Queen Elizabeth I Hagiography
Elizabeth I was born in London in 1533. Although the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's future as queen was a shaky one. The times demanded a son as heir to the throne, and Henry was looking for a wife who could give him one. Elizabeth was his second daughter. His first child, Mary, was born to Catherine of Aragon, whom he divorced to wed Boleyn. When he had Boleyn executed in 1536, Henry married Jane Seymour, who gave him his only son to survive infancy - Edward. After Henry's death, Elizabeth took no part in the political intrigues following the coronation of her half-brother as King Edward VI. At Edward’s death, life became much harder when Elizabeth's older sister, Mary, ascended the throne. The battle between the Catholics and Protestants still raged in England, and staunch Catholic Mary was deeply suspicious of her Protestant sister. Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but was eventually kept under what amounted to house arrest. When Mary died in 1558, Elizabeth succeeded to the throne. As Queen Elizabeth I, she faced no small problems in her kingdom. England was impoverished, rife with religious battles, and a tempting target for neighboring nations, and Elizabeth had no husband. In 1558, this was considered a serious disability. Although her advisers and Parliament clamored for her to marry, she remained single throughout her life. Under Elizabeth's rule, England gained prosperity, for Queen Elizabeth financed exploration and commerce. She took a harder line on Catholics than she probably wanted to, because Parliament forced her hand in the matter, but England became a solidly Protestant country and the religious strife was calmed. She was a great patroness of the arts, and painting, drama, and literature flourished under her. She brought England into the Renaissance, and before she died, the English court had become a center of culture. Queen Elizabeth fended off repeated attacks from old enemies France and Spain. The Armada victory against Spain in 1588 ended their ambitions against England for many years. Her later reign was spent shoring up the country politically and defending her throne from inside enemies. One of the most notable of these was Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary had her throne in Scotland but wanted Elizabeth's as well. Mary's possible involvement in the Babington plot against Queen Elizabeth in 1586 made Elizabeth realize her throne was not safe as long as Mary lived. She had Mary executed in 1587. Since Queen Elizabeth had no children, succession was an issue. She settled on James, King of Scotland and Mary's son. He was a Protestant and the nearest living male relative. When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, she left behind a country that was much greater than when she was crowned queen. Her death marked the end of the House of Tudor and ushered in the House of Stuart.