Historical Context

The Reign of Elizabeth
This poem was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was an exciting time of growth and prosperity for the country. Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII (1491- 1547) and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry had six wives over the course of his lifetime, forcing him to separate England from the Roman Catholic church in order to follow his desire to divorce freely. After Henry’s death in 1547, he was followed by Elizabeth’s half-brother Edward, who was then only ten years old. Edward was king briefly until he died of tuberculosis in 1553. Because of a bill that one of his dukes, John Dudley, had him sign when he was dying, succession to the crown fell to Lady Jane Gray, who was Dudley’s daughter-in-law. She reigned for four days until Mary I, another of Henry’s children, was able to restore control of the crown to the Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth supported Mary, who was her half-sister, but Mary did not trust her because Elizabeth was a Protestant (Mary was a devout Catholic). Mary had Elizabeth locked up in the Tower of London in 1554. Elizabeth became queen in 1558 when Mary I died. There were plots against Elizabeth, but none were powerful enough to remove her from the crown. The Catholics wanted her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots to be queen, so she had Mary imprisoned; when she had Mary executed in 1587, Spain, which was a predominantly Catholic country,...

(The entire section is 614 words.)