The years of Elizabeth's childhood were troubled - fraught with danger and beset with the political and religious plots of those around her. At the age of two her mother, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded by her father, Henry VIII; Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and banished from the royal court. At 21, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London by her sister, Mary. And at 25 she was crowned Queen of England and Ireland, ruling as the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty until her death in 1603. The reign of Elizabeth was characterized by the virgin queen cult that grew up around her fierce independence, by her epic defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, by England's seafaring prowess personified in the figures of Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh and by the great flowering of artistic and literary creativity that was catalyzed in the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe. In this classic biography, Christopher Hibbert paints a compelling and evocative portrait of one of history's most fascinating women, illuminated against a backdrop of the tumultuous, glorious events of the Elizabethan era - England's Golden Age.