The Elizabethan Period
Elizabeth was destined to become one of the most popular queens of England, and the period of her reign was called “Elizabethan” after her. It coincided with the Golden Age in English literature. The Queen never married. Her closet heir, in the event of her death, was Mary Stuart, the Roman Catholic Queen of Scotland. Mary was the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s elder sister Margaret; she married the Dauplin, heir to the french throne, but after his death had returned to Scotland. For a few years she was favourably recognized as Elizabeth’s legitimate successor, and when her son was born, her chances appeared consolidated. But Mary was involved in a series of intrigues which led to warfare, untile she escaped to England. Here, she was kept as a prisoner for nearly twenty years and finally executed in 1587.
The discovery of America in 1492 had shifted the centre of interest to the west, and England received great advantage from its geographical position. The English skilfully exploited this fact of Spain. Riches were brought home from voyages, and many went to explore new territories in the hope of finding gold. The beginning of colonization in the New Continent and commercial expansion to various parts of the world contributed to the consolidation of the maritime power of England, which was destined to develop so successfully over the following centuries.
Merchants founded trading companies which received the royal charter and were called “chartered companies”. They had the exclusive right tot rade in a particular geographical area, or in a specific commodity, and part of their profits went to the Crown. English ships began to visit the Baltic (Eastland company), Morocco and the Levant Company trade in the Mediterranean and the Levant was revived. The East India Company starter trade contacts with India, Persia and Japan. In this way industrial development was encouraged while England’s sea power increased.