On November 17, 1558, Queen Elizabeth I of England ascended to the throne.
The youngest child of infamous king Henry VIII, Elizabeth Tudor was the last of three siblings to take the throne. Her rule lasted forty-four years, and would come to be known as England’s Golden Age. In part, this was because Elizabeth was a great patron of the arts, allowing creative pursuits to flourish. It was during this time that William Shakespeare came to prominence, largely due to the favor of the queen.
Elizabeth wasn’t focused solely on artistic pursuits, of course. Under her guidance, the English navy became a force to be reckoned with. This strength would influence England’s position in world politics for centuries. Most notably, her ships defeated the mighty Spanish Armada during a great battle in the English Channel in 1588.
She increased her power further by reinstating the Protestant Anglican church, which had been ousted during the short reign of her Catholic half-sister Mary. In the Anglican church, the monarch of England is the supreme religious head. And, despite a dazzling array of suitors, Elizabeth never married, refusing to allow a foreign man to take the throne of England in her stead.
A woman who took the throne, transformed a nation, and refused to let anyone get in her way? Inspirationally cool.