Let’s Talk History Part 12: 1st American Colony Depends on Who You Ask


Elizabeth Tudor ascends the thrones of England and Ireland as Queen Elizabeth I, restoring Protestantism.

In interest of achieving greater peace and balance between the Catholic and Protestant faiths, the Elizabethan Religious Settlement is passed in two acts in 1559: the 1558/1559 Act of Supremacy reaffirms the Church of England as independent from Rome and confers upon Elizabeth the title of “Supreme Governor” of the Church of England; the 1559 Act of Uniformity reestablishes the 1552 Edwardian Book of Common Prayer, though with some modifications, including ambiguous wording of the Holy Communion so as to appeal to both Catholics and Protestants; compulsory church attendance is mandated, and punitive measures are instituted for clergyman who do not adhere to the Act and refuse an oath acknowledging Elizabeth as “Supreme Governor”.

Perceived as an illegitimate heir to the throne (as the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII), the Northern Rebellion of 1569 and the 1571 Ridolfi and 1586 Babington Plots to overthrow Elizabeth in favor of her Catholic cousin Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, are finally suppressed upon Elizabeth’s order of execution for Mary in 1587.

In 1570, following suppression of the Northern Rebellion, Pope Pius V issues a papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth and absolving her Catholic subjects from allegiance to her as well as her laws.

In 1600, Elizabeth grants a royal charter to the East India Company, a group of London merchants trading to the East Indies; the Company, given monopoly privileges on all trade with the East Indies, eventually accounts for half of the world’s trade, particularly in cotton, silk, indigo, saltpeter and spices, and rules the beginnings of the British Empire in India.

During her reign, known as the Elizabethan era, English drama flourishes with playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe; Elizabeth also contends with threats in the Spanish Netherlands, French threats in Scotland, and a Spanish-supported Irish rebellion against English rule in the Nine Years’ War of 1594–1603 (also known as Tyrone’s Rebellion).

Elizabeth dies in 1603; without children or having married, Elizabeth is the last descendant of the Tudor monarchy

The establishment of an English colony on Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina under Elizabeth’s reign will be treated as a (later) separate date in American history. Before we get into that though, stay tuned for the oldest permanent European settlement in the present-day United States under Spain.

See ya next Tuesday! >>>