Queen Elizabeth I was one of the most powerful redheads—and monarchs—in European history. This portrait commemorates England's improbable maritime victory over the Spanish Armada (the fleet tossed at sea in the background) in 1588. Elizabeth's power is reflected in the sumptuous gown, jewels, and her hand resting on a globe of the known world—beneath her own crown.

Painting attributed to George Gower

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    On November 17, 1558, Elizabeth I became queen of England. Elizabeth would remain queen for 44 years, one of the most powerful monarchs in European history.
     
    The reign of Elizabeth I is known as the “Elizabethan Era.” Many historians regard this time as a “golden age” in British history, when the arts, political thought, and military strength flourished. The artist most associated with the Elizabethan Era is the playwright William Shakespeare. Elizabeth and her advisers created a political climate that allowed England to enjoy a long period of relative peace and prosperity. The military strength of the Elizabethan state is remembered by the maritime defeat of the mighty Spanish Armada.
     
    The Elizabethan Era is also marked by a period of exploration and expansion of the British Empire. Under Elizabeth I’s reign, British explorer Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe, British explorer Martin Frobisher’s search for the Northwest Passage led him to explore the Canadian Arctic, and British explorer Sir Walter Raleigh searched for the “Lost City of Gold” in South America. It was also during the Elizabethan Era that the British Empire established its first colony in what would become the United States, the ill-fated Roanoke Colony. In fact, the U.S. state of Virginia is named after Elizabeth—the Virgin Queen. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adviser Noun

    person who offers informed advice about an issue.

    Arctic Noun

    region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Arctic
    associate Verb

    to connect.

    circumnavigate Verb

    to go completely around something (usually the Earth).

    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    emerge Verb

    to develop or come into view.

    empire Noun

    group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    expansion Noun

    process of enlarging.

    exploration Noun

    study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.

    flourish Verb

    to thrive or be successful.

    globe Noun

    scale model of the Earth, or sometimes used to mean the Earth itself.

    Encyclopedic Entry: globe
    hire Verb

    to employ, or put to work for money or other goods.

    historian Noun

    person who studies events and ideas of the past.

    maritime Adjective

    having to do with the ocean.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    monarch Noun

    king or queen.

    New World Noun

    the Western Hemisphere, made up of the Americas and their islands.

    Northwest Passage Noun

    waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

    political Adjective

    having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

    prosperity Noun

    success or good fortune.

    queen Noun

    female monarch.

    reign Verb

    to rule as a monarch.

    virgin Noun

    person who has not had sex.