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Queen Elizabeth I


Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. At the time of The Falconer's Quarry, she would have been 11 years old, and since she didn't become queen until she was 25, her reign begins quite a while after the book ends. However, she was such an important part of the Tudor dynasty, I had to include her.

Her path to the throne wasn't entirely straight-forward. When her father died, first her younger half-brother Edward, and then her older half-sister Mary ruled England. But when Mary died childless, it was Elizabeth's chance to become queen. Having got the crown, she held on to it, despite several plots to overthrow her, for 45 years.

Elizabeth picked up the reform of the church where her father and brother had left off, establishing the English Protestant Church. Unlike them, or her fanatical sister Mary, however, she was quite tolerant. Fewer than 30 people were executed for religious reasons during Elizabeth's 45 year reign, whilst during Mary's 5 years as queen before her, almost 300 people were burnt at the stake for being Protestants.

Elizabeth I with the Armada photo-bombing, or portrait-bombing I suppose, in the background.

During Elizabeth's reign, art flourished, with Shakespeare dashing off about 20 plays between 1590 and 1600. It was a time of relative peace and stability. However, there was one major military event during Elizabeth's reign for which she is remembered: the Spanish Armada. The Armada was a fleet of ships sent by King Philip II of Spain to attack and invade England. They were defeated when Sir Francis Drake set fire to some English ships and sent them out over the water among the ships of the Armada, which scattered in terror of catching fire.

Elizabeth never married, though she had many offers, and had no children. When she died, the throne passed to James VI of Scotland, the son of Elizabeth's cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. Elizabeth's death, at what was for the time a grand old age of 70, marked the end of the Tudor dynasty and the beginning of the Stewarts.

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