Elizabeth I’s long reign

In 1558 Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, becomes queen. During her reign she established a reasonable degree of internal stability. By the mid-1580s, England could no longer avoid war with Spain. England's defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history.

Elizabeth's reign is known as the Elizabethan era. The period is famous for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Some historians depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck.

Queen Elizabeth I faced numerous plots against her and thus pays Sir Francis Walsingham to set up a European network of spies across Europe. He establishes England's first counter-intelligence network and a London school that teaches cipher breaking and forgery. Elizabeth's Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots is in exile in England and poses a threat to Elizabeth. Mary is put under house arrest. Walsingham is convinced she is plotting against the queen and implicates her in a plan to depose Elizabeth. Mary is executed a year later.

Elizabeth I dies aged 69. The Virgin Queen never married or had children.

James VI of Scotland was her closest royal relative as they were both direct descendants of Henry VII. He is named King James I on the day of Elizabeth's death. One of Britain's greatest and most influential dynasties finally reaches its conclusion.