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Queen Elizabeth I

Updated: Apr 30

Queen Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, ascended to the English throne in 1558. Her upbringing was marked by precocious seriousness, receiving an education typically reserved for male heirs. Elizabeth’s reign faced numerous challenges, including her precarious position during the reigns of her half siblings, Edward VI and Mary I. Following her imprisonment after Sir Thomas Wyatt’s rebellion in 1554, Elizabeth rose to power when her sister, Mary died.

During her reign, Elizabeth oversaw significant events that shaped England’s history. She restored England to Protestantism, a pivotal decision that defined her rule. Additionally, she faced the threat of conspiracies from British Catholics and navigated through delicate diplomatic relations with Catholic powers, particularly Spain.

One of the most notable events of Elizabeth’s reign was the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, a decision made due to Mary’s perceived threat to Elizabeth’s rule. Moreover, Elizabeth’s England famously defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, securing its position as a dominant naval power and bolstering national pride.

Elizabeth’s administration also sought to assert control over Ireland, fearing potential Spanish and Catholic influence. To consolidate power, she encouraged English settlement in Ireland, particularly in regions like Munster. This effort aimed to quell rebellion and solidify loyalty to the English crown.

The rebellion in Munster in 1580 posed a significant challenge to Elizabeth’s authority. Led by the powerful Earl of Desmond, the rebellion aimed to enlist Spanish support against Elizabeth’s rule. However, English forces, led by Lord Grey, brutally suppressed the rebellion, culminating in the Siege of Smerwick and subsequent massacre of Irish and Spanish soldiers.

To further assert control, English troops under Lord Grey engaged in scorched-earth tactics, destroying rebel-held lands and triggering a famine in Munster. The Earl of Desmond was hunted down and killed in 1583, leading to the confiscation of vast tracts of land by the English crown. The plantation of Munster began in earnest, with English settlers granted land in the region. However, these settlements faced resistance from the local Irish population, leading to ongoing conflict and instability.

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  • more of a ‘force for good’

  • Less of a ‘force for good’


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