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British Monarchs: Elizabeth I (Tudors) 1558-1603


Elizabeth I


House: Tudors
Reign: 1558-1603

Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 24 March 1603) was Queen of England, Queen of France (in name only), and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. She is sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen, as she never married, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, and was immortalized by Edmund Spenser as the Faerie Queene. Elizabeth I was the fifth and final monarch of the Tudor dynasty (Henry VII, Henry VIII,
her half-brother Edward VI, and her half-sister Mary I). She reigned for 45 years, during a period marked by increases in English power and influence worldwide and great religious turmoil within England.

Elizabeth's reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era or the Golden Age of Elizabeth. Playwrights William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson all flourished during this era; Francis Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe; Francis Bacon laid out his philosophical and political views; and English colonisation of North America took place under Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Elizabeth was a short-tempered and sometimes indecisive ruler. A favourite motto for her was video et taceo ("I see and keep silent") [1]. This last quality, viewed with impatience by her counsellors, often saved her from political and marital misalliances. Like her father Henry VIII, she was a writer and poet. She granted Royal Charters to several famous organisations, including Trinity College, Dublin (its official name is the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Elizabeth near Dublin) in 1592 and the British East India Company (1600).

Her reign was marked by prudence in the granting of honours and dignities. In nearly forty-five years, only nine peerage dignities, one earldom and seven baronies in the Peerage of England, and one barony in the Peerage of Ireland, were created. She also reduced the number of Privy Counsellors from thirty-nine to nineteen, and later to fourteen.

Virginia, an English colony in North America and afterwards one of America's original 13 states, was named after Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen".


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