The period between 1550 and 1650 in Britain was dominated by Queen Elizabeth the Great, who ruled by herself over an ascendant empire. It was marked not only by a rising pride in the power of the British Isles but also by religious struggles between Catholic and Protestant factions, a struggle that resulted in a Protestant revolution in 1642. Additionally, Elizabeth's single status made political intrigues and plots commonplace.
Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, despite his propensity for trading in wives, had left behind a strong, organized central government. This freed Elizabeth to focus on growing Britain's power, which she frequently did by playing one faction off against another, often using her unmarried status as leverage. In 1588, the Spanish attempted an invasion of England with the goal to destroy Britain's growing maritime power and reclaim the country for Catholicism. The Spanish were soundly defeated both by the British navy and by the unpredictable weather of the English Channel.
When Elizabeth died in 1603, she was succeeded by her nephew James I of Scotland. James cemented Protestantism in England, even funding the English translation of the Bible named after him. His son Charles I, however, found himself increasingly at odds with the Puritans, a religious and political faction that wanted a Protestantism cleansed of all ceremonial trappings. Unfortunately for him, Charles was a clumsy and unrefined politician; his autocratic indulgence in art and courtly trappings plunged England into debt, which the Puritans used as an excuse to push forward their own agenda. At last, Parliament itself revolted against him, leading to a civil war, Puritan rule over Britain and, ultimately, Charles' beheading in 1649.Learn More
Some results of the Protestant Reformation include, the development of national churches, the development of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the division of the single Western religion into two separate religions. The Reformation began in the 16th century.Full Answer >
Guy Fawkes and several other conspirators devised a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament to protest poor treatment and oppression of Catholics under the reign of King James I. The Protestant religion dominated Great Britain In 1603, when King James I assumed the role as king. However, tensions surfaced long before then between Catholics and Protestants; Catholicism, once the dominant religion, suffered denouncement and penalties in the decades preceding the ascension of King James I to the throne.Full Answer >
The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas was an agreement between Spain and Portugal to divide the newly discovered lands of the rest of the world between them. Because Tordesillas only divided the Atlantic region, a second treaty, the 1529 Treaty of Zaragossa, divided the Pacific and Indian Oceans.Full Answer >
While Prince Henry the Navigator never went on any of the expeditions that he chartered, the explorers sailing under his sponsorship ended up discovering a way to navigate down the Atlantic coast of Africa in preparation for rounding the southern tip and heading east to India. His first goal was to find the source of gold in West Africa and the mythical Christian enclave of Prester John, and while he failed in those ends, the fruits of the voyages paved the way for voyages through and around areas that had previously frightened European sailors.Full Answer >