To divorce his first wife and remarry, King Henry VIII broke England from the Roman Catholic Church, transforming the country from Catholicism to Protestantism. Not all English subjects willingly accepted the new religion, and faithful Catholics plotted to return the country to the ‘one true religion.’
Henry’s catholic daughter and successor, (Bloody) Queen Mary, attempts to restore England to Catholicism, resulting in violent civil wars. Childless, Mary considers her protestant half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, who is next in line to the throne, as a threat to her religious mission and her crown. Young Elizabeth is kept under house arrest and lives under constant treasonous accusations and threat of execution.
When Mary dies without an heir, Elizabeth is crowned queen, and she declares England protestant. Although Elizabeth is religiously tolerant and strives for peaceful co-existence between Catholics and Protestants, plots and conspiracies abound as her enemies secretly conspire to usurp her throne and return England to Catholicism.
Norfolk: To the North, I present Elizabeth, your undoubted Queen.
Trivia: The film rolls two conspiracies against Elizabeth into one. The first was the Ridolfi plot of 1571, in which the Duke of Norfolk was executed and Arundel arrested. The second culminated in 1586 when a priest named John Ballard was sent by the Pope to coordinate an English Catholic rebellion that would clear the way for an Italian invasion. As far as we know, Sussex and Dudley were not involved in any treachery as alleged in the film. Importantly, the film makes scarce mention of Elizabeth's cousin Mary, Queen of Scots (as a Catholic it was she who the rebels wished on the English throne and she played a central role in all the conspiracies).
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