Elizabeth I & Her Enemies

  • From her first breath, Elizabeth I had enemies. She fought hard for her crown and even harder to keep it, as Catholics, Protestants, foreign powers and scheming nobles sought to topple her. She spent much of her life looking over her shoulder for the next assault on her throne. Historians Suzannah Lipscomb and Dan Jones lead us through this heady tale of jealousy, treachery, ambition and tragedy as Lily Cole plays Elizabeth in the key clashes that shaped Britain’s greatest queen.

    Episode 1: Battle for the Throne

    Born in 1533 to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate when her mother was beheaded. Restored to the line of succession with the help of Henry's final wife, Catherine Parr, Elizabeth spent years thwarting the attentions of Catherine's new husband, Thomas Seymour. Later, Elizabeth's sister, Queen Mary, accused Elizabeth of treason in a plot to take the throne.

    Episode 2: The Enemy Within

    Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25, but her reign was far from safe. As a high-profile Protestant monarch surrounded by Catholics in Europe, Elizabeth was pressured to marry and produce a Protestant heir, drawing the ire of her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Episode 3: Death of a Dynasty

    As Europe was being torn apart in a religious war, Elizabeth faced her greatest threat yet: Philip II of Spain, the Catholic king who built the Spanish armada, the most powerful military fleet in the world. After Philip's defeat, Elizabeth was adored by her subjects, but there remained one enemy she was powerless to defy: old age.