In the years before the ascension of Elizabeth I, England experienced much political and social change. Elizabeth’s father, King Henry the VIII, caused religious disorder and upset over his marital scandals when he broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and established the Protestant Church of England.

Upon his death, his son Edward VI continued to institute Protestant change and reforms. However, Edward died at the early age of 15, and his sister Mary I became queen and ruler of England.

Mary I, known as Bloody Mary, returned England to Roman Catholicism. Mary ordered over 300 Protestants to be burned at the stake, and many more were forced to leave their homes and country. Her half-sister, Elizabeth I did not oppose Mary, but her government and ruling over the people was unpopular and faced much opposition.

Mary became ill in May of 1558, and Elizabeth learned of her sister’s death on November 17, 1558. Mary recognized Elizabeth as her heir before her death.

The coronation ceremony for Elizabeth I took place at Westminster Abbey on January 15, 1559. The House of Tudor produced five monarchs, and Elizabeth was the last. Elizabeth ruled for forty-five years. She was called the Virgin Queen, Good Queen Bess and Gloriana.

Elizabeth I, educated as a Protestant, reinstated the Church of England and maintained peace in her country throughout her reign. She was victorious against the Spanish Armada in 1588 and saved England from invasion. These accomplishments led her to be considered one of the greatest monarchs of England.