, England went from a backwater to the most powerful country in the world. Arts and literature flourished, along with commerce. Many of the writers that worked in Elizabeth's time are still read today. The Renaissance had arrived in England. After a brief period when its effects were concentrated in religious circles, new and controversial Renaissance ideas exploded into everyday discussion and popular culture. (Starkly 12-23)

During the sixteenth century, England was ruled by the Tudor dynasty. This dynasty consisted of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I (Bloody Mary), and Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth I was one of the greatest monarchs of all time. The old saying "The sun never sets on the British Empire" would never have been spoken if Elizabeth had not become queen. Under her reign, England became a super-power. It should never have happened. Elizabeth should never even have become queen. Elizabeth was the second surviving daughter of King Henry the Eighth (yes, that King Henry VIII). Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth's mother was later beheaded. (Moritz 35-59)

King Henry VIII broke with the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England with himself as its head. This was a huge blow to the Roman Catholic Church, and one which it was not going to take lying down. Henry persecuted stubborn Catholics and expropriated Church property and the property of many monasteries. There were many reasons for this, but the final straw was the Pope's refusal to let Henry out of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry wanted to get rid of Catherine (who had failed to give him a male heir) in favour of Anne Boleyn--who was younger and prettier, and who he thought would give him the son he needed to continue the Tudor Dynasty. When the Pope refused to grant Henry's divorce, Henry established the Church of England and got out of his marriage on his own terms.

Catherine was treated very shabbily and her home nation of Spain insulted. This would later come back to haunt England. Many of King Henry VIII's policies would result in problems for England down the road. However, Henry went ahead with his marriage to Anne Boleyn and his establishment of the Church of England. This was the beginning of a long series of wars between England and Spain. Many of the battles of the Protestant Reformation and the Counter Reformation which followed were fought between English and Spanish warships and troops. The result of Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn was the future Queen Elizabeth. However, Anne Boleyn was unable to deliver the son and heir Henry needed. He soon moved on to "greener" pastures. Anne Boleyn was executed and a new wife, Jane Seymour, installed as queen. Jane gave birth to a son--the future Edward VI--and Elizabeth faded into the background. (Starkly 12-23)

Henry had six wives in all. The last, Catherine Parr, was kind to Elizabeth and gave her the education ...
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