Biography of Elizabeth


Elizabeth. Queen of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, was born 1533. Her education was entrusted to the most learned men of the age, and she became an accomplished scholar. During the reign of her sister Mary, she was imprisoned for a time in the Tower. On her accession in 1558, Mary's enactments in favor of Romanism were abrogated. By the Act of Supremacy, the sovereign again became head of the Church, and a form of worship was established which, it was hoped, would conciliate moderates of all parties. At first, the spirit of discontent dared not show itself amidst the general satisfaction. But after the escape of Mary Stuart into England in 1568, her presence in the country was a constant source of disquiet. She was the heir to the throne, and as Elizabeth persistently refused to marry, it seemed probable that she would be her successor. The disaffected Papists were further encouraged by the sentence of excommunication pronounced against Elizabeth by the Pope, and by the triumph of their cause abroad; Jesuits from Douay traversed the country in disguise, several plots were formed, and it became necessary to put the penal enactments against Recusants more stringently in force. The Protestantism of the country was acutely aroused, and a strong party in the council urged the queen to put herself forward as the champion of the Reformed faith on the Continent. But Elizabeth chose rather to encourage a feeling of independence and energy at home than to involve England in foreign complications. The prudence and patriotism of her policy were fully proved by the after history of her reign. The growing feeling of nationality proved stronger than the lingering attachment to the old faith, especially after the hopes of the Roman Catholics had been dashed by the execution of Mary in 1587, and when Philip of Spain sent his long-projected expedition against England in 1588, Roman Catholics as well as Protestants came zealously forward in defense of the realm. During the latter part of the reign, the disturbances created by the Puritans foreshadowed the troubles of the opening century. Elizabeth died in 1603.