William Shakespeare lived during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, formerly James IV of Scotland. Shakespeare was born approximately eight years after Elizabeth I was pronounced Queen of England and died 13 years into King James'.
Following the 20 years of extreme persecution by Elizabeth's older sister Mary I, which earned her the nickname "Bloody Mary," Mary died, and Elizabeth I took the throne. She re-instituted the Church of England as the official religion, garnering popularity with the masses.
In 1568, Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate the Scottish crown to her son James IV and fled to England. Until she was beheaded in 1587, Mary Queen of Scots made numerous attempts at rebellion and the overthrow of Elizabeth. Elizabeth I, known as the "Virgin Queen," had no direct heirs. Upon her death in 1603, Scotland's James IV, her cousin was given the crown, taking the name James I of England.