Elizabeth I: England’s Golden Age

When Elizabeth I took the throne in 1559 AD, England entered what many consider to be her Golden Age.

England experienced a steep rise in international power and importance, a flowering of culture, and the Age of Discovery.

Elizabeth re-established the Church of England and extended English influence in Scotland by supporting the Protestants.

It was during the reign of Elizabeth I that William Shakespeare, the world’s greatest playwright and writer, lived.

(Above) William Shakespeare, the world’s greatest playwright and literary giant.

Shakespeare’s works remain to the present day the most widely read and studied literature in the world.

It was Queen Elizabeth that presided over a sharp increase in England’s ascendancy around the world, and of the start of an enormous colonisation campaign which would lead to the creation of the United States of America and the later British Empire.

During her reign, British voyagers were at the forefront of the Age of Discovery, setting off in all directions to explore the globe, discovering many new lands.

Elizabeth also supported the Protestants in the Netherlands, then under the yoke of imperial Spain.

This triggered war between England and Spain, however, with the Spaniards dispatching an enormous invasion fleet, known as the Spanish Armada.

The English navy, led by Admiral Sir Francis Drake, intercepted the Spanish Armada in the English Channel and after three days of fighting, the better trained English inflicted a decisive defeat on the Spaniards.

(Above) The English navy defeats the mighty Spanish Armada, laying the foundations for Britain’s future maritime supremacy.

This tremendous success laid the foundations for the growth of the most powerful navy the world has ever witnessed, the Royal Navy.

English expansion into overseas territories also opened up the slave trade.

In 1555 the first Black African slaves were imported into England, with the towns of Liverpool and Bristol becoming major slave trade centres.

The black slaves were mostly commandeered by purchasing them from the Africans themselves, and there existed during the same time-frame a far larger and more brutal Islamic slave trade dealing in Africans.

Britain would later almost single-handedly stamp out slavery throughout the world and was the first country to prohibit the sale of slaves in 1807.

(Above) Queen Elizabeth I presided over England’s Golden Age. Under her benevolent rule, England became a major world power. Incredibly intelligent and sharp of wit, she cemented England as a Protestant nation.

By 1601 there were 20,000 slaves in London.

The presence of these ever-increasing slaves was too much to stomach for Queen Elizabeth I, who ordered that every last one be expelled from England.

Queen Elizabeth I was fiercely patriotic.

Once, when asked by Parliament about any forthcoming marriage prospects, she replied:

‘I have already joined myself in marriage with a husband, namely the Kingdom of England.’

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