Describe the problems facing Elizabeth I in 1558.
Evaluate the significance of these problems and how they might influence her reign.
Queen Elizabeth I ruled England from 1558-1603, and is considered to be one of the greatest British monarchs of all time. However, her ascension to the throne was met with many problems such as gender, succession, burdening finances, international affairs and most importantly, religion. These problems had great influence on her long reign as it was the way the queen–in-parliament dealt with these issues that influenced the 45 years that were to come.
Although she was welcomed wholeheartedly by the citizens of England on the eve of her coronation, her ability as queen was questioned as she was “but a woman.” The failure of her sister, Queen Mary’s reign had been widely attributed to her gender and the possibility of another woman ruling England worried much of the governing class. Leaders from neighbouring countries were insulted to be serving a woman and England expected Elizabeth to marry the moment of her ascension. Her ex-brother-in-law, King Phillip II of Spain wrote in his proposal to her in 1559, “she should marry that her husband might relieve her of those labels which are only fit for men.”  The reasons Elizabeth never married have been widely disputed but it is perhaps due to the difficulty of finding a match without provoking political instability of causing religious conflict or that it would result in a considerable loss in power as seen in her sister, when she married King Phillip II of Spain. Nevertheless, the more important issue of producing an heir remained a problem for the next 20 years until she was named ‘Virgin Queen.’ The Tudor dynasty would end making Queen, Mary of Scots the likely monarch to succeed to the throne, a Catholic, or in the case of her death; her son James, a Protestant. Queen Elizabeth’s decision not to marry greatly influenced her reign as she was married to her country, and...
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