The Virgin Queen Takes the Reins of England *
The Elizabethan Era begins as Queen "Bloody Mary" of England drops dead during an influenza epidemic at the age of 42. Her half sister, Queen Elizabeth the 1st takes the throne at age 25. Mary's husband, Philip the 2nd, King of Spain, will attempt to marry Elizabeth but she will rebuff him. Her reign will last for 45 years... long enough for Philip to send the entire Spanish Armada after her, but that is in the future. For now she will use her marriageable status as a political tool, which is how it is meant to be used at this time. Though she is crowned by a Catholic bishop, one of her first acts as Queen is to firmly establish the Protestant church in England which will eventually be called the Church of England. However, it's going to take a long time for England as we imagine it today to firm up.    
The Livonian War and Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible is the 1st Czar of Russia and he is prone to severe bouts of mental illness. There is nothing unusual about his actions now, though. Several years before, he had warned Livonia (which is present day Estonia and Latvia) not to enter into any military agreements with Poland-Lithuania, but they did so anyway. They broke the truce with Ivan the Terrible and "terrible" is what is coming at them now. The Livonian War will last until 1583... shortly before Ivan dies of a stroke. The Russians are going to lose this one but not before a lot of fighting gets done.
The University of Jena is Established
Jena is located in Germany in the province of Thuringia. The University will become one of the ten oldest in modern day Germany. Jena is a small town dying from the declining wine industry in the midst of the Little Ice Age. The University is a welcome opportunity for alternative income for the town. Jena will become a center for printing books on behalf of the University as well as other enterprises centered on the support of the University. During the 30 Years' War, the area will fall into chaos but for now all is well.  
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1558, Wikipedia.
- * The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
- Elizabethan era - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history.”
- Elizabeth I of England - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, the childless Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.”
- Mary I of England: Death - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “Mary was weak and ill from May 1558, and died aged 42 at St. James's Palace during an influenza epidemic that also claimed the life of Reginald Pole later the same day, 17 November 1558. She was in pain, possibly from ovarian cysts or uterine cancer.”
- Edward, the Black Prince: Marriage - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “Edward married his cousin, Joan, Countess of Kent (1328-1385), on 10 October 1361.”
- Life in Elizabethan England: A Compendium of Common Knowledge 1558-1603 (2010). “Your parents and friends are better equipped than you are to look out for your best interests, being mature and experienced in the world. Let them negotiate and recommend and you're much more likely to be happy in marriage.”
- Livonian Wars. conflicts.rem33.com (2011). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “The ruin of Livonia in the late 1500's was due to a barter of control for the six countries involved in The Livonian Wars (Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden). Livonia was unstable with ongoing tension between the Order of Livonian Knights and the church. The surrounding countries used this to their advantage, because Livonia was an important middle party for trade to them. Although the countries were considered as the players, the rulers of those countries became the stars of the wars. Their petty disputes were the destruction of a land that was vulnerable and trying to figure out how to continue”
- Livonian or First Northern War, 1558-1583. HistoryofWar.org (24 July 2007). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “The relationship between Livonian and the Russia of Ivan IV had been tense for some years. The final break came in 1558. In the previous year Albrecht von Hohenzollern had attempted to appoint a political ally to a key position in the Archbishopric of Riga. The Livonians believed that Albrecht was attempting to impose Protestantism, and arrested him and his appointee. Sigismund Augustus, king of Poland-Lithuania, was forced to respond to protect his vassal. In September 1557 in the Treaty of Pozwol Sigismund forced the Livonians to release their prisoners and accept his protection. Ivan IV saw this move as provocation.”
- Livonian War. Gale Encyclopedia of Russian History (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “It is most likely that Ivan IV started the war with no strategic plan in mind: He just wanted to punish the Livonians and force them to pay the contribution and fulfil all the conditions of the previous treaty.”
- University of Jena - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “The university was established in 1558 and is counted among the ten oldest universities in Germany. It is affiliated with 6 Nobel Prize winners, most recently in 2000 when Jena graduate Herbert Kroemer won the Nobel Prize for physics.”
- Jena - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 15 April 2015. “Together with the nearby cities of Erfurt and Weimar, it forms the central metropolitan area of Thuringia”
- 1632. Baen. ISBN 0671578499.