Queen Elizabeth I

1553 - 1603

Queen Elizabeth the 1st (of England and Ireland) reigned for 44 years, from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called the 'Virgin Queen', she was the 5th and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. The daughter of Henry VIII was born a princess, but declared illegitimate when her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed two and a half years later.

Her half-brother, Edward VI, bequeathed the crown to Lady Jane Grey, denying his half-sisters succession. His will was set aside, Lady Jane Grey was executed, and in 1558 Elizabeth succeeded the Catholic Mary I, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

Her reign is famous for solidifying the religion her father 'popularized', defeating the Spanish Armada and above all for the flourishing of English drama during a relative time of peace.

It has been noted by many scholars that the Shakespearean history plays are an effective set of propaganda pieces that legitimize and glorify the Tudor dynasty, commissioned by Secretary of State William Cecil, principal minister to the Queen.

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