Mary Tudor was the daughter of Henry VIII by Catherine of Aragon, and so Elizabeth I’s half-sister. Mary ruled as Queen of England before Elizabeth, briefly returning the country to the Catholic faith before Elizabeth restored Protestantism again. Mary’s reign was one of violence and persecution of Protestants, for which she earned the nickname ‘Bloody Mary.’ Her husband King Philip II of Spain became King of England when Mary ascended the throne. The terms of Philip and Mary’s marriage in 1554 stated that both would sign official documents and Acts of Parliament, coins would bear both their images, and Parliament would be called under their joint authority. In other words, Philip would co-reign with Mary. When Mary died, however, Philip lost his rights to the throne.
At first Philip attempted to gain power again by marrying Elizabeth, but his offer of marriage was refused. He then turned to plots to put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic queen, on the throne. Eventually, with England allied with the Protestant Netherlands and English ships carrying out a policy of piracy against Spanish trade and treasure ships, Philip saw Elizabeth as too great a threat. He assembled an armada of ships (followed by another two armadas) to attack England, but all his efforts failed.