Elisabeth I

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The reign of Elisabeth I
Elisabeth became queen in the 1558, after Mary.
At the time England was in reality a divided country, above all by the religious view.
When Elisabeth ascended the throne she was 25, attractive, with a strong personality and with a good education. She was a political genius.
Elisabeth’s court was brilliant, full of poets, actors and musicians who wanted to entertain the queen. During her reign we can speak of a flowering of literature, in the form of original words and in translation.
In that period started English poetry of Jonson, Spencer and Sydney, and also Shakespeare wrote some poems.
Elisabeth’s politics:
She divided it in internal affairs and in foreign affairs.
The most important problem to solve was the religious question. The queen tried to take a middle course. She was a Protestant.
We have to remember two acts:
- Act of Supremacy (1559)
- Act of Uniformity (1559)
These acts wanted to avoid the extreme of both Catholicism and Protestantism. Some penalties were prescribed for people who refused to take the oath to the queen.
Thus some Catholics migrated to the continent, others looked on the Catholic Mary Stuard, Queen of Scotland, hoping to replace the Queen.
Always in this period started a new sect, the Puritans, which were rebel Protestants.
The Puritans had a very strict vision of life and religion too.
They stressed the importance of reading the Bible and interpreting it individually. This was a criticism of the official clergy. They were hostile to the official authority. So soon they became a problem the Queen, who persecuted them on the ground of not-conformity to the Church of England.
Elisabeth ruled wisely through her Privy Council, of about 20 members. These members were nobles, career officials and an important secretary.
She travelled a lot, making Royal journey, to meet nobles.
During her reign domestic trade and industry grew together with international trading, like mining and ship trading. There were some skilled men, who where not easy to find. So this problem and the enclosure movements created a lot of matters.
Elisabeth was unmarried and she used it as a political weapon, encouraging the hopes of the European princes of a diplomatic marriage.
At the time there was a dangerous situation in Ireland. This country had became one of the most important battle grounds of the Counter Reformation.
At the time we know that Elisabeth recognized Spain as a trade rival and enemy.
Open war was avoided at the beginning. British and Spain interests clashed, both in Spanish Netherlands and in the Spanish colonies in the New World.
England supported the Protestants Dutch, why Spain fought Protestants.
In the meanwhile explorations and oversized trades expanded, making England a commercial and sea power.
The most important English sea captains were:
- Hawkins (1532 - 1595)
- Drake (1541 - 1596)
- Raleigh (1552 – 1618)
These were pirates, supported secretly by the Queen. They attacked and caught Spanish sheep, bringing precious metals, tobacco and slaves.
Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe in 1577 – 1580, bringing back silver, gold and unknown spicy.
Businessmen financed these voyages, because they wanted to find new markets and they wanted to make a fortune, trading precious goods. So sprang up a big number of companies, for oversized trade. We have to remember three principal companies:
- The East India Company
- The Africa Company
- The Levant Company
Philip of Spain thus decided to attack England and in 1588 the war started.
140 Spanish galleons appeared in the Chanel. But these galleons were slow and heavy, why the English sheep were faster, lower and armed with long range guns.
The Spanish fleet, called Invincible Armada, was defeated.
The weather helped England.
So there were brilliant moments for England, which were united.
Elisabeth died in 1603 and the English throne passed to the hands of the Stuart.
The Tudor’s reign was over.
The first king of the Stuart’s dynasty was James I.
Greta Gilardi Classe 3xA 29 marzo 2006

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