Read the biography of Queen Elizabeth 1 by Anne Somerset.
Elizabeth was one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen. When she came to the throne in 1558 England was a second rate power. By the time she died in 1603 it had become a first rate power, and about her Pope Sixtus 5 said " She is only a woman, mistress of only half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all ".
One of the causes of Elizabeth's success was that she chose very competent and honest advisers who were devoted to her, William Cecil ( who later became Lord Burghley ) and Francis Walsingham. When she appointed Cecil as her Secretary of State and member of her Privy Council, she told him " This judgment I have of you, that you will not be corrupted by any manner of gift, and that you will be faithful to the state, and that without respect of my private will, you will give me that counsel you think best ". As Kautilya has written in Arthashastra, to be successful, a king must have good advisers. One main reason of Emperor Akbar's success was due to his ' nav ratnas '.
Elizabeth was a very shrewd ruler. Her motto was ' Video et taceo ' i.e. ' I see, and say nothing '. When she came to power she was surrounded by enemies, both internal ( especially the Catholics ) and external, such as Spain and France. She tactfully played them against each other, using proposals for marriage as a tool.
Her foreign policy was basically defensive. She often said " I do not like wars. They have uncertain outcomes ". But when war came with Spain, her fleet inflicted a decisive defeat on the Spanish Armada.
Elizabeth was just, but also firm. When Catholics were conspiring to replace her with her Catholic cousin Mary Queen of Scots, she got Mary executed. This was necessary to send a message to conspirators that this will be their fate.
Elizabeth's reign witnessed the great heights of English drama in the plays of Shakespeare and Marlow.