Elizabeth I was born in Greenwhich on September 7, 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her early life was full of uncertainties, and her chances of succeeding to the throne seemed very slim when her half-brother Edward was born. She was then the third in line behind her half-sister, Princess Mary. Elizabeth succeeded to the throne at the age of twenty-five after her sister’s death to cancer.
The image of Elizabeth’s reign is one of triumph and sucess. SHe saw many brave voyages of discovery, including tthose of Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, particuly to the Americas. THe arts flourished, theaters thrived and miniature painting reached its high point. Important legislation enacted in her reign included stabilization of labor conditions, currency reforms, poor laws, and acts to encourage agriculture, commercce, and manufacturing.
However, Elizabeth’s reign was one of considerable danger and difficulty for many, with threats of invasion from Spain through Ireland, and from France through Scotland. Much of Northern England was in rebellion. During her reign the nation also suffered from high prices and severe economic depression. Although Elizabeth freely used her power to vetolegislation, she avoided confrontation and did not attempt to define Parliamen’ts constitutional position and rights.
Elizabeth chose never to marry. If she had chosen a foreign prince, he would have drrawn England into foreign policies for his own advantage; marrying a fellow counntryman could have drawn the Queen into fractionalinfighting. Elizabeth used her marriage prospects as a political tool in foreign and domestic policies. However, they displayed the “Virgin Queen” as a selfless woman who sacrifieced personal happiness for the good of the nation, to which she was, in essence, “married.”
Elizabeth was a puzzling figure. Although vain and deceitful, she managed to gain and hold the love of her subjectss to the end of her long life. Elizabeth ignited a great era that led England to rule for four hundred years in world power. She died at Richmond Palace on March24, 1603, having become a legend of her lifetime. The date of her accession remianed a national holiday for two hundred years.