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Monarchs of Shakespeare's Time
William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd 1564. He died on April 23rd 1616.
During Shakespeare's lifetime there were 2 major ruling families of the British Monarchy. The Tudor line ruled from 1485 to 1603 and the Stuart line began in 1603 and eventually ended in in 1714.
King Henry VIII ruled from 1509 t0 1547. This is before Shakespeare was born, but Henry VIII had several children that went on to be rulers, including Queen Elizabeth. King Henry VIII is know for having 6 wives. He also is famous for breaking with the Catholic Church and starting the Chiurch of England. He broke with the church after the pope reufsed to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII would eventually produce 3 future monarchs.
Queen Mary I
Queen Mary I ruled for only 5 years shortly before the birth of Shakespeare. She was the daughter of King Henry VII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. She was queen from 1553 to 1558. She restored England back to Roman Catholicism during her reign. During this religious change she had over 300 Protestants executed, earning her the nickname ''Bloody Mary''
Queen Mary did not leave any heirs, so the throne went to her half sister Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth was the ruler of the monarchy for most of Shakespeare's life. She took the throne in 1558 and ruled until 1603. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, his second wife. Like her father Elizabeth was a Protestant. She supported the establishment of an English Protestant church. In 1588 her army defeated the Spanish Armada, which averted a possible invasion of England. Queen Elizabeth is also know as ''The Virgin Queen'' because she never married or had a child. She would only use the topic of her marriage as a ploy and treated it as an aspect of foreign policy. For a while she did seriously consider Fracois, Duke of Anjou as a possible suitor. She even wore an earring he had sent her. When she kept refusing to marry, Parliament wanted her to name her successor. She refused to name an heir for many years though. Eventually she agreed to an heir, James VI of Scotland. Throughout her reign Elizabeth was a supporter of the arts and enjoyed going to the theater. She also loved to ride horses and often went hunting. She died in 1603.
King James I was the other ruler of Shakespeare's life. He became King when he was named Queen Elizabeth's heir. He was originally the king of Scotland until he was named heir. When he ascended the throne Scotland and England were united and became one. King James continued the Golden age of Elizabethan literature and drama. It was under his reign that the King James Version of the Bible was created. It is still widely used today. King James rule was largely peaceful up to his death in 1625.
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