Born: 7 September 1533
Died: 24 March 1603
Birthplace: Greenwich, England
Best known as: "The Virgin Queen" of England, 1558-1603
The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I became one of the most effective monarchs in British history. She succeeded Mary I in 1558 and reigned for the next 44 years. Dedicated to her position as ruler, Elizabeth fought off rivals (such as Mary, Queen of Scots, a rival heir to the throne who was imprisoned for 19 years and executed in 1587) and expanded England's power overseas. Most notably, she led the country in defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588. Her reign is considered one of England's high points: it featured luminaries such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake and William Shakespeare, and was the birth of England's global expansion and colonization. Elizabeth never married (she was known as "the Virgin Queen") and her cousin, James I, ascended the English throne after her death.
Extra credit: The next British monarch to be named Elizabeth was Queen Elizabeth II, who became queen in 1952... Elizabeth I was played by Helen Mirren in Elizabeth I in 2005, by Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth (1998), by Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love (1998), and twice by Bette Davis: in The Virgin Queen (1955) and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939).
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