Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland

1533 – 1603

Elizabeth I realized early on that power was a tricky thing to hold on to. At age 3 her father Henry VIII had her mother Anne Boleyn executed, an early lesson in the pitfalls of marriage. She safeguarded her role as sole sovereign of England and Ireland by never marrying. The country flourished under her rule both culturally and politically. The English defeat of the Spanish Armada is one of the greatest military victories in history.