Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth was the unwanted daughter of King Henry VIII, the king who killed her
mother, because she did not bear a son. Elizabeth grew up in a country at war with it self
in the wake of King Henry’s religious reforms. Through no fault of her own, Elizabeth
was cast aside by her own father; resulting in a lonely childhood and adolescence. While
her half sister Mary I was queen, as a young women Elizabeth lived quietly, waiting for
her opportunity to succeed. On November. 17, 1558, Mary died and Elizabeth began her
reign. During her years as a queen, Elizabeth influenced England greatly, with
which to this day the Elizabethan age is most often associated.

Education was one of Elizabeth’s greatest influences on England. Perhaps her
influence on the importance of education as a young girl and her longed desire to learn
helped her strive for this particular goal. Children in those days began their studies really
early in the morning. They were expected to work long hours with out getting distracted.
Over the years her tutors wrote glowing reports on her excellent progress. At ten years
old, Elizabeth was excellent at Latin, and she could speak Italian pretty well. She was
also taught ancient and modern languages, religion, history, geography, mathematics,
science, and music. She kept up her studies even when she became queen.(Zamoyska
10-11) Queen Elizabeth introduced to her country the seeds of freedom, which English
men now took for granted. The growing number of printing presses made books more
readily available, because an increasing amount of people, both men and women began
to read. (Bush 93)

As a Protestant, Elizabeth influenced her country’s religious decisions.
According to Zamoyska: While Mary was still queen of England, Elizabeth did not want
to risk her greatest opportunity of being next in line. She had a difficult task of having to
conform openly to the Catholics, while still keeping support for the Protestants and the
younger generation that “looked up to her.” (19)

“Elizabeth’s first decisions bore on the religious issues. She turned the situation
back to the state of things during the last years of Edward VI, allowing the repatriation of
the Protestant leaders who had been driven out underMary.She didn’t, however
encourage further changes, and essentially supported the Church of England ...”
(Rachum 162)

Moderate Protestantism had been practiced under Henry VIII , and under Edward VI
even more radical Protestant programs were implemented.. Mary in the other hand, had
restored the Roman Catholic faith. Elizabeth herself was a moderate Protestant, and her
settlement excluded papal authority, and brought back the Book of Common Prayer. This
however did not recognize the demands of the extreme Puritans. During her reign a lot of
pressure continued, but she resisted. Eventually the Puritans were driven underground.
One of her greatest fears was that an alliance of Catholic powers might force her out of
the throne, and introduce again a Catholic monarch. Eventually Elizabeth send English
forces to fight on the Protestant side: In the war of religion in France and the revolt of the
Dutch against Spanish rule. (Academic American Encyclopedia 141)

The Spanish Armada was perhaps the greatest threat to Elizabeth. Intending this fleet
to secure the deposition of Elizabeth in favor of himself, Philip II of Spain-Thus restoring
Catholicism. The Naval battle in the English Channel devasted the Spanish flotilla.

The use of the fire ships, English seaman ship and the “Protestant Wind” as the
English call it, were responsible for the English victory that turned out to be so famous.
(Academic American Encyclopedia 142) Before the war, Queen Elizabeth made a
dramatic speech to her troops at Tulbury. She assured them that she had “...the heart and
stomach of a king” and she promised that “...we shall shortly have a famous victory over
these enemies of my God, my kingdom, and my people.” She wore a gleaming silver
armor and a white velvet dress. She was not about to barricade herself into one of her
castles in this time of danger, but she was intending to show her country what a queen
could be. The war was declared an English victory. Thus the defeat of the Armada
strengthened Elizabeth’s position as a figure of Protestantism. She was the one who in
spite of everything, seemed “invincible.” (Bush 87-90)
Queen Elizabeth was the most important patron of Elizabethan theater.
“Her influence was essential protecting the theatrical
profession from puritan inspired prohibitions, and her court provided an
important source of income and prestige for leading London acting
companies...” (Boyce 172)