Elizabeth’s father was Henry VIII.
His first wife, Catharine, was Spanish.
After 20 years of marriage, their only
child was a girl named Mary.
With Henry wanting a male heir, he
began looked for another wife and fell in
love with Anne Boleyn. Due to his
Catholic religion not allowing him to
divorce and re-marry, Henry looked at
ways of changing Catholicism in
In late 1532, Anne became pregnant.
Henry then divorced Catherine and married
Anne. On the 7th September 1533, Henry
and Anne’s daughter Elizabeth was
The Popes response to the divorce and
marriage was to excommunicate Henry. Soon
after, Henry was declared Supreme Head of
the Church of England, with payments that
would have gone to the Pope, then going
to the crown.
Henry had the bible translated into
English, allowed priests to marry and
allowed divorce. Through time, the
protestant preaching's of the German,
Martin Luther, filtered into England
where the Church of England adopted the
Elizabeth was three when Henry had her
mother tried for adultery and treason.
Anne Boleyn was beheaded 19th May 1536.
Henry then had Parliament declare his
marriage invalid, that making Elizabeth
In 1537, Henry's third wife, Jane
Seymour, gave birth to their son Edward.
In all, Henry had 8 children and six
When Henry VIII died in 1547, he left
the throne to his son Edward who was a
Protestant. Edward died aged 16 in 1553
of consumption. Henry's first child,
Mary, then became Queen. She married
Philip II of Spain.
As Mary was a strong Catholic,
she tried to restore Catholicism to
England. About 300 Protestants were
burned as heretics at that time,
earning her the nickname Bloody
Mary. She even had her half sister,
Elizabeth, a Protestant, locked up
in the Tower of London for a
When Mary died suddenly of an
illness 17th November 1558,
Elizabeth was elected queen in
favour of the Catholic Mary Queen
of Scots, who was the granddaughter
of Henry VIII.
As the population of England was
growing rapidly, Elizabeth adopted a new
currency. She also made all the local
parishes responsible for their poor and
had people sent to work on the farms.
With the English and Welsh economy
under control, she set up trading
stations in Turkey, Russia and the East
Indies. She also funded the expeditions
of Francis Drake, Humphrey Gilbert and
Walter Raleigh. Those expeditions
established the first English outposts in
North America. The building of the
British Empire had begun.
Tension grew between the English sea
traders and the Spanish at that time.
When the Spanish slaughtered 200 English
sailors in the Mexican port of Vera Cruz,
Elizabeth was forced to expand her navy
to protect her trading vessels. Also, at
that time, there were rumours the
Catholics were plotting to assassinate
Elizabeth to allow Mary Queen of Scots to
Mary was accused of plotting to
kill Elizabeth and locked in
Fotheringhay Castle. After her
conviction, it took three months of
persuasion by her advisors before
Elizabeth signed the death warrant,
Mary was beheaded 8th
Elizabeth began sponsoring
privateering raids on Spanish ships
and ports. Although she acquired
much of the Spanish gold and
treasures, Elizabeth always denied
any involvement in the raids. Those
raids though meant war with Spain
In July 1588, the Spanish sent about
130 ships to transport its army from
Flanders to invade England. Sir Francis
Drake led the English Navy out of port to
meet the Spanish Armada.
Although the English ships failed to
sink many Spanish ships, they did succeed
in driving the Armada into the North Sea.
Of the 130 Spanish ships, only 67 managed
to make it back to Spain by rounding the
treacherous north coast of Scotland and
west coast of Ireland.
Before Elizabeth died, 24th march
1603, aged 70, she designated James VI of
Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots son, as her
By 1913, the British Empire was the
most extensive empire in world history.
The empire had a population of about 458
million people, approximately one-quarter
of the world's population. It covered
about 14.2 million square miles (36.6
million square km).