Civilization V Civilopedia Online: Civilizations and Leaders
Civilization V Civilopedia Online
Civilizations and Leaders


1533 - 1603 AD



The Virgin Queen

Good Queen Bess


Leader of England

Game Info:

Sun Never Sets

+2 moves Movement for all naval units. Receives 1 extra Spy.


Elizabeth I was a remarkable woman living in a remarkable age. Beautiful, brilliant, and as tough as nails, she survived and indeed thrived, ruling in an era when most women were little more than chattel.

Early Life

Born to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who her father had executed for failing to give him a male heir, Elizabeth's early life was filled with danger. Growing up an unwanted daughter of an insane father who was destroying England's ties to the Catholic Church and engaging in civil war so that he could legally marry another woman (several other women, as it turned out), Elizabeth had to use all of her wits to survive. Elizabeth received an excellent education at the hands of various tutors, including the great scholars of the day. She was an outstanding student, and could speak five languages fluently.

When King Henry VIII died, the throne passed to his young son, Edward. At fifteen Elizabeth was implicated in a plot to overthrow him. She came close to being executed, surviving only because she was able to convince her skeptical interrogators that she knew nothing of the plot.

When King Edward died in 1553, Elizabeth's older sister Mary assumed the throne. An ardent Catholic, Mary was quite unpopular with a number of Protestant noblemen, who attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow her in 1554. Once again Elizabeth was implicated, but once again she talked her way out of execution. Queen Mary died in 1558, and at last Elizabeth became Queen.

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth was an extraordinary ruler. She established the Protestant Church as the official Church of England. However, she attempted to stem the persecution of Catholics in the country - at least as much as was possible when the Catholic nobility were actively plotting her demise. She also restored the debased currency of England, a step crucially necessary to restore the nation's flagging finances.

Elizabeth used all of the tools available to her to achieve her goals. She carefully crafted an image for herself as the "Virgin Queen," greatly increasing her popular support. She received countless offers of marriage from nobility and indeed from kings across Europe. But she accepted none of them, instead using her unmarried state to control her friends and foes alike; if one faction got too strong, she could drive them back into line by suggesting that she was considering marrying someone from an opposing faction.

Patron of the Arts

Elizabeth was a great patron of the arts, particularly music and literature. She made England a center of culture, where great artists like William Shakespeare flourished. During her reign the first English playhouse was built, followed shortly by others including Shakespeare's Globe. And in 1574 weekday performances were made legal. An admirer of poetry, Elizabeth wrote a number of noteworthy poems herself.

Foreign Relations

Militarily, Catholic Spain was England's greatest threat. Spain was the great continental power of the day, and its leader, King Philip, had upon more than one occasion expressed the intent of invading England. In 1588 he tried, building a huge armada to conquer the upstart nation. Elizabeth quickly organized the country's navy to fend off the fleet, and by a combination of superior tactics, ship design, and some foul weather at just the right moment, they defeated the Spanish foe. England was not to be seriously threatened with invasion for about 400 years.

During Elizabeth's reign England, France, Spain and the Dutch all set up colonies in the New World. Elizabeth employed a large number of privateers to attack foreign ships and colonies, as did most other nations. Spain and its New World wealth remained the privateers' favorite targets.

Overall, with the exception of her lucky triumph over the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth was not a successful war leader. She oversaw various half-baked military incursions into Ireland, France and the Netherlands, none of which redounded to her credit.

Judgment of History

Elizabeth died in 1603, having ruled 45 years. Although in her later years military and economic reversals had dimmed her luster to the point that many in England were relieved that she finally passed on, history acknowledges that she left her country in a much better state than when she came to power. Her great skills were an unerring survival instinct and flair for self-promotion, personal charisma, and toughness matching that of the strongest rulers in history. No better words can serve to describe her than her own: "I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king."