English History Timeline 1580-1589

Queen Elizabeth I

This timeline gives a chronological listing of the main events in English history for the years 1580 – 1589

The monarch for this period was Elizabeth I


1580 (26th September)
Francis Drake returned to England having circumnavigated the World.
1581 (during)
An act was passed which made it treason to try to convert people to Catholicism and make them act against Elizabeth. Anyone found guilty would be executed.
1581 (4th April)
Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I.
1582 (during)
Gerald FitzGerald led a revolt against the English who had been ‘planted’ (sent to live in Ireland) to prevent foreign Catholic nations using the country as a base from which to attack England. In retaliation the English pushed the Irish rebels back, slaughtered people, and burned crops and homes which led to the death of around 30,000 Irish men and women.
1583 (during)
Metsys the Younger painted the Siena Sieve Portrait.
1583 (14th August)
Thomas Whitgift was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.
1583 (December)
Throckmorton Plot
This was a plot hatched by Francis Throckmorton, to murder Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. The plot failed after his actions were discovered by Francis Walsingham.
1584 (during)
Bond of Association
This was a document drawn up by Walsingham that meant anyone attempting to take the throne from Elizabeth or make an attempt on her life would be executed.
1584 (4th June)
Sir Walter Raleigh established a colony on Roanoke Island which he named Virginia after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth.
1585 (during)
William Segar painted the Ermine Portrait of Elizabeth. It gained its name from the depiction of an ermine on her left sleeve.
1585 (August)
Treaty of Nonsuch
This was a treaty between England and the Netherlands whereby Elizabeth promised military support to the Dutch against the Spanish.
1585 (after August)
Elizabeth sent troops, led by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to the continent to help Protestants in the Netherlands fighting Philip II. However, she told Dudley not to engage in active fighting because she wanted to try to negotiate a treaty with Spain.
1586 (4th February)
Robert Dudley was appointed Governor of the Netherlands.
1586 (July)
The Babington Plot
Francis Walsingham uncovered a new plot to replace Elizabeth with Mary Queen of Scots. Anthony Babington had sent secret coded letters to Mary Queen of Scots organising her escape from imprisonment and her overthrow of Elizabeth as Queen.
1586 (15th October)
Mary Queen of Scots was put on trial for her part in the Babington Plot. She was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, Elizabeth, who feared reprisals from Europe, did not sign the death warrant.
1587 (8th February)
Elizabeth had finally been persuaded by her ministers to sign the death warrant. They decided to act on it promptly before Elizabeth could change her mind and Mary Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringay Castle. When Elizabeth found out about the execution she was deeply upset and annoyed with her ministers. She claimed that although she had signed the warrant she had told her ministers not to carry it out.
1587 (April)
Sir Francis Drake raided and burnt Spanish ships in the port of Cadiz that were being assembled to make an attack on England. The attack is often referred to as the singeing of the King of Spain’s beard.
1587 (December)
Robert Dudley resigned as commander of English troops in the Netherlands. He was annoyed with Elizabeth’s policy of duplicity and also her failure to adequately provide for the troops in terms of supplies and food.
1588 (12th July)
Spanish Armada
Philip of Spain’s Armada of ships set sail for England. The aim was to mount an invasion of England after pickinig up Spanish troops in the Netherlands.
1588 (29th July)
Spanish Armada
The English sent fireships to attack the Spanish ships at Gravelines. Those ships that survived the attack fled to the North Sea where many were further damaged by a storm.
1588 (8th August)
Spanish Armada
Elizabeth, unaware that the Armada had been defeated, inspected troops at Tilbury. She wore a silver armoured breastplate over her dress. Her famous speech includes the words “I now I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”
1588 (late)
The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth was painted by George Gower or an unknown artist.
1589 (during)
Elizabeth sent an ‘English Armada’ of around 150 ships and 23000 men led by Sir Francis Drake, to Spain. They were decisively defeated by the Spanish.
1589 (during)
Christopher Marlowe published The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.
1589 (August)
Elizabeth sent English troops under the command of Lord Willoughby to support Protestant Henry IV against Catholic opposition.
1589 (December)
Lord Willoughby, Commander of troops in France, was not effective and more than half his force were killed.


Published Jun 25, 2018 @ 12:57 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2020). English History 1580 – 1589. https://www.thetimelinegeek.com/english-history-1580-1589. Last accessed [date]

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