Queen Elizabeth I (1533 to 1603) was the queen of England from 1558 until her death in 1603. She was the only child of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and was preceded as English monarch by her older half-sister Mary I (Bloody Mary). Mary's strict Catholicism caused the relationship to be strained, and for a while during Mary's reign Elizabeth was locked up. She was released, however, and named by Mary as her successor before Mary's early death. Elizabeth remained unmarried throughout her life and therefore produced no heirs. Queen Elizabeth I chose her cousin James VI of Scotland (James I of England) to succeed her, which was somewhat ironic since she put his mother Mary Queen of Scots to death in 1586.
In 1558 Queen Elizabeth I took the throne and became one of many noteworthy monarchs of England. After almost forty five years of ruling she died in 1603, the ruler of one of the most powerful and influencial nations of that age. Queen Elizabeth I was able to skilfully manage and keep peace between the Parliament and deal with the religious tension still present in England between Catholics and the still relatively new Anglican Protestanism. In 1588 she also triumphed over the massive Spanish Armada that made an effort to invade England, a victory that was in large part due to her famous admirals, Sir Walter Raleigh and Charles Howard. At that time Spain was the most powerful nation in Europe. The loss of the Spanish Armada was the beginning of a fairly rapid loss of their top nation status. The period of Queen Elizabeth's successful rule is called the Elizabethan Age.
For many centuries England had been considered a European backwater, situated on a remote and cold island. But this very fact now made England powerful. Freed from any European entanglement by repudiating the Pope, England turned its back on mainland Europe and looked to the world, a process started during the reign of Elizabeth I. England prominently joined the Age of Exploration. Over the following 200 years, by sending ships and people across the globe, England founded many countries that are very important today: the USA, Canada, and Australia, to name just three.