Queen Elizabeth I

Lived:September 7, 1533—March 24, 1603 (aged 69)
Career:Queen of England, 1558-1603

Elizabeth I was queen of England and Ireland from November 17, 1558, until her death on March 24, 1603. Known as the Virgin Queen or Good Queen Bess, she was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Elizabeth was born September 7, 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. After Anne's execution two and a half years after Elizabeth's birth, the marriage was annulled and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. After the death of Henry VIII in 1547, Elizabeth's younger half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his own death in 1553. Edward bequeathed the crown to Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister Mary, Duchess of Suffolk, but she was deposed and Elizabeth's older half-sister Mary became queen. During Mary's reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded Mary to the throne, beginning what is known as the Elizabethan era. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, which later evolved into the Church of England. Although it was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir, she never did, despite numerous courtships. In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been, and she was relatively religiously tolerant. Her speech to the troops at Tilbury was followed by one of the greatest military victories in English history.