- from Shakespeare
For most of Shakespeare’s life, Elizabeth I was the queen of England.
She was probably England’s greatest ruler ever. During her reign (1558–1603), England became a first-rate power with a strong navy. Commerce, industry, and the arts grew by leaps and bounds. But Elizabeth almost didn’t make it to the throne. Her father, Henry VIII, beheaded her mother for treason. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. But when Henry died, Elizabeth was his only surviving heir. So she was crowned queen at the age of 25. Strong-willed and well educated, she inspired people. On the eve of the Spanish invasion, Elizabeth wore armor to tell 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.”