The monarch of Ireland and England since 1553, Queen Mary I passed away thus opening the door to her successor Elizabeth who is her half-sister and happens to be twenty-five-years-old. During Mary’s five-year reign, the two half-sisters had a volatile relationship and were the daughters of King Henry VIII. Brought up and raised to be a Catholic, Mary supported pro-Catholic laws while making efforts in England to have the pope regain his supremacy.
However, not everyone was happy about this decision in which gave birth to a Protestant rebellion. Whether or not her suspicions were justified, Queen Mary ordered Elizabeth to be confined to the Tower of London because she was a Protestant and felt she conspired with those who rebelled against her Catholic policies.
Elizabeth was set free after Queen Mary’s death and though her ascension was accepted with hopeful optimism by the majority of England’s lords (they were mostly Protestant and believed her policies would favor religious tolerance being a Protestant herself), not everyone supported her as she escaped several attempts made against her by Catholics. The Protestant Queen listened to the early suggestions made by Sir William Cecil, Secretary of State, by giving support to Calvinist reformers, undoing her half-sister’s laws regarding a Catholic agenda and creating a permanent Church of England that was Protestant.
The Queen focused on foreign affairs by separating her enemies while following an agenda that made England’s Protestant allies stronger. Yet, she faced opposition from Spain that was at the peak of their power while considered a Catholic nation and the pope who would never give her due recognition. The result of this Spanish-English rivalry led to the 1588 Spanish attack on England where the Spanish Armada was ravished by storms as well as being defeated by a well-focused English navy despite having the reputation at this time of having the strongest navy on the planet.
The Queen called for voyages and explorations of discovery, in part to England’s dominance at sea, such as Sir Walter Raleigh’s North American coast expeditions and the circumnavigation of the planet by Sir Francis Drake. During Elizabeth’s lengthy rule, she earned the label of being the “Virgin Queen” as she was hesitant to marry anyone because it would possibly put her authority at risk. Her reign had also been intertwined with the flourishing of what would become to be known as the English Renaissance in which famous authors, such as William Shakespeare, were associated with. Despite her differences she may have had with Catholic lords, there could be no arguing the fact that when she died in 1603, Queen Elizabeth I would be noted in world history as leaving behind an England that in every aspect was a major world power as well as being remembered as one of the greatest monarchs in the history of England.