Europe and America
 The Armada | Elizabeth and America

Elizabeth tried to maneuver between two great powers, Spain and France, to the advantage of England. As France was gradually weakened by religious civil wars, England came into increasing conflict with Spain. In 1588, England's triumphant military victory over the Spanish Armada assured Elizabeth's historical place as the preeminent leader of her people.

The sixteenth century was also a time of exploration and conquest as European nations sought to expand their realms in Africa, Asia, and especially America. Spanish possessions in America were the targets of daring attacks by Elizabeth's skilled sea captains, among them Sir Francis Drake. In 1585, the English, led by Sir Walter Raleigh, made their first attempt to establish a colony in America, naming it "Virginia" for Elizabeth, their Virgin Queen.

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