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The 15 Most Important People in European History

The List:
1 Adolf Hitler
2 Isaac Newton
3 Albert Einstein
4 Queen Elizabeth I
5 Charles Darwin
6 King Henry VIII
7 Leonardo Da Vinci
8 Mahatma Gandhi
9 Otto Von Bismarck
10 Galileo Galilei
11 Winston Churchill
12 Michelangelo
13 William Shakespeare
14 Francis Bacon
15 Pablo Picasso
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No. 4 Queen Elizabeth I

This English Monarch, daughter of Henry VIII (ranked number six) had enormous impact on European History, due to her role in the Reformation, England's entrance to the world stage, and improvements in world culture, especially the works of William Shakespeare.

Elizabeth was born in 1533 to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Within about 30 years she had the throne, succeeded from her half-sister (Bloody) Mary. Her first, and most useful action concerned religion. Unlike her other siblings, Mary (fiercely Catholic) and her brother Edward VI (fiercely Protestant), Elizabeth was not especially religious. In fact, while she was nominally Protestant, she was in reality a Politique-she believed in what worked-and religious stability worked. She essentially gave most Christians the right of freedom of religion, and with the exception of her advisors, the right to worship where they pleased. This moderate behavior allowed for English Religion to exist without the large-scale violence that plagued other European Countries.

But Elizabeth also prospered militarily. At that time, England was essentially against the world, with enemies in Scotland, Spain and France. In 1572, Elizabeth sent troops for the first time to the Continent to aid French Protestants struggling against the Catholic ruled state. She also sent supplies, mostly cash, to other Protestant nations, specifically the states of the Netherlands, to aid them in becoming Independent from the controls of the Holy Roman Empire. However her largest Military victory came in 1588, when troops under her command defeated the infamous Spanish Armada, over a hundred ships sent by Spain's King Phillip II to invade English Soil. They did not succeed.

Elizabeth's significance rests on three factors. The first factor involves the direct impact on people's everyday lives. Here the answer is obvious. Elizabeth managed to prevent an invasion of British soil by Spanish efforts. I imagine that the everyday life of British citizens would be rather different if the Spanish Crown controlled them. Language and culture would be vastly different, the political development of England would probably be more totalitarian, rather than based on individual rights-the way England is today. If Elizabeth had not been queen, the religion in England could have been different as well. Elizabeth established the tradition for religious moderation and choice that England has today. If she had not been queen, it might well have been different.

The second factor involves the impact on countries in general. Here, we must consider what Elizabeth did. Elizabeth preserved England as we know it, allowing for political distinction of this country. If Spain had managed to invade, than England may not have existed. Elizabeth also took efforts to make sure that England was a trade powerhouse. Before, England really did not have many connections in the New World. After, England was on the stage to having territories across the globe, all due to the efforts of this Queen.

The final factor that must be considered involves the impact on long-term movements. Here, the true test of greatness is that many movements that could have been developed were not. There were no religious movements that threatened individual liberty. There were no purges, there were no invasions. This factor allowed for the long term stability of the British Isles, and can help explain why Britain has never had a significant rebellion, with the exception of the British Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, since.

Birth: September 7, 1553 in Greenwich Palace
Nickname: The Virgin Queen
Education: Educated privately by Queen Dowager Katherine.
Occupation: Queen of England
Religious Affiliation: Anglican
Marriage: Never married.
Children: None.
Political Affiliation: None.
Writings: None Significant.
Died: March 24, 1603 in London (Richmond Palace).
Buried: Westminster Abbey

Links for Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I (1533-1603) - http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/eliza.htm
Queen Elizabeth I - http://www.elizabethi.org/
Official Web Site of the British Monarchy - http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page1.asp