About the Show
David Starkey tells the extraordinary story of Queen Elizabeth I, whose reign transformed England into a global power
Series 1 Summary
In 1588, Elizabeth Tudor was crowned Queen of England.
England was a fifth-rate nation at the start of her reign, but by the end of Elizabeth I's tumultuous 45 years of rule English forces had defeated the Spanish Armada and sailed around the globe.
Elizabethan military power was matched only by a remarkable flourishing of English literature: it was the age of Shakespeare's plays and Spenser's poems.
David Starkey tells the extraordinary story of Elizabeth I.
In this first episode David Starkey examines Elizabeth I's life before her coronation. If her reign was full of glorious victories, her earlier life was a perilous journey.
Her father would kill her mother and Elizabeth would be disinherited, sexually abused and imprisoned at the Tower under threat of execution.
David Starkey explores the tensions created by Elizabeth I's reluctance to marry, which strained the political and religious machinations of her reign.
The self-styled 'Virgin Queen' - devoted only to her country - signified a new era of unorthodox behaviour on the throne.
Though her dalliances with potential suitors such as Lord Dudley provoked much speculation, it was her refusal to choose a spouse from France or Spain - powers that were a threat to the then slight nation of England - that worried the Queen's advisors.
The programme also measures the threat presented by Elizabeth's cousin, Mary Queen of Scots.
In July 1588 beacons were lit across England to warn of the arrival of the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth I's darkest fears had come true.
Having successfully avoided open war for 20 years, she found herself bound up in a costly and desperately unpredictable conflict.
Elizabeth also loathed war because, as a woman, she couldn't lead her own armies. Instead she had to delegate command to hot-tempered men, who disobeyed her orders and even turned her own forces against her.
Despite the difficulties, it was war which provided Elizabeth with her finest hour.
After the Armada was defeated Elizabeth I ushered in a golden age in English society. With a flourishing of literature, an age of prosperity and a sense that England was at last a nation to be reckoned with in Europe, national pride was at an all-time high.
Elizabeth was hailed as Gloriana: almost a goddess in the eyes of her subjects. Unfortunately the goddess was getting old.
David Starkey tells the extraordinary story of Queen Elizabeth I, whose reign transformed England into a global powerEpisode Guide >