Today in History: Sunday 15 January 1559. Two months after the death of her half-sister, Queen Mary I of England, Elizabeth Tudor, the 25-year-old daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, is crowned Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey in London.
Queen Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch – born at Greenwich on 7 September 1533, as the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
Her early life was full of uncertainties, and her chances of succeeding to the throne seemed very slight once her half-brother Edward was born in 1537. She was then third in line behind her Roman Catholic half-sister, Princess Mary.
Roman Catholics, indeed, always considered her illegitimate and she only narrowly escaped execution in the wake of a failed rebellion against Queen Mary in 1554.
Elizabeth succeeded to the throne on her half-sister’s death in November 1558. She was very well-educated (fluent in five languages), and had inherited intelligence, determination and shrewdness from both parents.
Her 45-year reign is generally considered one of the most glorious in English history. During it a secure Church of England was established. Its doctrines were laid down in the 39 Articles of 1563, a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
Elizabeth herself refused to ‘make windows into men’s souls … there is only one Jesus Christ and all the rest is a dispute over trifles’; she asked for outward uniformity.
Most of her subjects accepted the compromise as the basis of their faith, and her church settlement probably saved England from religious wars like those which France suffered in the second half of the 16th century.