By the time of her death, Elizabeth had become a legend and over the centuries, instead of that legend decreasing, her legend has grown. She has become one of the most talked about monarchs of England and I like to think her father would have been very proud of her.
During her last years, conflicts with Spain and Ireland continued, the tax burden grew heavier and the economy was hit by poor harvests as well as the cost of the war against Spain. Prices rose and the standard of living fell. And Catholicism strengthened. But during it all, Elizabeth never forgot her people. She gave her country everything she was never able to give to a man and England responded with a loyalty that amounted to love, despite knowing she could be vain, arrogant, spiteful and frequently unjust. But England never seemed to mind. They knew she was also brave and fierce during war and amazingly clever.
So much happened in Elizabeth's life, it is difficult to pick a time to talk about. Her life was troubled from the moment she was born. Despite the challenges of being Henry VIII's daughter, or perhaps because of it, she was a quiet studious girl, living in the shadow of her father. When he died, everything changed. By the time she was 13, she'd lost her father and her mother and her 9-year-old half-brother Edward was about to be crowned king. A few years later, he would die as well. To top it off, she had an elder half-sister who was cold, sometimes erratic, and who scared the life out of her most of the time. Scotland was always a danger, as well as Spain and France.
When her sister Mary Tudor died, Mary Queen of Scots was watching England with mounting interest. In those brutal and uncertain days, we can only assume she was waiting for the right moment to step forward and stake her claim. As Elizabeth took the throne of England, the eyes of Europe were watching and waiting. Everyone knew that Mary Queen of Scots had a far better right to the throne than Elizabeth.
The important question was, could Elizabeth hold on to it.