England · Queens · Tutors · Uncategorized

November 17, 1558 – Queen Elizabeth I Ascends the Throne

I was not going to touch this story today, because it seems like everyone’s favorite story today. However, I keep getting reminded in posts by my partner in crime littlesparksoflife2 that our goal is to do posts that help us to learn.

I realized that I do not know a ton about the Elizabethan Period of English history.

Tutor Ensign
Image Source: Historical Flags of our Ancestors

On November 17, 1558, Elizabeth – Daughter of King Henry VII and Anne Boleyn—succeeded her half-sister Mary I as Queen of England and Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth I 1558-1603
Image Source:Wikipedia

Since her father’s passing in 1547 she had two half-siblings have brief rules on the throne. Edward VI reigned from 1547-1553. Mary I, “Bloody Mary” because she loved to burn protestants reigned from 1553-1558.

Elizabeth reigned for 44 years, and having never married, the Virgin Queen was the last of the Tutor line.

Her reign has been called the Elizabethan Era, and is considered one of the high points of English history, and was responsible for some incredible changes to the world we know.


The new Queen and Her Parliament set out to fix the religious divides that were created by the previous three English Monarchs.

The Act of Supremacy of 1558 one again told Rome that the Church of England was a separate entity and not under Catholic control. The act also gave Elizabeth the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This was not just a reinstatement of her father’s church. It did bring with it that the monarchy was the head of the church and not granted by Parliament.  Elizabeth also added an Oath of Supremacy requiring anyone in public or church office to swear allegiance to the monarch as head of church and state.

The Act of Uniformity of 1559 established the type of form the Church of England should take, and re-established the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer, is a set of written prayers and structured worship services used by the Church of England. The Act also made church attendance mandatory or be fined.


During the Elizabethan Era, we had the birth of the English Renaissance theatre (I almost always use the English spelling of the word). Playwrights like William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. The construction of theatres and the traveling player companies were high points of English life.

Christopher Marlowe
Image Source: Biography.com

Along with traveling acting companies, traveling minstrels were all the rage both by nobles and commoners. Music was very Important to the lives of everyone. And since everyone had to go to church Hymns became very important in the lives of farm and field workers.

Science and technology:

The Elizabethan Era did not see the scientific advancements that the next century saw, yet there were still some amazing things.

Sir Frances Drake circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1581. Advances were made in ship building with the British Dreadnaught, faster, nimbler, and bigger guns than other navies.

The British Navy was able to defeat the Spanish Armada, and replace Spain as the commanders of the sea.

Martin Frobisher explored the Arctic between 1576 and 1578 on three separate voyages. The was advancement in the understanding of the compass and magnatism.

In 1564 Guilliam Boonen became the first coach maker for Queen Elizabeth. He introduced the invention of spring-suspension coaches to England. Coaches became to the well to do of the Elizabethan Era, as sports cars and SUVs are to today’s world.

Colonizing the New World:

In 1583, Humphrey Gilbert sailed to Newfoundland, taking possession of the harbour of St John’s together with all land within two hundred leagues to the north and south of it.

Sir Walter Raleigh gained permission to colonize Virginia (Named for the Queen) in 1584. Raleigh sent people to settle the Roanoke Colony. It is one of histories mysteries as to why the settlers all vanished.

1600 Queen Elizabeth created the East India Company, it established trading posts throughout India and Bangladesh, which later became thriving British Colonies.

Crime and Punishment:

This was my favorite part of researching this time period, HOLY COW! I am glad that I did not live then.

Crimes were met with violent, cruel, painful punishments, often in front of large crowds.

So! Executions were common place for the people of England. Queen Mary rather enjoyed burning protestants.

If you were to be executed, beheading was the way you wanted to go, it was quick, pretty painless and was the nicest way to be executed. It was usually reserved for Nobles and Politically important people.

The worst way to die, usually reserved for murderers and people committing High Treason was to be Hanged, drawn, and quartered. So, they would hang you until you passed out, revive you, tie a horse to each of you hands and feet all pulling in a different direction. And then once you body was good and stretched as far as possible the cut you down the middle into four pieces.

Thieves would have their hands cut off, if they were lucky. Eyes would be pulled out with hot pokers, and the unlucky ones would have their fingers pulled off.

There were two classes of criminals in Elizabethan England, Nobles and commoners and there were different types of crimes they could commit.


  • High Treason
  • Blasphemy
  • Sedition
  • Murder
  • Rebellion
  • Spying
  • Alchemy
  • Witchcraft


  • Theft
  • Poaching
  • Cut Purse
  • Forgery
  • Adultery
  • Begging
  • Fraud
  • Debt
  • Cheating

The rack was a pretty common punishment for the time. But most of these crimes would end in hanging.

And you read that right – being poor was a crime! Begging, a crime. Not going to church a fine, that the poor could not pay.

Reminds me of this Simpsons scene.


It was a golden age for England, and the country did prosper. There are many things that did not get mentioned in this article.

Fashion, I am not a fashion person so, it does not appeal to me.

There were so many new holidays created, may favorite being the 12 Days of Christmas celebrated between December 24th and January 6th. And of course you can’t celebrate without going back to work on Plough Monday –The first Monday after Twelfth night, anywhere between January 7th and 14th.

It was a wonderful time of stability and growth for England. For her Reign 1588-1603 – 44 years—England was in a state of relative peace and expanding its influence around the globe.


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