Elizabeth I: Improving England's International Standing: The Defeat of the Spanish Armada
Elizabeth Tudor was born in 1533 to King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her life began in the midst of controversy and continued to be troubled until her death in 1603. Elizabeth, in reality, never should have been the ruler of Great Britain at all since she had several siblings in line for the throne ahead of her. After she was crowned queen at the age of 25, she successfully reigned for 45 years. Elizabeth increased English power and influence worldwide, handled sensitive issues like religion with grace and diplomacy, and gained and retained the respect of her subjects and other political figures. The fact that she accomplished all of this as a female in a male dominated society is nothing short of miraculous. The defeat of the "Invincible Spanish Armada" in 1588 cemented Queen Elizabeth's place in history as one of the most important and greatest rulers in England's history.
When Elizabeth was 3, she was declared illegitimate and lost the title of Princess after her father arrested and executed her mother for charges of treason, incest, and witchcraft. King Henry quickly remarried and his third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to a son, Prince Edward, who became the official heir to the throne. During Elizabeth's young life, she learned six languages, including Latin, Greek, French, and Italian. She was often thought of as very intelligent and serious as a child. Her tutor, Ascham, remarked that Elizabeth's intellect and memory distinguished her above others, men and women alike. She also inherited characteristics from both her mother and her father. King Henry was known to be unwavering and firm, while Anne Boleyn was considered to be extremely clever and resourceful. Elizabeth's intelligence and the characteristics from both of her parents made her a brilliant political figure.
After the death of Elizabeth's father, Prince Edward became the first ruler of England at the young age of 10. He died as a teenager from tuberculosis, and then the real struggle for the crown began. The first to be declared queen was Lady Jane Grey who was a descendant of Henry VIII's sister, Mary. Elizabeth took to her bed during this time and claimed to be ill because she had been asked to renounce her own claim to the thrown publicly and did not want to make a commitment one way or the other. Jane was queen for nine days. Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was actually the rightful heir to the throne. She became queen after marching into London and imprisoning Jane Grey. Mary had the popular support and Elizabeth at her side. Elizabeth was brilliant for showing her loyalty to the new queen since it placed her in a position of honor and negated rumors of her allegiance to the Protestant religion. Mary I married Prince Philip of Spain, seeking to strengthen Catholic influence in England but this union made Mary very unpopular. The Protestants were mercilessly persecuted by the queen, who came to be known as "Bloody Mary" due to the thousands of executions she ordered. Mary felt that the Protestants were heretics and a serious threat to her authority. She begged Elizabeth, a Protestant, to convert to the Roman Catholicism, but the Princess quietly remained faithful to her conscience and to her religion. Elizabeth was imprisoned for two months in the Tower of London, and many tried to have her removed from the order of succession, but she was allowed to return to the court after Mary was mistakenly rumored to be pregnant and Elizabeth no longer appeared to be a threat. Philip fought to keep Elizabeth's right to claim the throne if Mary died since the next-closet relative was Mary, Queen of Scots. He did not want her to become Queen because she was heavily influenced by the French in her politics and they were enemies of Spain. Mary died in November of 1558, due to a large ovarian cyst which...
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