Queen Elizabeth I ascends to the throne. Born the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, she was only 3 yrs old when her mother was beheaded under orders from her father. While her half-sister Mary was Queen, Mary considered Elizabeth a threat to the throne and had her locked in the Tower of London. She was released after a few months when Mary believed herself to be pregnant and her family line to the throne secured. However, Mary was not pregnant and died, moving 25-yr old Elizabeth to the throne after all.
She was referred to as The Virgin Queen because she never married, and her 44 year reign became known as The Elizabethan Era when Shakespearian English drama flourished. One of her best known military victories was the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which was launched by the Spanish government as an attempt to overthrow her. The victory was a boost to England’s national pride.
She was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. By the time she died, she could speak and write nine or ten different languages and was considered one of the best educated women of her generation.
It was assumed she would marry and quickly produce an heir to the throne, but in spite of the many proposals and suitors, she never did either. In 1563 she said it was better to be a “beggar-woman and single…..than queen and married.” Senior government officials worried about the succession problem with no heir and felt she was being irresponsible by not taking care of the future of the throne. They urged her to at least name a successor if she would not produce one. This she also refused to do as she felt that once an heir to the throne was named, then she was in danger of being the victim of a coup.
Her stance inspired “a cult of virginity”. In 1559, she told the House of Commons, “And, in the end, this shall be for me sufficient, that a marble stone shall declare that a queen, having reigned such a time, lived and died a virgin". She proclaimed she was “married to her kingdom.”