Sedition and Succession
 Mary Stuart and Norfolk | The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots | The Essex Rebellion
 The Succession Question

Because Elizabeth did not have a child of her own to succeed her, ambitious nobles challenged her throughout her reign. The conspiracies of the Duke of Norfolk, Mary Queen of Scots, and the Earl of Essex were three major crises that arose from the same question: who would follow Elizabeth on the throne?

Elizabeth's most important rival was Mary Queen of Scots. Mary had reigned over Scotland since she was one week old. In contrast to the unmarried Elizabeth, Mary had made a bad choice of a husband, involved herself in his murder, married the murderer, and alienated her people. In 1568, Mary fled to England. As a Catholic, a queen, an ally of the French, and a first cousin of Elizabeth, her presence in England was bound to incite rebellious plots among those who were unhappy with Elizabeth's regime.

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