Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called "The Virgin Queen", "Gloriana" or "Good Queen Bess", Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. The daughter of Henry VIII, she was born into the royal succession, but her mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed two and a half years after her birth, with Anne's marriage to Henry VIII being annulled, and Elizabeth hence declared illegitimate. Her half-brother, Edward VI, ruled as king until his death in 1553, whereupon he bequeathed the crown to Lady Jane Grey, cutting his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, out of the succession in spite of statute law to the contrary. His will was set aside, Mary became queen, and Lady Jane Grey was executed. In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.Elizabeth set out to rule by good counsel, and she depended heavily on a group of trusted advisers led by William Cecil, Baron Burghley. One of her first moves as queen was the establishment of an English Protestant church, of which she became the Supreme Governor. This Elizabethan Religious Settlement later evolved into today's Church of England. It was expected that Elizabeth would marry and produce an heir so as to continue the Tudor line. She never did, however, despite numerous courtships. As she grew older, Elizabeth became famous for her virginity, and a cult grew up around her which was celebrated in the portraits, pageants, and literature of the day.In government, Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been. One of her mottoes was "video et taceo" ("I see, and say nothing"). In religion she was relatively tolerant, avoiding systematic persecution. After 1570, when the pope declared her illegitimate and released her subjects from obedience to her, several conspiracies threatened her life. All plots were defeated, however, with the help of her ministers' secret service. Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, moving between the major powers of France and Spain. She only half-heartedly supported a number of ineffective, poorly resourced military campaigns in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland. In the mid-1580s, war with Spain could no longer be avoided, and when Spain finally decided to attempt to conquer England in 1588, the failure of the Spanish Armada associated her with one of the greatest military victories in English history.Elizabeth's reign is known as the Elizabethan era, famous above all for the flourishing of English drama, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and for the seafaring prowess of English adventurers such as Francis Drake. Some historians are more reserved in their assessment. They depict Elizabeth as a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler, who enjoyed more than her share of luck. Towards the end of her reign, a series of economic and military problems weakened her popularity. Elizabeth is acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor, in an age when government was ramshackle and limited and when monarchs in neighbouring countries faced internal problems that jeopardised their thrones. Such was the case with Elizabeth's rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, whom she imprisoned in 1568 and eventually had executed in 1587. After the short reigns of Elizabeth's half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.
Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later assumed the Kingship, of Ireland, and continued the nominal claim by English monarchs to the Kingdom of France. Henry was the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, succeeding his father, Henry VII.Besides his six marriages, Henry VIII is known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. Henry's struggles with Rome led to the separation of the Church of England from papal authority, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and his own establishment as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Yet he remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings, even after his excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church. Henry oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542.In 1513, Henry allied with the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I, and invaded France with a large, well-equipped army, but achieved little at a considerable financial cost. Maximillian, for his part, used the English invasion to his own end, and this prejudiced England's ability to defeat the French. This foray would prove the start of an obsession for Henry, who invaded again in 1544. This time, Henry's forces captured the important city of Boulogne, but again the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, supported Henry only as long as he needed to and England, strained by the enormous cost of the war, ransomed the city back for peace.His contemporaries considered Henry in his prime to be an attractive, educated and accomplished king, and he has been described as "one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne". Besides ruling with considerable power, he also engaged himself as an author and composer. His desire to provide England with a male heir – which stemmed partly from personal vanity and partly because he believed a daughter would be unable to consolidate the Tudor dynasty and the fragile peace that existed following the Wars of the Roses – led to the two things for which Henry is most remembered: his six marriages and the English Reformation. Henry became morbidly obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547. He is frequently characterised in his later life as a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king. He was succeeded by his son Edward VI.