September 7, 1533: Elizabeth I is born.

The future Queen Elizabeth I, the last monarch of the Tudor Dynasty, was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was executed in 1536. By the Second Succession Act, passed by Parliament that same year, she and her half-sister Mary were removed from the line of succession, although both were returned to the line by the Third Succession Act; though she was an illegitimate child for most of her early childhood, Elizabeth enjoyed a first-class education and was a favorite (as were all of Henry’s children) of Catherine Parr, the king’s sixth and final wife.

She became queen at age 25, following the death of Mary I in late 1558. Although not free from problems, which she dealt with mostly with pragmatism and moderation, her forty-four year reign is often described as a “Golden Age”: the arts and particularly theatre flourished (at the head of this flowering stood the era’s foremost playwrights, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare); the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 granted the English a great sense of national pride; there was comparatively little internal religious strife; and the first seeds of the British American colonies were planted during her reign. She never married, and therefore never produced heirs, and so, following her death in 1603, the throne passed to the Scottish Stuarts. 

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