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Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

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Queen of England, 1558-1603
Known for

Elizabeth I, 1533-1603.
View full size imageElizabeth I, 1533-1603. © NMM

Elizabeth I has become one of the most popular monarchs in English history.

Her reign witnessed a period of prosperity, a flourishing of the arts, significant feats of exploration and successful English resistance to the might of Spain, then the most powerful country in Europe.

Elizabeth was known both for extensive knowledge and for her extravagant dress.

Port connection

Elizabeth extended the authority of Trinity House, allowing it to light beacons throughout England; in 1573, she granted Trinity House its own coat of arms with the motto ‘Trinitas in Unitate’ (Trinity in Unity) 

In 1558, she appointed a Commission to select ‘legal quays’ on the Thames in London; these were special places for the landing of foreign goods; this measure helped London’s commercial expansion

In 1600 she signed the Charter of the English East India Company.

Interesting facts

Counter commemorating Queen Elizabeth I.
View full size imageCounter commemorating Queen Elizabeth I. © NMM
Princess Elizabeth spent two months imprisoned in the Tower of London on the orders of her half sister, Mary Tudor, who saw her as a threat to her throne.

Throughout her forty-four year reign, Elizabeth received many marriage proposals but never married or had any children.

Life story
1533Born and christened at Greenwich, she was the second daughter of King Henry VIII.
1558Became Queen after the death of her sister Mary.
1585Elizabeth sides with the Netherlands against Spain.
1587The English successfully attack a Spanish fleet at Cadiz.
1588Defeat of the Spanish Armada.
1595Spanish land in Cornwall and burn Penzance.
1597Essex leads an unsuccessful expedition against the Spanish, but bad weather defeats the second Spanish Armada.
1603Elizabeth dies and is succeeded by James VI of Scotland, who becomes James I of England.

Find out more
StoriesThe Tudor and Stuart port
London becomes a gateway to the markets and products of the world
StoriesTrinity House
Showing the way
StoriesDeptford and Woolwich: London's Royal Dockyards
The rise and decline of Henry VIII's Dockyards
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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