The Virgin Queen Who Pivoted England to World Dominance.

Elizabeth I of England - Wikipedia
Elizabeth I

Many know the story of Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England. The queen whom the first North American colony Virginia was named after. She was also the queen who led England into the Golden Age. But how did she lead England to become golden?

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII is well known for beheading his wives because of his want for a male heir and the king who changed England to a Protestant country so that he could divorce his wives who failed to produce a male heir. After Anne no longer had the favor of Henry, he annulled his marriage with Anne, making Elizabeth illegitimate. After Henry’s death, the throne went to his only son Edward VI (with his last wife) at the tender age of 9 who died not too long after. The throne went to Lady Jane Grey, Edward’s cousin. Nine days later, Edward’s half-sister and Henry VIIIs only child with his first wife (whom he didn’t behead), Mary Tudor, took back the throne for the Catholic Church and eventually got married to Philip of Spain. Mary became known as Bloody Mary, because of her endless authorized killing of Catholic betrayers who were burned at the stake and reigned for 42 years until her death. The throne then went to her half-sister, Elizabeth I, whom she previously imprisoned for a year.

Elizabeth I, reversed the throne back to the Protestant faith. There were several attempts on Elizabeth’s life but she persevered. At the time that she assumed the throne, England had great debts and had a newly passive aggresive relationship with Spain (still led by Philip of Spain), whose ultimate goal was to kick Elizabeth off the throne and re-establish the Catholic faith in England. Elizabeth spent many years entertaining potential suitors to wed but to no avail. The English at the time believed that she must be married in order to be a righteous queen. She would remain single for the rest of her life.

Elizabeth views the New World.

Previous English royals sent expeditions to the New World but it was only until Elizabeth that England would establish a residence. Sir Walter Raleigh was an explorer who had an infatuation with the New World. It has been said that Raleigh had a romantic relationship with Elizabeth and maybe this is why he won the support of Elizabeth who gave him a seven-year charter to colonize and “rid the lands of barbarous, heathen non-christian believers.” Raleigh and his privateers (pirates) were even given the right to pillage Spanish and Portuguese fleet in the New World.

Historical articles and illustrations » Blog Archive Sir Walter ...
Sir Walter Raleigh

Raleigh never made it to North America but did help fund the first English settlement in North America, Roanoke (the lost colony). Raleigh, North Carolina is named after him as well. Raleigh led two expeditions to South America, in search of gold said to be in “El Dorado”. He never found it, but his legend lives on in the West Indies and South America as a great explorer. All else, he was pivotal in entering England into the race for the New World, acquiring land and resources (most likely from Spain and Portugal), bringing England into the world stage as an important player.

Francis Drake - Facts, Ship & Life - Biography
Sir Francis Drake

After the attempt for Elizabeth’s throne by Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Spanish, Elizabeth ordered Mary of Scots beheading, therefore, leading to the Spanish Armada. The Spanish Armada was a war brought on by the Spanish to finally take back England for the Roman Catholic Church and rid England of Elizabeth’s reign. Not to mention, England helped the Dutch to reclaim their lands from the Spanish which further raised tensions between England and Spain. Unfortunately, the Spanish lost the war which weakened the Spanish. This loss helped the Netherlands and England to include themselves in what Spain and Portugal had acquired, lands to cultivate and gold to create an enterprise for a European land that could solely never provide what the new world could.

Thanks to Sir Francis Drake and his English troops, Catholicism was further abated in England. He too won favor with the Queen and won fame for his raids on Spanish ports and fleets. Like Raleigh, Drake gained wealth for England by stealing and raiding other Europeans.

Was This the Most Ambitious—and Disastrous—Campaign in Military ...
The Spanish Armada

Even though Elizabeth may have entered England to the world stage and brought it into foreign dominancy, the mere fact that she allowed her English privateers to take from the Spanish and Portuguese and call it their own is more than enough to show that the English did not care how they (supposedly) reached supremacy financially.

British Empire Timeline
The English in the New World.

Where would we have been now if the English didn’t intercept in the glory that Christopher Columbus gained in claiming the New World for Spain? Would we have ever had the thirteen original colonies? What if Elizabeth had a different upbringing, having less to prove because she wasn’t deemed illegitimate? If England was not Protestant and was still under the Catholic order like Spain, would there have been a need to intercept in the Spanish discovery of the New World? Would England have needed to claim lands for its Protestant kingdom to show that not only a Catholic kingdom could claim lands for its own? These are all questions that I think of when I hear this story.

Elizabeth was a great queen who pivoted England onto the world stage with her love of literature and foreign affairs. Elizabeth also helped England to gain financial dominance. However, it is rarely noted how financial dominance was gained in England. It appears from what I have read, is that it started truthfully with the bounty acquired by England’s privateers from the Spanish and Portuguese, in addition to their seafaring prowess. This has helped me to further wrap my head around why the English didn’t care to take lands from the natives, or further bring over Africans to the New World to harvest their empire, furthermore becoming a colonial power and world leader for years to come.



One thought on “The Virgin Queen Who Pivoted England to World Dominance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s