Philip II was the most powerful monarch in sixteenth-century Europe, heir to the Hapsburgs and zealous defender of world Catholicism. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII, who had torn England away from the Church to marry her mother, Anne Boleyn. She was the champion of the Protestant reformed church and determined to thwart Philip's ambition to bring England back to the Roman fold. Philip had briefly been king consort of England while married to Elizabeth's older half sister, Bloody Mary, who burned over 300 Protestants to death and threatened to execute her younger half sister and heiress. Ironically, it was Philip who convinced her to spare Elizabeth's life. After Mary's untimely death, he proposed marriage to his former sister-in-law hoping to build a permanent alliance. She repaid him by a lifetime of hostility that included devastating raids on his treasure ships from the New World by her legendary naval hero, Sir Frances Drake, and culminated in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, one of the defining moments of British history. The title comes from her speech on the eve of that battle.
Benton Rain Patterson is a former newspaper and magazine writer and editor. He has worked for "The New York Times" and the "Saturday Evening Post."He is the author of "Harold and William: The Battle for England, 1064-1066"; "Washington and Cornwallis: The Battle for America, 1775-1783"; and "The Generals: Andrew Jackson, Sir Edward Pakenham, and the Road to the Battle of New Orleans."