Elizabeth episode 1: Presented by eminent historian David Starkey, Elizabeth explores the turbulent life and times of England’s Virgin Queen by augmenting newly shot re-creations of famous events with artistic interpretations of Good Queen Bess, glimpses of British landmarks and period artifacts, and incisive passages quoted from historical records.
Elizabeth’s reign began in the late 16th century, with her beloved England threatened from both without and within. As this four-hour documentary demonstrates, she rose to these challenges, most notably building the Royal Navy into a world-renowned fighting force that defeated the Spanish Armada and presiding over a cultural renaissance distinguished by the rise of William Shakespeare. Starkey’s commentary paints a vivid picture the Elizabethan era and also describes the private struggles of a queen whose legendary devotion to her people took a huge toll on her personal life.
Elizabeth episode 1 – Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife, who was executed two-and-a-half years after Elizabeth’s birth. Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled, and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled until his death in 1553, bequeathing the crown to Lady Jane Grey and ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, the Roman Catholic Mary and the younger Elizabeth, in spite of statute law to the contrary. Edward’s will was set aside and Mary became queen, deposing Lady Jane Grey. During Mary’s reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.
In 1558 upon Mary’s death, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister to the throne and set out to rule by good counsel. She depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. One of her first actions as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the supreme governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement was to evolve into the Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir; however, despite numerous courtships, she never did. She was eventually succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland. She had earlier been responsible for the imprisonment and execution of James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots.