Elizabeth I Shillings (1558 - 1603 AD) The Virgin Queen
Elizabeth was the last of the House of Tudor to sit on the English throne. When she succeeded Mary, her half-sister, the country faced the external threat of the growing power of Spain and the internal threat of religious turmoil, with Henry VIII’s protestant reforms still partly in place despite Mary’s attempts to undo them. Elizabeth was imprisoned by Mary for supporting the Protestant cause, and on her accession she set about establishing a formal state Protestant church of which the monarch was automatically the ruler.
Elizabeth avoided foreign alliances and refused to marry, a fat which in her later years contributed to the mystique surrounding her as the ‘virgin queen’. Her reign saw England rise to prominence as the owner of a substantial spread of colonies to rival those of Spain, as well as being the age of a resurgence in the arts under luminaries such as Shakespeare and Marlowe.
Militarily, England was not a great power under Elizabeth, but the momentous victory over the Spanish fleet (the Armada) in 1588 has forever linked her name with English resistance to foreign invasion. In her later years, the queen’s health began to fail and she finally died in her chambers in 1604. Within hours, the royal council proclaimed King James VI of Scotland as king.