TODAY IN HERSTORY

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Queen Elizabeth ascends to the throne of England. On November 17, 1558, Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne of England, succeeding her half-sister Mary. Elizabeth was the first-born child of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife. In 1536, while Elizabeth was 2 years old, her mother was executed due in large part to her inability to bear Henry a son.

Two half-sisters, both daughters of King Henry VIII, had a stormy relationship during Mary's five-year reign. Mary, who was brought up as a Catholic, enacted pro-Catholic legislation and made efforts to restore the pope to supremacy in England. A Protestant rebellion ensued, and Queen Mary imprisoned Elizabeth, a Protestant, in the Tower of London on suspicion of complicity. After Mary's death, Elizabeth survived several Catholic plots against her; though her ascension was greeted with approval by most of England's lords, who were largely Protestant and hoped for greater religious tolerance under a Protestant queen. Under the early guidance of Secretary of State Sir William Cecil, Elizabeth repealed Mary's pro-Catholic legislation, established a permanent Protestant Church of England, and encouraged the Calvinist reformers in Scotland.