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November 14, 2011 @ 9:15 am

40. Elizabeth I


After the short and troubled reign of Mary I, Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 facing numerous challenges: a country deeply divided on religion, threatened by France and Scotland (via Mary Queen of Scots), an awkward relationship with Mary's widower, Philip II of Spain, plus great uncertainty as to who was next in line to rule the country. Elizabeth survived all these challenges, outlasted her rivals and has become one of the most revered monarchs in English history, but is her beloved status deserved or is there more to find than the traditional mythology?

If all the names get a bit confusing, check out our handy who's who guide to the episode:

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  • James

    Really enjoyed this episode, but I think you gave Drake a bit too much credit for defeating the Armada. John Hawkins probably did far more to defeat the Spanish. He designed the new ships that made up the Elizabethan fleet, and during the naval war itself proved to be a far more reliable commander than Drake, who was a bit of a reckless glory hound. He also invented the word ’shark’, which is cool I guess. On the other hand Drake was admittedly much cooler than Hawkins, and Hawkins did sort of invent the slave trade, which I suppose might be why history tends to overlook him. Anyway, looking forward to the Civil War!

    Nov 14, 2011 at 8:34 pm
  • rexfactor

    Hi James, probably a fair point about the Armada - had to be fairly brief to fit everything into the episode so may well have simplified too much in Drake’s favour. Excellent fact about the word “shark”!

    Nov 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm
  • Richard Tracey

    You deducted ’subjectivity’ points because Elizabeth broke the succession and then gave her no ‘dynasty’ points for the same reason. Surely this is double jeopardy. What would her score have been if you’d eliminated the succession from ’subjectivity’?

    Nov 21, 2011 at 1:30 am
  • rexfactor

    Hi Richard. It’s true, the lack of a Tudor succession (and her refusal to marry) does get reflected in the dynasty score. However, the other aspect of the succession that Elizabeth could have controlled was nominating who should come after her in the absence of her having any children but she decided not to do this either. Could have caused civil war if she’d died in 1562 and when she did die in 1603 (as we’ll see in the next episode) it was left to Robert Cecil to sort things out behind her back.

    Nov 21, 2011 at 10:28 am
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