Two months after the death of her half-sister, Queen Mary I of England, Elizabeth Tudor, the 25-year-old daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, is crowned Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey in London. The two half-sisters, both daughters of Henry VIII, had a stormy relationship during Mary’s five-year reign. Mary, who was brought up as a Catholic, enacted pro-Catholic legislation and made efforts to restore papal supremacy in England. A Protestant rebellion ensued, and Queen Mary imprisoned Elizabeth, a Protestant, in the Tower of London on suspicion of complicity. After Mary’s death, Elizabeth survived several Catholic plots against her; although her ascension was greeted with approval by most of England’s lords, who were largely Protestant and hoped for greater religious tolerance under a Protestant queen. Under the early guidance of Secretary of State Sir William Cecil, Elizabeth repealed Mary’s pro-Catholic legislation, established a permanent Protestant Church of England, and encouraged the Calvinist reformers in Scotland. In foreign affairs, Elizabeth practiced a policy of strengthening England’s Protestant allies and dividing her foes. Elizabeth was opposed by the pope, who refused to recognize her legitimacy, and by Spain, a Catholic nation that was at the height of its power.
In 1588, English-Spanish rivalry led to an abortive Spanish invasion of England in which the Spanish Armada, the greatest naval force in the world at the time, was destroyed by storms and a persistent English navy. With increasing English domination at sea, Elizabeth encouraged voyages of discovery, such as Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world and Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions to the North American coast. The long reign of Elizabeth, who became known as the “Virgin Queen” for her reluctance to endanger her authority through marriage, coincided with the flowering of the English Renaissance, associated with such renowned authors as William Shakespeare. By her death in 1603, England had become a major world power in every respect, and Queen Elizabeth I passed into history as one of England’s greatest monarchs.
Also on this Day
Muammar al-Gaddafi, the young Libyan army captain who deposed King Idris in September 1969, is proclaimed premier of Libya by the so called General People’s Congress. Gaddafi, the son of a Bedouin farmer, attended university and then rose through the ranks of the Libyan Army. His ardent nationalism led him and a fellow group of conspirators to overthrow the monarchy in September 1969. Blendin... Read more >
Martin Luther King, Jr., the son of a Baptist minister, is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He studied theology and in 1955 organized the first major protest of the African-American civil rights movement: the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, he advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to racial segregation in the United States. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American ... Read more >
The Republic of Biafra, a breakaway state of eastern Nigeria, surrenders to Nigeria after three years of costly fighting. In 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain. Six years later, the Muslim Hausas in northern Nigeria began massacring the Christian Igbos in the region, prompting tens of thousands of Igbos to flee to the east, where their people were the dominant ethnic group. The Igbo... Read more >