- from Shakespeare
During most of Shakespeare’s life, Elizabeth I was the queen of England.
She was probably the greatest ruler ever to sit upon the English throne. During her reign (1558–1603), England became a first-rate power with a strong navy. Commerce, industry, and the arts flourished. However, Elizabeth almost didn’t make it to the throne. Her father, Henry VIII, beheaded her mother for treason, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. But as Henry’s only surviving heir, Elizabeth was crowned queen of England at age 25. Strong-willed and well educated, she inspired her people. On the eve of the Spanish invasion, Elizabeth, dressed in armor, addressed her soldiers: “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”