Elizabeth I Timeline

1558 Elizabeth Tudor becomes Queen of England and William Cecil her chancellor.
1559 Act of Supremacy (modified) and Act of Uniformity are passed by Parliament. Parliament
becomes the battleground where the extremist Protestants (Puritans) will fight for their privileges
and the Queen for her prerogative (on religion and on marriage).
1560 Scottish reformers (headed by John Knox) appeal Elizabeth for help. Treaty of Edinburgh:
Scotland recognizes Elizabeth’s title.
1561 13 years later Mary Stuart returns to Scotland (after her husband’s death, King Francis).
1565 Mary Stuart marries Lord Darnley, an English noble.
1566 Darnley murders Mary’s Italian advisor Rizzio. A year later Darnley is murdered by the Earl
of Bothwell who later on will kidnap Mary in order to marry her.
1567 The underhand game starts: Elizabeth’s hidden support of rebels in The Netherlands,
France and the English pirates. 1568 Spain sends the Duke of Alva with an army of 12.000 men.
1567 Mary Stuart abdicates and flees to England: lifelong confinement for 19 years and
beginning of Catholic plots against Elizabeth.
End of first ten years

1568-1572 Catholic plots by the Duke of Norfolk and the anti-Cecil coalition. The plot is
discovered, 800 men suffered death and ended feudalism in the north.
1569 The Catholic reaction: Papal Bull excommunicating Elizabeth. In England Norfolk’s second
plot, the plot is unveiled by Cecil. Consequence: Norfolk is beheaded and Cecil becomes Lord
1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre takes place in France against Huguenots (French Calvinist
Protestants) instigated by Catherine of Medici.
1578-1581 The Duke of Alençon/ Anjou and the wooing game (Elizabeth is 50).
End of second decade

1580 First Jesuit missioners to England among them many spies sent by the Pope, Spain and
English Catholics: 200 men were burnt and the Spanish ambassador expelled.
1584 The Duke of Orange, leader of the rebels in The Netherlands is assassinated. Elizabeth has
to play the game openly: she sends English troops under the leadership of the Earl of Leicester
which ends up in failure.
1587 Mary Stuart is accused of treason thanks to the evidence provided by Walsingham’s plan
(Babington plot). In a successful attempt to entrap her, Walsingham arranged Mary's letters to be
smuggled in and out of her residence in a beer keg. Mary was misled into thinking these secret
letters were secure, while in reality they were deciphered and read by Walsingham's agents.
Consequence: Mary Stuart is beheaded.
1588 The Invincible Armanda (30.000 men) sets off from Spain under the command of the Duke of
Medina Sidonia who was supposed to meet the Duke of Parma’s fleet at the English Channel.
However, while awaiting communications it was driven out by an English fire ship attack. Then a
storm took place, stranded in the channel and then in the North Sea more than 24 vessels were
wrecked on the western coasts of Ireland. Of the fleet's initial 130 ships, about fifty never returned
to Spain. Elizabeth had inscribed on a medal to commemorate the victory: “God blew and
scattered them all”.
This is part of the famous speech which Elizabeth gave to English forces stationed at Tilbury:
My loving people,... Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself, that under God I have placed my chiefest strength
and safeguard in the loyal hearts and goodwill of my subjects; therefore, I am come amongst you as you see at this time, not
for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst you all – to lay down
for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a
weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king – and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that
Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour
should grow by me, I myself will take up arms – I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your
virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns, and, we do assure you, on
the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you.

End of third decade
1594/97 Definition of the Church of England as an independent Protestant Episcopal Church.
1598 Ireland’s rebellion. The Earl of Essex (Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s stepson) is sent to
crush the rebels, he fails and returns to England where he plots against the Queen. Essex is
1601 Poor laws are issued to counterbalance the economic crisis.
1603 The Queen dies and James VI of Scotland (Mary Stuart’s son) becomes King James I of
End of fourth decade

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