Many great men wrote poetry, drama was also famous. William Shakespeare's plays were written in the years of her reign and are a guide to the life of the period. They not only show to us how men in those times looked, talked and behaved but how they thought and felt. to different lands. They tried to find a quick way to India round the north of Russia. England wanted to trade peacefully with other countries and to find empty lands where it could plant her own colonies.
In those years the first Englishman sailed round the world.
Elizabeth I came to throne in 1558. She had many of her father's, Henry VII, qualities including common sense and strength of character. Like him, she understood people. She loved hunting and dancing. She travelled a lot round the country. She wanted to know her people and to be known by them. Her soldiers and sailors admired her courage. She could speak Latin, Greek and several modern languages. She enjoyed a joke.
During her reign Queen Elizabeth solved her first problem, the Church. The Anglican Church under Elizabeth followed a middle course. Most people in Britain wanted what her father, Henry VIII, had given them: a reformed Catholic Church that used the English language and was free from foreign influence. And they got what they wanted.
Elizabeth's next problem was to keep her enemies quiet until her country was strong enough to defend itself. The greatest danger came from Spain. In July 1588 the Spanish Armada of one hundred and thirty Spanish ships arrived in the Channel. The English ships were faster than the slow Armada. The English guns could shoot farther. After the battle less than half of the proud Armada came back to its home ports. This defeat of Spain was very important for England. During Queen Elizabeth's reign England sent its explorers.