Elizabeth I ruled England for 44 years, compared to Mary I’s five year rule, Lady jane Grey’s nine day rule and Edward VI’s six year rule, and she made a huge difference to the country.
As I said in my last post, England was in a depressing state when she inherited it from her half sister Mary I, yet when Elizabeth died England was a strong and prosperous country, a force to be reckoned with, and that is why her reign is known as “The Golden Age”.
Historians are divided in their opinion of this iconic queen. Some feel that she was a great monarch who used her shrewdness, intelligence and charisma to turn the country around, others feel that she was just lucky and still others have a more balanced view, pointing out the failures of her reign such as her military defeats. Whatever your overall opinion of Elizabeth, you have to give her credit for what she accomplished.
These are the main achievements of her reign:-
- Becoming queen! – She had been made illegitimate by her father Henry VIII, when her mother was executed for treason and her life had been in the balance during Mary I’s reign when she was linked to uprising such as the rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the Younger.
- Defeating the Spanish Aramada and her successful raids on the Spanish at Cadiz.
- Following on from her father’s work on the navy and turning England into a strong and dominant naval power.
- Defending England from Scotland and actually turning the Scots into a permanent ally.
- Increasing literacy in England.
- Expanding England overseas – Elizabeth I encouraged explorers like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins and others, to discover new places and form colonies.
- Founding the Church of England, as we know it today.
- Raising the status of England abroad.
- Surviving and defeating plots and uprisings against her – These included the Essex rebellion, uprisings in Ireland and the famous Babington plot.
- Helping the poor – Her Poor Laws gave support to those in poverty.
- Ruling England in her own right as Queen without a consort.
- The promotion of the Arts – Her love of arts led to theatres being built and great poets and playwrights like Shakespeare, Spenser and Marlow emerging.
As Elizabeth herself said in prayer:
“[At a time] when wars and seditions with grievous persecutions have vexed almost all kings and countries round about me, my reign hath been peacable, and my realm a receptacle to thy afflicted Church. The love of my people hath appeared firm, and the devices of my enemies frustrate.” (Source: Anne Somerset’s “Elizabeth I”)