Queen Elizabeth I1 Essay

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Queen Elizabeth I1




Queen Elizabeth & Her Explorers
(1558-1603)

Princess Elizabeth, a slender, athletic, extremely

intelligent young woman, recieved an ideal Rennaissance

education in Latin, Greek and modern languages, in history

and Scripture. As Henry VIII’s second eldest child, shunted

back to third in line for the throne by the complex politics

of the period, she also had a very practical education in

political intrigue - and the fine art of political survival.

She came in 1558 to the royal throne shaken by a decade of

misgovernment, religious fanaticism, and economic problems.

She proceeded to give England 45 years of strong government,

moderate religious policies, and unexplained prosperity.

Elizabeth was a prudent ruler. She avoided costly

wars, however, supported the war with Ireland. “The

creation of this English colony (Ireland) led to the

expansion of markets for English goods and the growth in

imports of desirable commodities.” Elizabeth sought for

religious compromise rather than religious crusades, worked

through her appointed ministers, and dealt firmly with an

increasingly vocal Parliament. She was well served by

lifelong royal counselors such as Lord Treasurer Burghley

and veteran warriors such as Francis Drake. She was less

well supported by dashing younger cavaliers such as the

Earl of Essex.

“Queen Elizabeth supported colonization ventures only

if they did not detract from what she believed was the

primary purpose of her government: to defend the nation and

its territory and to consolidate royal authority within the

realm. She was much more concerned with with preventing

invasions of Scotland and Ireland and protecting the

English Channel against the Armada, the Spanish Fleet that

threatened English ships on the high seas.

But her government’s hesitance ebbed after the English

gained access to the seas with their seemingly miraculous

victory over the Spanish in 1588. From that point on, the

conditions were ripe for colonizing North America.” She

supported Martin Frobisher’s expeditions. England was

still too weak to challenge Spain openly, but Elizabeth

hoped to break the Spanish overseas monopoly just the same.

She encouraged her boldest sea dogs to plunder Spanish

merchant ships on the high seas. When Captain Francis Drake

was about to set sail on his famous round-the-world voyage

in 1577, she said to him: “Drake! ... I would gladly be

revenged on the King of Spain for divers injuries that I

have recieved.” Drake took her at her word. He sailed

through the Strait of Magellan and terrorized the west

coast of South America, capturing the Spanish treasure

ship, Cacafuego, heavily ladden with Peruvian silver. After

exploring the coast of California, which he claimed for

England, Drake crossed the Pacific and went on to

circumnavigate the globe, returning home in triumph in 1580.

Although Elizabeth took pains to deny it to the Spanish

ambassador, Drake’s voyage was officially sponsored.

When schemes to place settlers in the New World began

to mature at about this time, the queen again became

involved. The first effort was led by Sir Humphrey Gilbert,

an Oxford educated soldier and courtier with a with a

lifelong interest in far-off places. Gilbert owned a share

of the Muscovy Company; as early as 1566, he was trying to

get a royal grant for an expedition in search of the

northeast passage to the Orient. But soon his interests

concentrated on the northwest route. He read widely in

navigational and geographical lore and in 1576 wrote a

persuasive, Discourse ... to prove a passage by the north

west to Cathaia. Two years later, Queen Elizabeth

authorized him to explore and colonize “heathen lands not

actually possessed by any Christian prince.” Nothing was

recorded about his first attempt in 1578-1579; in 1583 he

set sail again with five ships and over 200 settlers. He

landed them on Newfoundland, then evidentally decided to

seek a more congenial site farther south. However, no

colony was established, and on his way back to England his

ship went down in a storm off the Azores.

Gilbert’s half brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, took up his

work. Raleigh was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. He sent a
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