The year is 1509. King Henry VIII begins a forty year reign over
England. For more than ten centuries, England had been aligned
with the Catholic Church. But Henry VIII would change this, beginning
a state of civil unrest which would challenge the reign of several
monarchs to follow.
Desperate for a male heir to succeed his throne, Henry sought
divorce from his first wife of twenty years, Catherine of Aragon,
who had given birth to only a girl, Mary Tudor. When the Pope
refused Henry's plea for annulment, he spitefully withdrew England
from the Catholic Church and established the Church of England.
Henry's quest for a male heir continued with Anne Boleyn, who
was pregnant prior to their marriage. But, she only gave Henry
a second daughter, Elizabeth Tudor. In fact, it wasn't until 1537
that Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, finally gave him that longed-for
son, Edward VI.
Ten years later, Edward VI did indeed succeed his father on the
throne. And while he upheld his father's mandate for separation
from the Catholic Church, he died at a very young age. Next in
line was Henry's first born, Mary Tudor. But, Mary was a devout
Catholic and returned England to Catholicism through the bloody
persecution of Protestants, further dividing England. So resolved
to honor the Catholic Church was Queen Mary that she imprisoned
her half-sister Elizabeth in the Tower of London for suspicion
of Protestant complicency. This is where Elizabeth's story begins.
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