Elizabeth I

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  • Created on: 16-05-17 13:55

Elizabeth I – 1558-1603

Elizabeth ascended the throne on 17th November, 1558. the succession itself was relatively easy – Mary had acknowledged her status as heir before she died, and the treaty with Philip meant that he also accepted her right to rule. However, England had been plagued with bad harvests, there had been a flu epidemic which had raised mortality rates massively. The political and religious situations were delicate at best, and Elizabeth had to cause more chaos by returning to Protestantism – she had no choice. Elizabeth had a view of Government that resembled her fathers – she was fierce and strong willed, she had been taught the art of rhetoric, something usually kept for men, and she regarded all elements of Government as part of her royal prerogative – meaning she insisted on taking the most important decisions by herself, and accepting no opposition to them.

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Elizabeth's Religious Settlement – 1559

 Elizabeth was a Protestant – she had no choice in this matter as she was the symbol of the break with Rome; her father had broken with the Catholic faith in order to marry her mother. As a result of this, Elizabeth was not accepted as legitimate by Catholics, so she had to become Protestant in order to remain on the throne. However, she was aware of the religious turmoil the country had been forced into, and she knew that the vast majority of her people were actually Catholic; 75% of Yorkshire Landowners alone. But she didn't want to create martyrs – she wanted the Church to become suitable for everyone; 'I do not wish to make windows into the souls of men'. This led to her comprised religious settlement of 1559. She appointed Matthew Parker, the Boleyn Chamberlain as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was a Queens man, and she trusted him with matters.

Upon Mary's death, the Church had been reunited with Rome; until this could be changed, the English church would remain under the influence of the Pope, a Catholic practise. This would not be changed until Elizabeth's excommunication in 1570. Her religious settlement came in the form of two acts, injunctions and her  39 Articles.

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The Act of Supremacy.

This act re-established the supremacy of the royals in the church, which had been set up by Henry VIII but removed by Mary; it featured:

•The repeal of heresy laws, re-established by Mary.

•The outline of an Oath of Supremacy to be taken by all members of the clergy, declaring Elizabeth to be Supreme Governor of the Church, and laid down penalties for refusal.

•It gave a large amount of power to commissioners, giving them the right to conduct 'visitations' – visiting parishes and ensuring that there was no heresy going on, but it did not define what would be regarded as heretical, so they could basically make anything up if they wished.

•It gave the Queen the role of 'Supreme Governor' of the church; this was a sop to both sides, as Catholics refused to believe that anybody other than the Pope could be the 'head' of the church, much less a woman! And Protestants believed that nobody was 'head' of the church. So the Queen was officially simply 'Governing' it.

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Act of Uniformity

This act focussed on making the church uniformed; there was a single book of common prayer, which was basically the 1549 Prayer Book with two main modifications;

•The juxtaposition of both the 1549 wording, and the 1552 wording; meaning that the congregation could take whichever they wished; those who were more Catholic could take it to mean transubstantiation, those who were more Protestant could take it to mean consubstantiation. 

•The removal of the Black Rubric, which was added in 1552, to explain away the significance of kneeling at the alter – it stated that kneeling did not mean you were worshipping the Eucharist, so the removal of it meant you could, if you wanted.

•It returned the 'ornaments' of the church to those in place during the second year of Edwards reign – 1551. This meant that the vestments were to be Catholic – which would cause great contention later on.

•Recusant's were to be handed in, and there would be a fine for missing church – 12d a day. 

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The 1559 Injunctions

These were a set of instructions about the conduct of church services and the government of the Church issued in the Queens name as the royal Governor. 

The injunctions were an attack on Catholic practices; they ordered the removal of ornaments and regalia related to religion – it banned the practise of Catholic things, such as pilgrimages and the use of candles. It also said that every parish had to obtain not only a copy of the English Bible – Protestant, but also a copy of Erasmus's work – Erasmus was a Catholic, so this showed that there was a place for Catholicism in Elizabeth's Church settlement.

The Clergy were allowed to marry, but Elizabeth made it exceedingly difficult to do so – the bride to be had to face several interviews to assess their suitability for the role, and permission had to be gained from two JP's and the Bishop of the area before the wedding could take place. This probably reflects Elizabeth's own misgivings about marriage – she knew that she could not really marry, and she became bitter about anybody else doing so as a result.

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The Significance of the Settlement

 The settlement has been at the heart of Historical debate for many years; on the one side we have traditional historians such as Neale, who says Elizabeth was pushed into a more Protestant settlement than she wished by a 'puritan choir' in the House of Commons. He says she wanted it to be much more Catholic thanks to the tricky international situation, but she faced too much opposite and as a result had to back down. However, when we consider the Queens character, the revisionist interpretation becomes more likely; Jones says that there was no such 'puritan choir' in the House of Commons, indeed, there were as few as 25 exiles in the Commons, and only 4 of those could be deemed as 'radical' protestants. 

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The Significance of the Settlement

There were not enough of them to be deemed a problem and they lacked any real leadership; in fact, if any of the houses caused a problem, it would be the House of Lords, which was made up of a large proportion of Catholic Lords and Bishops; they often refused bills, sometimes by as few and two votes. Elizabeth had to remove people from their posts and arrest key Bishops to push her bills through; she tried to pass two in the first year of her reign that simply were not accepted as they were too Protestant. It would appear then, that the Settlement was entirely Elizabeth's, and she defended it until the end of her reign – so fiercely in fact, that it remains the basis of our church today. She regarded the Church as Erastian – another branch of Government and she refused to let anybody else dictate to her what should happen within it – she was strong willed and determined not to be pushed around, simply because she was a woman.

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The Role of Key Personalities

 The reign of Elizabeth cannot be fully comprehended without taking a look at the role of her ministers and the key people in her Government; William Cecil was the most important by a country mile, he served Elizabeth for almost the whole of her reign – dying in 1598. Also of importance, both politically and personally was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester – he was an important military figure, and later a promoter of the Puritan cause.

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The Relationship between Elizabeth and her Ministe

We must remember that Elizabeth was just as determined to rule as she was to reign – as Guy said; 'she controlled her own policy more than any other Tudor monarch' & 'she knew her mind; her instinct to power was infallible'.

Within a month of Mary's death, Cecil was rising to power; he had become, as  the Spanish Ambassador described; 'the man who does everything' – he was joined in the council by close colleagues such as  Bacon and Russell. It was natural that Elizabeth should retain in her first council some of those who had served Mary, although Mary's favourites and close councillors were excluded along with Paget, much to his surprise and disappointment. 

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Concilior Government under Elizabeth

Although the Government of Elizabeth's reign has often been criticised for allowing factional rivalry to dominate, particularly focusing on the arguments between Dudley and Cecil; revisionist historians such as Guy have challenged this view. They argue that the arguments between Cecil and Dudley tend to focus on specific things, such as the Queens marriage, as well as occasional. In fact, the early structure of Elizabeth's Government actually prevented any factions from gaining power; no single minister could control patronage. Most councillors also held significant office in the royal court and most had wives or daughters serving in Elizabeth's household. Guy therefore said 'the keynote of the Elizabethan system was homogeneity' With regards to Cecil and Dudley, whilst they did have disputes and they most certainly didn't like each other; when it came to most matters, according to Alford 'they worked together most of the time with a common purpose', so all in all, they needed each other.

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The Operation of the Privy Council

Since the fall of Cromwell in 1540, the council worked as a team; warrants and letters ect were signed by every member, which meant that there was no chief minister. No single person could wield as much power as Cromwell and Wolesy did, meaning that collective responsibility and corporate decision making existed.

The council had a fixed membership, it could issue proclamations and administrative orders in the name of the monarch, it could even rule by State paper through the issue of letters and warrants signed by the board of the Privy Council collectively. Throughout Elizabeth's reign the role of the Privy Council changed, along with the role of individual councillors; for example, Cecil increasingly saw himself as most of a public servant, or a servant of the State rather than as a personal servant to Elizabeth.

However, it would be silly to constantly view the council as an institution; in fact Elizabeth viewed it more in terms of individual people, and even often went outside of it to seek advice, as a result of this, traditional historians tend to play down the role of the council; emphasising instead individuals within it.

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The Royal Court

It is important to remember that it was not just the Privy Council that allowed opportunities to expand a councillors power; the Royal Court had a lot to offer as well.

The Royal Court existed wherever the Monarch happened to be residing; whether it be at one of her palaces, or at a member of the nobility's during a royal progress. It had two main areas; the Privy Chamber and the Presence Chamber. 

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The Royal Court

The presence chamber was relatively easy access; those with considerable status or power could expect to be granted access, but the Privy Chamber was the more exclusive of the two, although its power was considerably less than in the reign of the Tudor Kings, because the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber were no longer allowed access and the Ladies of the Bedchamber had only minor political influence. So admission to the Privy Chamber was closely guarded.

Haigh has argued that Elizabeth increasingly turned her courtiers such as Dudley into politicians, and her politicians, such as Cecil into courtiers.

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Elizabeth and Parliament

In contrast to other 17th Century Monarchs, Elizabeth rarely called on Parliament – it sat for less than three years in the whole of her 45 year reign; she emphasised the Royal Prerogative of the Monarch, and ruled using other methods.

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The Functions of Parliament

Parliament had three main functions; law making, granting taxes and advising the Monarch.

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Law Making

Altogether, Parliament passed 438 acts during Elizabeth's reign; arguably the most important were the religious acts, such as the act of Supremacy and Act of Uniformity, and the social ones, such as the acts for Poor Relief.

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Granting Taxation

There used to be a real distinction between extraordinary revenue, such as taxation, and ordinary revenue, such as income from crown lands. However, the idea that extraordinary revenue should only be used for desperate times such as war was lost in the reign of Henry VIII – despite her careful economical policy, Elizabeth often had to rely on extraordinary revenue to pay for everyday expenses; the financial reforms she needed were not working. 

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This was seen as the traditional role of MPs, however in practice. Elizabeth became increasingly irritated with MPs who dared venture an opinion in areas that she considered to be her royal prerogative. So it was more useful in terms of communication and contact between the Privy Council and those who administered in the localities on their behalf.

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The Importance of Parliament

Parliament importance was declining throughout Elizabeth's reign, as can be seen in a few tell tale factors:

•It met a lot less than in Henry VIII's reign; Elizabeth regarded it as an occasional and necessary evil.

•Once it had been assembled, MPs mostly fretted about how quickly they could get home – as a result, attendance actually decreased in the later stages of parliamentary sessions

•Elizabeth treated MPs with a thinly veiled contempt, according to Haigh she adopted a tone of 'condescending superiority' towards them. He also said that 'For Elizabeth, parliamentarians were little boys – sometimes unruly, usually a nuisance and always a waste of an intelligent woman’s time'

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Neale stressed the centrality in English history of the House of Commons and draws attention to what he calls a 'Puritan choir'  comprising of around MPs who were determined to use Parliament to push forward Puritanism. However Jones disagreed with the very existence of the 'puritan choir' – arguing that as little as 20 MPs in the House of Commons could be considered 'radicals' and that only 4 of them were exiles – showing that Parliament was not dominated by any one group, and it was not the main platform for those pushing any kind of view – if Elizabeth didn't like what was being discussed, she simply shut down the whole thing.

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A more balanced view is that parliament was occasionally important, when raising revenue, or passing legislation, but generally it was a secondary feature of the Elizabethan political system. It required management by members of the Privy Council and it is the techniques of parliamentary management that best illustrate the details of Elizabethan politics.

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At one time it was thought that the Crown devoted much energy into ensuring that the House was packed with its own supporters – such an interpretation infers that the House was of critical importance, and to support the claim it was pointed out that 62 new boroughs were created during Elizabeth's reign, traditional historians say this is to pack the House with supportive MPs, but the view has been disputed. Revisionist historians claim that the creation of these seats came about thanks to the pressure of the council being 'badgered' by local gentry that wanted the supposed prestige that came with being a member of the House of Commons. These gentry were then able to reward their supporters through their appointment, which is a perfect example of the patronage system put in place by Elizabeth. 

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Cecil played an important role in the deliberations of the Commons; MacCaffrey described him as 'the crowns manager of all parliamentary business' – he prepared the legislative programme, assisted by 'floor managers' such as Hatton. The tone of the parliament was set by Privy Councillors, who outlined the Crowns priorities at the beginning of each Parliament. Basically, Guy said, 'legislative business was properly directed'. 

The Speaker was elected by the Crown and the Council. By convention, a privy councillor nominated a candidate whom the Council had decided upon and was deemed likely to act in the Crowns best interests.

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On the other hand, the Queen could adopt a much less subtle approach, especially when she thought that her royal prerogative was being infringed; she restrained this to just two Parliaments, 1563 and 1566 when the issue of marriage and the succession came up. She also intervened on what can be seen as trivial matters; in 1563 she vetoed a bill passing responsibility for some expenses onto sheriffs, as she deemed royal administration to be an issue of royal prerogative.

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1559 Parliament

Called to settle the issue of religion on Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. The settlement was pushed through thanks to the efforts of Protestant councillors such as Cecil in the face of conservative opposition in the House of Lords

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1563 Parliament + 1556/1557 Parliament

Elizabeth needed money, the MPs wanted to settle the issue of the marriage and succession; Elizabeth regarded this as part of her royal prerogative. In 1563 MPs openly pressed the issue, in 1566 they were more subtle. In 1566 Elizabeth opposed the passage of bills to push further religious reform; see her Religious Settlement

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1571 Parliament

Called to strengthen the treason law, and laws against the Catholics in light of the excommunication in 1570. Elizabeth also wanted a subsidy to pay for the suppression of the Rebellion of the Northern Earls in 1569. Parliament granted the subsidy and supported the tightening of laws. Strickland proposed a reform the Book of Common Prayer, upsetting the Queen and Council. He was removed from attending the Commons by the Council, quite a few of whom hoping to secure more moderate religious changes.

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Jewels 'Apology'

Jewel published his Apology to justify the Church of England by asserting that it was returning to the true position abandoned by the Roman Catholic Church many centuries earlier; he said there was an essential continuity between the early Church and the beliefs of the reformers. He was an exile during the reign of Mary's reign, and was therefore more puritan.

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The Convocation of 1563

The Convocation of 1563

Convocation was the meeting of the two provinces of the English Church; York and Canterbury met at the same time as the 1563 Parliament. Many leaders of the church assumed that this would enable them to complete the reform of the church that they had believed Elizabeth had STARTED in 1559. There is little argument to the fact that at this point, even the moderate Bishops such as Parker assumed further reform would take place. He said these things were required by the Convocation:

•The production of 'a certain form of doctrine to be conceived in articles' supported by the publication of Jewels Apology and a catechism.

•Further reforms to be made to the Book of Common Prayer, in particular the removal of anything 'Popeish'

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The Convocation of 1563

•better Church laws, discipline and education; simplification of clerical dress (Vestiarian controversy)

•Reformation of the finances of the Church to improve the financial situation of the poorer clergymen

Little was done – even the issue of the 39 Articles was not given legal force (not signed by the Queen) until 1571, after excommunication. As a result, the Church was drifting – many leaders wanted a structured and reformed Church, but this was not the view shared by the Queen, she was happy with the 1559 settlement and saw no reason to change it. This lead to the Church of England being Calvinist in it's official doctrine, but 'half reformed' in it's structure. 

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The 39 Articles of Religion

These essentially defined the doctrine of the Church of England. They were largely based on the 42 Articles of Edward's reign, meaning they were Calvinist. They focussed on central issues of reform, such as justification by faith, predestination, they provided an official definition of the role of a bishop and insisted that the Church could not act on the contrary to the meaning of scripture. What it did not do, was state who had the power to define the meaning of scripture, which would prove to be a big problem in the future.

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The Church by 1563

By 1563, the Royal Supremacy had been restored, there was a certain degree of stability within the Church and the Queen had gotten the settlement she wanted – all was well in her eyes. However, there was much mistrust amongst those in the upper clergy in regard to the half reformed nature of the Church and the Catholics, whilst they have witnessed no open persecution for their faith, had witnessed a rapid erosion of the public practice of their faith.

Lake pointed out that there was a difference in views in terms of the settlement; on the one hand, the Queen viewed it as final and complete, on the other hand, her ministers and clergy viewed it as a stepping stone before a full-scale reform could be properly implemented. It was from the second perspective that Puritanism emerged.

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The Church by 1563

By 1563, the Royal Supremacy had been restored, there was a certain degree of stability within the Church and the Queen had gotten the settlement she wanted – all was well in her eyes. However, there was much mistrust amongst those in the upper clergy in regard to the half reformed nature of the Church and the Catholics, whilst they have witnessed no open persecution for their faith, had witnessed a rapid erosion of the public practice of their faith.

Lake pointed out that there was a difference in views in terms of the settlement; on the one hand, the Queen viewed it as final and complete, on the other hand, her ministers and clergy viewed it as a stepping stone before a full-scale reform could be properly implemented. It was from the second perspective that Puritanism emerged.

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The Church by 1563

The tension between these two views led to clergymen who did not like the settlement simply ignoring it; many reformist clergy refused to wear the vestments, they got away with it because the Bishops shared their views and chose not to enforce the settlement.

This caused them to collide with Parker, who was a Queens man and aware of her irritation at this blatant disregard of the rules. She was putting more and more pressure on Parker to impose uniformity  - he issued his advertisements, which detailed the correct dress for the clergy, and called clergymen to a meeting, during which he put on a 'fashion show' of the correct dress – the clergymen were asked if they would support or reject the vestments, and those that rejected it were deprived from their posts -  37 London clergymen alone. These are the clergymen that did not regard such things as 'adiaphora', or of little importance.

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The Church by 1563

The whole business had wider implications:

•It showed the extent the Queen was prepared to go to to enforce her settlement

•It demonstrated the divide even within Protestants; those who were willing to accept things as adiaphora, and those that were not. There was a clear tension between those who were more concerned with adhering to the Royal Supremacy, and those who were more concerned with adhering to what they believed. 

•It showed that the Queen could not impose her authority everywhere; some of those who were fired were protected by nobles or gentry, who ensured they found a place to work elsewhere in the Church.

•Those deprived clergy sought support from the leading Protestant theologians on the Continent; but they refused to support them, as they believed they were putting the reform in England at risk.

The Vestiarian Controversy therefore highlights how a seemingly petty dispute can show the cracks and problems within the Church of England; it shows the divide even between Protestants, and continues to highlight the determination of the Queen in enforcing her royal authority. 

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Catholics and the Settlement

Catholicism remained strong in England for a number of years after Elizabeth's settlement; the last Rood Screen was not removed in Masham until 1598! It was very influential in the North, particularly Durham and Lancashire. 

When she came to the throne, it was by no means clear that she would push ban Catholicism altogether – in fact to most Catholics, she looked weak! She was a woman, she may be married by a Catholic Prince, she may have been forced to change policy by a strong political will in Parliament, she might have died, or even been usurped. In these uncertain circumstances, Haigh said 'most Catholics bent with the times' in the hope that something better might turn up.

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Catholics and the Settlement

During the 1560's, Haigh says 'survivalist Catholicism was diluted by conformity' – most Catholics were Church papists – they simply conformed to whatever policy was on at the time. 

At this time, it was possible for Catholic recusant's to follow their private beliefs without being too concerned of the consequences. This remained until the Bull of Excommunication was issued, which did not increase the number of recusant’s, but increased the Governments desire to find and punish them.

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Elizabeth's attitudes to Catholics

The Queen is often quoted as saying 'I do not wish to make windows into the souls of men' –this suggests she adopted a tolerant attitude to Catholics, an idea supported by her settlement of 1559, which kept a number of Catholic practices – much to the annoyance of her Puritan supporters. But in actual fact, she was tolerant of those who were obedient – in other words, if you showed up to her church, she didn't care what you did at home. She was aware that Catholicism had been strong in England, and she was afraid of upsetting the foreign powerhouses on the continent – France and Spain, which were both Catholic. Elizabeth knew that Catholics would be loyal to their religion, and expended a lot of energy rooting out Catholicism from the local levels – overseeing the removal of Catholic imagery and statues from Churches, banning the traditional Catholic ceremonies and pilgrimages, enforcing the Prayer Book she had devised. 

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Foreign Policy

The traditional view of Foreign Policy is that Walsingham advocated a 'Protestant Policy', whereas Cecil was much more cautious and defensive in general.

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Intervention in Scotland

In June 1559 Henry II of France died and was succeeded by his son Francis II, who was married to Mary, Queen of Scots and a devout Catholic. Mary Queen of Scots was the heir to the English throne and at this point, Queen of Scotland and France, claiming she should be Queen of England. She was to make to the majority of the threat to Elizabeth's throne until the 1580's.

Francis sent troops to garrison Scotland, who were experiencing a Protestant rebellion – Elizabeth does not want to enter into war here, she dislikes the idea of helping any rebels against their monarch, as it would make it okay for a monarch to help rebels against herself. Cecil though, supported the idea of intervening and forced her to help – threatening to resign if she did not. The result was the Treaty of Edinburgh – the French troops withdrew and the Lords of Congregation were accepted as a provisional councillor Government – Francis II died in September, meaning a fall for Mary Queen of Scots, she was no longer Queen of France, and there was no Queen in Scotland, so she was helpless.

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Intervention in France

This was the event that curbed Elizabeth of helping rebels. Dudley encouraged her to intervene in France against the Catholics. Elizabeth hoped for the return of Calais and promised the Huguenots a loan of £30, 000 and 6,000 men. But the Huguenots were defeated and the leaders of both sides were killed. As a result of this leaderlessness, they agreed to accept peace terms and drive the English out of Le Havre, the last port we had. Elizabeth was forced to accept unfavourable peace terms at the Treaty of Troyes in 1564, she was forced to give up her last rights to Calais, which may have proved an advantage in to long term, in terms of cost and benefit of keeping such an expensive place to maintain, it was a great blow to her prestige and from here on, she becomes cautious, possibly too much so.

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The Policy after 1564

The rest of the 1560's was dominated by a reversal of situations; an increase in relations with France, and a decrease in relations with Spain. Elizabeth became excellent at balancing the two powerhouses; every time one became too powerful, she would make some form of marriage alliance with the other, and vice versa. This was another reason she could not marry – she would be allied to one side of the two, which would upset the balance.

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England and France

After Elizabeth fell out with Spain, having put money into privateering which hurt Spanish trade and ships, she drifted towards France, making marriage negotiations with the Duke of Anjou, the heir to the throne. This culminated in the Treaty of Blois, which Guy describes as 'a defensive league' against Spain. It also saw France withdraw their support for Mary Queen of Scots's claim to the English throne.

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England and France

After Elizabeth fell out with Spain, having put money into privateering which hurt Spanish trade and ships, she drifted towards France, making marriage negotiations with the Duke of Anjou, the heir to the throne. This culminated in the Treaty of Blois, which Guy describes as 'a defensive league' against Spain. It also saw France withdraw their support for Mary Queen of Scots's claim to the English throne.

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England and Spain

For most of the 1560's relations were good between Spain and England; Philip believed he could bring Elizabeth into the Catholic fold once more, and twice discouraged the Pope from excommunicating her. But Hawkins, an English trader and inventor of the English slave trade, tried to break the monopoly that Spain held on the trading with the Caribbean. He did so much damage that in 1568 his fleet was attacked in San Juan and only two were able to escape. This led to his retirement from privateering, and instead him reforming the Navy.

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England and Spain

The Netherlands is the deciding factor in Spanish-English relations – it suited English interests that it should remain under loose Spanish control, so it would not be taken over by France, but there were no troops in there, as it was so close to England. We relied on it for trade, and good relations were key to this. However in the 1560's Philip dispatched an Army led by the Duke of Alba to the Netherlands to suppress 'heresy', this put Spanish troops right next to England and made Elizabeth increasingly nervous – Dudley was keen for his time to shine in terms of the military, and thus encouraged Elizabeth intervene and eventually she did, sending Dudley himself. But, to be frank, he titted up. He took the title that should have belonged to Philip and spend lots of money. This ended in the utter defeat of English forces, and a 'sourment' of the 'cosy' relationship they had enjoyed previously. As a result, Philip, whilst not approving of the excommunication in 1571, did not oppose it, and he did encourage the Northern Rebellion in 1569.

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England and Spain

The Netherlands is the deciding factor in Spanish-English relations – it suited English interests that it should remain under loose Spanish control, so it would not be taken over by France, but there were no troops in there, as it was so close to England. We relied on it for trade, and good relations were key to this. However in the 1560's Philip dispatched an Army led by the Duke of Alba to the Netherlands to suppress 'heresy', this put Spanish troops right next to England and made Elizabeth increasingly nervous – Dudley was keen for his time to shine in terms of the military, and thus encouraged Elizabeth intervene and eventually she did, sending Dudley himself. But, to be frank, he titted up. He took the title that should have belonged to Philip and spend lots of money. This ended in the utter defeat of English forces, and a 'sourment' of the 'cosy' relationship they had enjoyed previously. As a result, Philip, whilst not approving of the excommunication in 1571, did not oppose it, and he did encourage the Northern Rebellion in 1569.

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England and Scotland

The relationship with Scotland was intrinsically linked with the issue of the succession, and Mary Queen  of Scots! 

After the death of her husband, Francis II in 1561, which came with her enforced return to Scotland, she lost her immediate threat nature. She was forced to rely on the Protestant Government there, and whilst remaining a staunch Catholic herself, she was smart enough to conform to their religion. However when she married Lord Darnley, the Scottish Council found itself in uncertain waters. However, this threat was again diminished when their marriage fell apart, thanks to rumours and Darnley's vast bastardy nature. It was this scandal that forced Mary to abdicate her Scottish throne, and flee from Scotland itself, seeking shelter in England. Elizabeth's first thoughts were that as a legitimate monarch she should be treated as such, and helped to regain her throne. But her Councillors wanted her dead. This lead to an imprisonment in England for the rest of Mary's life. She was kept in the North, in the middle, and away from sea. She was moved constantly so nobody really knew her current location, and she was kept under close guard.

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England and Scotland

Meanwhile, in Scotland the fight for power continued and Elizabeth was forced to intervene after the Northern Rebels joined in with the supporters of Mary on the border during the Northern Rebellion in 1569. She was forced to send Sussex, who didn't do very well at first, failing to achieve his goals, but eventually adopted a much heavier approach and ended with him blatantly supporting the Protestants and sending troops to Edinburgh, which caused the King of France – Charles IX to threaten with war – this forced Elizabeth to withdraw Sussex. Elizabeth was to intervene twice more, to help James of Scotland against his Catholic enemies within Scotland, this time with more success. She had by now, been in Scotland four times, and wanted to go in none of them. Relations with Scotland would be fraught with tension for 14 more years.

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The Impact of Excommunication – 1570

Pope Pius V issued the bull of excommunication in 1570, this prompted fear in the Government, which led to the release of the Act Against bringing in and Executing Papal Bulls – which made it illegal to have or preach of the Papal Bull. It basically meant that Catholics couldn't say Elizabeth was a heretic, or illegitimate, or a tyrant. If they did, they would be executed. 

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Marriage, the Succession and the Crisis of 1562

Elizabeth's status as an unmarried woman prompted discussions as to who she should marry. But that decision on its own would be controversial; if she was to marry an Englishman, his family would undoubtedly benefit and factions at court would no doubt ensue; he would take the power of the throne from her, and dominate her in politics. She could not marry a Catholic because he would try and enforce a counter-reformation in England, and she could not marry a Protestant, as it would highlight her religion to the powerhouses of the Continent and spark an early Armada. She could not marry a foreigner, as England was Xenophobic, as can be seen in the reaction to Philip, when he married Mary. The religious question remained for a foreigner and should the Queen die in childbirth – she must have a child to fulfil her duty and produce an heir, there would be a minor King for some years, and factions much like those experienced in the reign of Edward would ensue – in short, she was in a bit of a pickle. Not that this stopped Elizabeth from facing considerable pressure to marry.

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The Crisis of 1562

In Autumn 1562, Elizabeth contracted smallpox and for a while, it looked like she would die.

This led to a full on crisis in terms of the succession; none of the possible heirs particularly promoted themselves; Mary Queen of Scots was a Catholic, Catherine Grey was in disgrace, there was little support for nobility with royal connections., so who would succeed? 

The issue did not go away when Elizabeth got better; in the 1563 Parliament the issues of marriage and succession were debated heavily but Elizabeth refused to commit herself to either. Her view was that once she had named a successor nobody would pay attention to her, and it would go to them, so she didn't. The issue didn't go away however, and Elizabeth continued to side step it throughout her reign; she regarded it as her Royal Prerogative, and refused to let anyone push her around.

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The Northern Rebellion

This was the only significant rebellion against Elizabeth throughout her entire reign – something special in itself really, but it was important because it was her own nobility rebelling against her, aided by the ordinary people. It saw the betrayal of noblemen and the implication of Mary Queen of Scots, albeit as a figurehead.

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The Motives of the leaders

•Courtly Conspiracy – The Northern Rebellion saw the leading nobleman – The Duke of Norfolk – become a traitor – he agreed to marry Mary Queen of Scots, and to help put her on the throne.

•Local and Specific factors – Elizabeth had tried to limit the power of the northern Earls – they had always been a problem, and this can be seen in the reigns of Edward IV, Henry VII and Henry VIII, when they had become like little Kings in their constituencies. The Council of the North positions had not gone to those who were expecting it and their financial situations were becoming desperate; Elizabeth's exclusion of them from jobs and offices meant they had no money, and that is most likely key to their rebellion. 

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The Motives of the leaders

        •      Religious Factors – The imposing of Protestantism in the Catholic North was obviously going to be a bone of contention for the residents. The restoration of the Catholic services by the rebels wherever they went highlights the importance of religion – they also carried their banner into Durham Cathedral; the link between the badges of the 1569 rebels, and the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace rebels emphasises this connection.

•Militant Associates – It is true that the Earls probably would have withdrawn from the rebellion had they not been shamed into continuing. This interpretation was shared even by Crown officials, who tended to assume that 'these simple earls' must have been pushed into rebellion by their more militant associates.

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The Motives of the Ordinary Participants

      •       Feudal Loyalties – To some extent, there were feudal loyalties to the ancient houses of Percy and Neville, certainly a lot of people from these areas seem to be involved, but it would be a vast oversimplification to view the motives purely in this respect.

•Religious Motivation – probably the most important motive for the rebels; all those that participated were from staunchly Catholic areas and there is no doubt that discrimination by Protestant clergymen placed in positions in these areas would have angered the people.

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The Course of the Rebellion

Northumberland and Westmorland were key players in the rebellion; Northumberland's forces were initially moving towards Westmorland's forces, and from there the two forces marched on Durham, which they seized and held mass in the Cathedral. From there they moved south, gathering more forces as they went, in November they moved to Knaresborough. From there the majority moved North again, capturing Barnard Castle. By this time the Royal forces were drifting across leisurely, and they prompted the Earls to disband most of their forces. The Earls themselves fled North to Scotland, with Westmorland completing his escape to the Netherlands, but Northumberland remaining in Scotland, eventually being handed back to the English and executed in 1572.

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Why did it fail?

It appears to be the general consensus amongst historians that the rebellion was hopelessly disorganised; at a hint of trouble it just fell apart. Haigh says the one attempt to overthrow Protestantism was 'botched'. This disorganisation was made worse when the Government acted decisively; they moved Mary to a secure location, Leicester raised a royal force in the Midlands, no mean feat when you consider the Catholicism there.

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The significance of the Rebellion and the Elizabet

It showed that Government worked – The Crowns servants acted on the spot, sensibly in difficult and trying circumstances. Cecil in particular spend huge amounts of time on the matter, studying maps to work out the best way to defeat the rebels. However it also shows weak points; the difficulty of raising troops in tough situations; Elizabeth relied on Leicester, who distanced himself from Conservatives and thus limited his own options, it shows Governments lack of comprehension of the differences between the North and the South – Catholic and Protestant, the importance of status ect. It also highlighted the ruthlessness of Elizabeth's Government in punishing those who oppose it; mass execution of the revels were ordered, though it is not clear if the agents actually carried them out.

The fact that there was little support for the rebellion outside of the North does not mean that everywhere else supported the Government, only that they had little idea of the alternatives; what was the point in supporting a rebellion against your Government if there is no other option but your Government? 

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Consequences of the Rebellion

 The main consequence of the rebellion was that the stronghold in the North was broken – the land owned by the rebels, significantly the Percy's and the Neville's were taken from them, and although the Percy's eventually regained a substantial portion of theirs, the Neville's never did. The Crown either kept it or distributed it to those whom they regarded as trustworthy. This meant that the North was now predominantly owned by the Church and the Crown. 

This was reinforced in 1572 when the Council of the North was re-established and Henry Hastings was put in control – Hastings was an outsider with no ties to the area (reminiscent of Henry VII's idea, don't you think?), and he owed his influence entirely to the Queens good favour, meaning he was a Queens man. Moreover, he was an astute Protestant, which may be a disadvantage at court, but in the Catholic North, Catholics were seen as enemies of the state, and his strong commitment to the values of religious reform was seen as an advantage there.

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Crown, Government and Parliament

 By the middle part of her reign Elizabeth was more secure; she had overcome the 1569 rebellion, and by 1572 she was at the height of her powers. There was no certainty that there would be a war with Spain and she had a tight governing team of able ministers.

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The Role of ministers and Factions

Lord Burghley was Cecil. He remained the most influential of Elizabeth's ministers throughout her reign. In 1572 he became Lord Treasurer, which meant he was the coordinator of the Privy Council, manager of Parliament, in charge of supervising the Exchequer and the Court of Wards. He adopted a very prudent attitude to money, which would pay off when it came to pay for wars with Spain.

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The Privy Council

The conservative influence in the Privy Council fell in the 1570's with the deaths of Norfolk and Winchester. This meant that the 'inner ring' of councillors were mostly militant Protestants – such as Mildmay. There were only really 2 mild conservatives, one of which was Sussex.

This change in personnel did not change the effectiveness of the Council though. Guy has asserted that the Council offered coherent decision making, its power can be seen in its adamant refusal to agree to the Queen marrying a French-man, although they did fall out with the Queen bad time with the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587.

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The Problem with the Succession

By 1573 the Queen was 40 – too old to have children. In 1579 Elizabeth opened marriage negotiations with the French Duke of Anjou, she was declared capable of having a child which horrified the people and the Council – if she was to die in childbirth it would leave not only a minor ruler, but a minor ruler under the influence of the French. This was too horrific to bear thinking about and luckily they were saved with a break down of negotiations. However the problem still remained.

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Elizabeth called five sessions of parliament between 1571 + 1587:

•1572 – MPs called for the execution of Norfolk and Mary Queen of Scots. Norfolk was executed, Elizabeth refused to sign anything to do with Mary

•1576 – a recall of the 1572 Parliament, Wentworth was imprisoned for infringement of the Royal Prerogative – talking of marriage and the succession

•1581 – recall of 1572, Anti-Catholic laws were strengthened and a subsidy was granted in case of trouble.

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•1584 – Called at the time of the assassination of William of Orange, further strengthened Anti-Catholic laws. Acts were passed declaring Jesuit and other Catholic priests to be traitors. 

•1586/1587 – Parliament debated the issue of whether Mary Queen of Scots should be executed – Elizabeth granted the trespassing on Royal Prerogative and even sought advice. She procrastinated on it once she had received it.

Elizabeth asserted her power by refusing the Royal Assent to bills that had passed through both houses – across her reign she refused over 60 Bills, with 15 in 1585 alone!

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The Anglo-Scottish Border

The border was England's only land border with a foreign state; Scotland was independent and seen as the back door into England. The breaking of the Northern Nobility in 1569 meant that Elizabeth had to continue her policy of placing outsiders in the key roles up North; but there was a problem. Southerners resented being put in the North, which they regarded as inhospitable and wild, and the Northerners were associated with factional rivalry and corruption; this meant that there was constant unease in regards to the border control in the North.

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The Northern Counties

The Northern counties came under the jurisdiction of the Council of the North, reinstated in 1569. This council was similar to that in Wales; independent and did not have to report to the Privy Council. It was to act as an agency for the Crowns authority in places outside the control of London and the South. Sussex was deemed to have failed due to his lack of control with the Northern Rebellion, and Huntingdon was his replacement in 1572.

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Assize Judges

These were royal judges that travelled a circuit, visiting a county twice a year. These were important social occasions as well as legal ones; they tried both civil and criminal cases and had the power to do a number of things that the ordinary Judges could not, such as fining the JP's. They were important to ensure that the Royal authority was being held in every county and they were used by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Keeper to pass on advice and instructions, although the Keeper only tended to do this during times of crisis, such as the social dislocation of the 1590's.

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Lord Lieutenant

After the threat of invasion increased in 1585 the use of Lord Lieutenants became far more structured; each Lieutenant had several shires under their control, and they delegated to leading gentry from each council, who were assisted by Muster Captains. This provided a reasonably effective structure for the organisation of local defence.

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Presbyterians believed that the Church of England should be further reformed. Cartwright was a Presbyterian and he spoke out against the role of the Bishops in the Church – saying there was no scriptural basis for them. He was the Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and Elizabeth sacked him, creating a sort of martyr – he had lost his job for the cause, which was like losing your life really.

This led to the publication of two Admonitions to Parliament; the first was published in 1572 and attacked the Book of Common Prayer and all its 'popish references' – this led to the writers, Field and Wilcox being imprisoned for a year. The second Admonition was published by Goodman and put forward a Presbyterian system of the Church. Whitgift developed an insulting tone, saying 'these Admonitions are the very steps and degrees to anabaptism' 

Presbyterianism remained a minority group; it was found only in London really, where the universities were. The sting was removed a little with the appointment of Grindal as Archbishop of Canterbury, as he was a Queens man and not as lax as Parker had become, but when he was suspended the movement could pick up speed again. 

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Whitgift's Articles and the Attack on Presbyterian

Whitgift was the ultimate Queens man – He issued three articles;

1.Clergy had to acknowledge the Royal Supremacy 

2.Clergy had to agree that the Prayer Book and Ordinal contained nothing contrary to the 'word of God'

3.Clergy had to accept that everything in the 39 Articles conformed to the 'word of God'

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Whitgift's Articles and the Attack on Presbyterian

Some clergy wanted to agree conditionally; they didn’t actually agree but they were prepared to say that they did in order to keep their jobs – this was not good enough for Whitgift; he wanted outright agreement or nothing at all. Eventually though, he was forced to back down and agreed a modified form of conformity, where all they had to do was use the prayer book; whilst he undoubtedly had full support of the Queen, most of her ministers regarded him with suspicion.

By the late 1580's the Presbyterian movement was declining; the leader Field died in 1589 and public opinion of the movement suffered after the Martin Maprelate Tracts in 1588. these were far too outrageous and humiliated the whole movement; they were incredibly against the Queen at a time when the Country needed to stick together; the Armada. After this, the movement slowly declined until it was dead – not to re-emerge until the 17th Century. 

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Grindal is a prime example of a conformist puritan – he was a Queens man and concerned with the upholding of her authority. He regarded vestments as 'adiaphora', a conformist point of view. He was responsible for quashing the Separatist movements in London in the 70's, when he was Bishop there and quickly rose through the Church to replace Parker in 1575. he was in good favour until he clashed opinions with the Queen when it came to Prophesying in London – as a Calvinist saw it as 'the poor man’s university'; where they could improve their preaching skills and do little harm. But the Queen saw it as a potential to preach highly protestant ideas without being controlled, and she ordered him to get rid of it. He refused. This resulted in him being put under house arrest until his death in 1583.

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Separatists wanted a wholly separate church – they wanted the Queen to have nothing to do with it, and no Bishops or leaders of any kind; they were far too radical for the Elizabethan period really. Browne was the first leader of the Separatist movement; he set up the first Separatist Church in Norwich with Harrison. But it soon petered out and they left for the Netherlands with some of their congregation; but they fell out and Browne returned.

Separatism returned in the late 1580's with Barrow and Greenwood. The numbers were small, but it was alarming enough to warrant the passing of the Acts of Seditious Secretaries in 1593. They were tried and executed for 'devising and circulating seditious books' and Separatism died with them; however it was reborn in the reign of Charles I, but that was a theologically different church to the Elizabethan one.

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Catholic missions

In the early years of Elizabeth's reign there was little contest from the Catholic Church in regards to her Protestant one; but in 1568 there was a formation of an English College at Douai which focussed on training priests to come to England and convert people back to the 'true faith' By 1575 11 priests had come over, by 1580 around a 100 were here. There was little or no infrastructure to their work and so they were forced to work from the houses of Catholic gentry – but they were already Catholic! They therefore couldn't convert anybody as they had no means of safety if they left Catholic houses.

Jesuits were far more deadly, they began arriving in 1580 and their motto was 'you give me the boy and I'll give you the man' Jesuit priests that were found, such as Campion were tried and executed, as he was in 1581. Bossy argues that the seminary and Jesuit priests did much to ensure the continuation of Catholicism during this time, but Haigh argues that they were less useful; they operated in restricted and strained areas, merely being a Catholic priest was enough to get you hanged from 1585, they were restricted to Catholic houses and then to the South, by the ports they came in from, and so there was little support for them there. Haigh says 'within two generations, the Catholics had dwindled to numerical insignificance' – so they were not very good at their job.

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Penal Laws Against Catholics

The settlement was soft on Catholics, but that was not to continue. In 1571 it was declared that bringing in Papal Bulls was treasonable, in 1581 it became treason to withdraw subjects' allegiance to the Queen or Church of England, in 1585 it became treason to be a Catholic priest – 123 priests were tried and executed under this act from 1586 – 1603. Recusancy fines were tightened in 1587 – going to £20 a month, this correlates to the fear of Spanish invasion, and as a result the persecution of recusants was at its height from 1588-1592.

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The Dangers from Internal Catholic Rebellions

Mary Queen of Scots was important here, obviously. The Catholic rebellion in 1569 scared the Government, these fears were increased by the Throckmorton Plot in 1583. This led to the Bond of Association, which was signed by a vast majority of people in Yorkshire, and the nobility/gentry. It vowed that if the Queen were to die suspiciously, those who would benefit from her death (Mary Queen of Scots) would also die. It was drafted by Walsingham and Cecil in 1584. 

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Catholic plots and Mary Stuart

 Mary Stuart became the focus of plots against Elizabeth; she was the heir and the threat was a psychological one for sure. Some Historians – Guy - have argued that some people, Cecil in particular, exaggerated the threat to try and scare Elizabeth into executing Mary.

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The Ridolfi Plot – 1571

Involved marrying Mary to Norfolk, and to involve Spain. However, Philip didn't really want Mary on the throne, as she was reckless and a bit of a tart. Nevertheless, Cecil used the plot to ensure the execution of Norfolk, though Mary escaped death.

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The Throckmorton Plot – 1583

Involved Spain again, they were to land troops in Sussex, under the control of Mary cousin. Walsingham uncovered plot by torturing Throckmorton himself, who also incriminated the Spanish Ambassador, Mendoza, who was then expelled from the Country. Bossy says it was a genuine threat that did threaten the security of Elizabeth, and it did lead to the Bond Of Association, discussed above.

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The Parry Plot - 1585

Welsh MP Parry confessed to plotting to assassinate the Queen, and replace her with Mary Stuart. The weird thing is he was meant to be working for Cecil, but came back wanting to assassinate the Queen – one explanation is that he did no such thing, and was set up, another is that he was recruited as a double agent on his mission, and plotted against the Queen. Whichever way, he was executed and the Bond of Association was sped up.

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The Babington Plot – 1586

The Babington plot had been intercepted by Walsingham a while before anything was done – he wanted to find legal evidence that would stand against her in court. He used his double agents to entrap both Babington and Mary into agreement to assassinate the Queen, and Mary was caught giving her support to the plot. She was tried in November 1586. 

Elizabeth no longer had any political reason to keep Mary alive – the Treaty of Berwick had satisfied her son, James VI, but she was reluctant to execute a fellow monarch, and feared it would set an unwelcome precedent for the English Monarchy. Eventually Elizabeth was panicked into signing a death warrant, but had no intention of sending it away. The Council decided to seal and send it without Elizabeth's knowledge – showing that they knew she had no intention of executing Mary. As a result, Mary was executed on 8th February, 1587, and died a martyr in most peoples eyes, for the Catholic faith.

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The Division of the Catholics

After the defeat of the Armada in 1588, the Catholics were pursued relentlessly. The authorities feared another Armada would be sent and anti-Catholic policies were pursued until most nobles deaths. Doran has suggested that the Government realised that Catholicism could not be stamped out entirely, and that they could make money from the recusants fines. The Queen did not wish to make the recusants bankrupt, but the policy was in the hands of the local men, who were less subtle in their hatred of Catholics, who charged very heavy fines. As a result Catholic landowners were burdened with heavy recusancy fines, although enforcement of them was patchy – of 800 recusants, it was found only 11 paid fines in Lancashire. In Cheshire, only 16 recusants paid the full fines of £260 per annum, and significantly none of these were the leading Catholic families in the area. 

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The Division of the Catholics

The Catholics became divided in the Archpriest controversy – secular priests did not like the idea of having an Archpriest at all, and they certainly didn't like the man that had been appointed to the role, Blackwell. It did not take long for two secular priests to appeal to Rome, who said that Blackwell had to stay, but he was not allowed to consult with Jesuits, as he had Jesuit favourings – priests feared he would allow the movement to be dominated by Jesuits, who were not really liked.

This divided English Catholics, and showed some secular priests requesting toleration of Catholicism if they broke with the Jesuits and pledged loyalty to the Queen. This was tempting for Elizabeth, but not taken.

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The Netherlands

Wernham argued that Elizabeth followed a consistent and ultimately successful policy towards the Netherlands; founded on fear of both France and Spain and the idea that she wanted the Netherlands to remain under loose Spanish control. Wilson however, argues that Elizabeth's policies were inconsistent and largely unsuccessful. Her fear of France was exaggerated, her desire for the maintenance of Spanish control was insincere and her policies failures led to divisions amongst the rebels in 1577. 

Basically there was unrest in the Netherlands as rebellions against the Spanish swept across Holland and Zeeland. Elizabeth officially offered herself as a mediator, but covertly offered help to the rebels, letting them convert English Soldiers, and preventing Alba from recruiting them to his side. This was fine until the Spanish became tougher in 1575; Elizabeth had to choose a side. She promised the rebels £100,000 as well as military support if the Spanish did not withdraw. But when it came to it, she didn't support the rebels, eventually she did hire an army to fight on behalf of the rebels, but then she was faced with a situation where the rebels were divided by religion, and she was losing control.

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The Netherlands

All in all, Elizabeth managed to tick off Spain whilst not doing anything in particular to aid the rebels; the situation simply got worse. 

After 1580 the situation got worse; Henry II of France refused to sign an anti-Spanish alliance, William of Orange was assassinated in 1585. Spain and France joined together in the Treaty of Joinville in 1584 against Elizabeth – her worst nightmare. In retaliation she was forced to sign the Treaty of Nonsuch in 1585.

Leicester and his troops arrived in the Netherlands in 1585. To be frank, he screwed up:

•He had ill-disciplined and badly paid troops that alienated the Dutch

•Two officers deserted and joined Parma

•The commanders quarrelled amongst themselves, not great for morale

•Leicester quarrelled with the Dutch over trade, taking into no account the sensitivities they felt towards such matters.

Leicester resigned his command in 1588 and returned to England, Elizabeth's handling of the whole situation nearly meant Philip had an advantage in the Armada in the Netherlands, who she nearly fell out with big time. Luckily the relations were not quite that bad.

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England and France

The St Bartholomew's day Massacre 1572, was the murder of thousands of French Protestants. This would have spelt the end for relations with France had we not just fallen out with Spain. It was because of these deteriorating relations that Elizabeth did not hesitate to renew the Treaty of Blois after the accession of Henry III in 1574. she also opened marriage negotiations with Anjou, discussed earlier. Xenophobia prevented the match, and when it broke down, Spanish power did not dwindle; things were getting sticky. 

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Overseas Trade and Plans for Colonisation

Trade moved from the South of the Netherlands to the North. In 1585 Gilbert colonised Virginia in the name of the Queen. The resulting colony was small and weak; permanent colonisation had to wait until the reign of James I.

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Origins of War

Elizabeth had supported pretenders to the Spanish throne, Philip had supported plots against Elizabeth; there was distrust on both sides that had been brewing since 1560. Philip had not not supported the excommunication in 1570 and his acquisition of Portugal was not met with the enthusiasm he had anticipated from Elizabeth.

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Origins of War

Elizabeth had supported pretenders to the Spanish throne, Philip had supported plots against Elizabeth; there was distrust on both sides that had been brewing since 1560. Philip had not not supported the excommunication in 1570 and his acquisition of Portugal was not met with the enthusiasm he had anticipated from Elizabeth.

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The Threat of Invasion

The Treaties of Joinville and Nonsuch made war look increasingly likely, Elizabeth's actions in the Netherlands had alienated the Spanish and there were Spanish troops in the Netherlands – by 1587, war was set.

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Why was the Armada defeated?

The Strategy was poor – it involved stopping off at the Netherlands to pick up the experienced and scary army led by Parma, but he had not gained sufficient control of the coastline to allow this to happen.

•The leader of the Armada, Medina Sidonia was not experienced at sea; he did not want the job and became increasingly seasick!

•The winds were favourable to the English, the Spanish ships were not meant to cross at disturbed sea and it was basically a ****-up. - This wind was known as 'The Protestant Wind'

•The English took advantage of this disruption and drove Medina Sidonia away from the Parma forces, meaning they had no chance of collecting them. Furthermore, the Spanish ships had to return to Spain the dangerous way, which lost them many more ships.

It is true that the Queen had shown great leadership, her sailors had been brave, ingenious and well led, but without the 'Protestant Wind', all might well have been lost.

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The Decline of Elizabeth's Authority

Elizabeth was getting old; all of her ministers had died in the 1580's and early 1590's and their replacements weren't half as good; Cecil was getting old. As the war dragged on (it didn't end with the Armada like everyone thinks, in fact there were two more!) it became more and more expensive; this meant an increase in taxes and other means of raising money such as abusing the monopolies which caused a deterioration in the relations between the Crown and Parliament. Factional rivalries became intense and uncontrolled and outside of Government; bad harvests were leading to a food crisis, and there was widespread uncertainty in regards to the succession for the ageing Queen.

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The Quality of Government

Dudley died in 1588, which hit the Queen hard. He was followed by a succession of able ministers; Mildmay in 1589, Walsingham and Croft in 1590, Hatton in 1591. The council was small and all these deaths caused a problem; by 1597 there were only 11 members of the Council. As Cecil aged he taught his son everything he knew; Robert Cecil became the new protégé. This angered the step-son of Dudley; Earl of Essex. The replacements to the Council tended to be the middle-aged sons of those she had lost; it was often the case that they lacked their fathers skills and were no longer the leading noblemen, as Hammer pointed out; 'the dearth of great aristocrats mattered to contemporaries because it suggested that Elizabeth's council no longer included the most illustrious and important families in the land'. 

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The Quality of Government

Dudley died in 1588, which hit the Queen hard. He was followed by a succession of able ministers; Mildmay in 1589, Walsingham and Croft in 1590, Hatton in 1591. The council was small and all these deaths caused a problem; by 1597 there were only 11 members of the Council. As Cecil aged he taught his son everything he knew; Robert Cecil became the new protégé. This angered the step-son of Dudley; Earl of Essex. The replacements to the Council tended to be the middle-aged sons of those she had lost; it was often the case that they lacked their fathers skills and were no longer the leading noblemen, as Hammer pointed out; 'the dearth of great aristocrats mattered to contemporaries because it suggested that Elizabeth's council no longer included the most illustrious and important families in the land'. 

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The Quality of Government

Government also suffered from the declining yield from taxation; they still used the Marian book of rates which were outdated, as were the yields from parliamentary subsidies, here the valuations were outdated and nobody sought to update the system. But in 1590 these things came to a head; you see with the war with Spain Crown finances were undoubtedly precarious and relied on monopolies; but they worked. Unlike Philip, Elizabeth rarely resorted to borrowing to finance her wars.

However it was costly and the Crown wasn't used to funding long wars; this started in 1585 and would continue right up to her death. However it did achieve its goals in the Netherlands; they became independent and apart from minor blips, England was never seriously under threat from invasion.

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The Quality of Government

The accession of Henry VI to the French throne meant that relations were unreliable and frustrating rather than hostile, in Ireland a combination of unrestrained desire for profit for adventurers and the inability of English military forces to secure final victory all contributed to the continuing tension.

With Parliament; relations between it and the Queen remained good, until someone tried to mess with the royal prerogative; at which the Queen promptly lost her temper. However the issues of the monopolies was the catalyst for a break down in relations, underpinned by the strain on relations imposed by war. This break down can be seen in the incident where control was lost over the House of Commons whilst discussing the monopolies; this not only shows the bitterness of the members, but also Robert Cecil's blatant lack of skill as a Parliamentary Manager and his lack of resources compared to his father. The house was pulled back from the brink in 1601 with a compromise and a 'stroking' speech from the Queen. 

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Factions at Court

The factions were between Essex and Cecil; the second generation. Essex became increasingly paranoid about Cecil in the 1590's and although it was justified by 1601, it had clouded his earlier political judgement.

William Cecil had previously held the most important way to gain patronage; he didn't abuse this as he recognised how it could result in a destabilisation of Court, plus there were other ways, Dudley or Hatton, but by 1590 these two were dead and Cecil was the only means of patronage. Cecil was increasingly handing over his roles to his son, who was less inclined to keep the balance and the faction between Robert Cecil and Essex meant Essex was increasingly overlooked; leaving him poorer, and angrier. 

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Essex's Faction

Essex was concerned about the Cecil families monopoly of Parliament; he wanted to be like his step-father but was convinced that they prevented him from doing so. He quickly build up followers such as the Bacon brothers, who felt they were being over looked in favour of Cecil, and were attracted by the favours he hoped to bestow. But Essex's attempts proved to be disastrous; in 1593 he sought an office for Francis Bacon but was directly rebuffed, Cecil suggested that Bacon should be put forwards for the consolation prize, causing Essex to lose his temper. Bacon was undoubtedly able, so this failure highlights Essex’s lack of skill as a political leader, or even a political figure. 

This lack of political skill also coincided with a fall in his finances; he had failed in Cadiz in 1597 and it was on this he had gambled his financial future; ignoring orders to seek his own financial gain. He left Court in a huff and only returned when he was appointed Earl Marshal. He showed himself up when discussing war with Spain; the Cecil’s advocated peace and the Queen needed to save money, yet he pushed for continuing the war for his own glory. His isolation was increased by his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1598, where he failed abysmally. He had attempted to restore any form of finances to his name and had failed dismally.

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Crown and Parliament

Elizabeth called four parliaments from 1588 to 1603:

•1589 – concerned with raising revenues for the war with Spain; the Commons voted the Queen a double subsidy paid over four years.

•1593 – Legislation concerning recusants; there was some opposition to a bill against Protestant sectaries. Wentworth was imprisoned (isn't he always in prison?) for raising the issue of the succession

•1597/1598 – Elizabeth really needed money. She also introduced the Poor Law; there were many controversies, especially over monopolies.

•1601 – Many moans over monopolies, but Elizabeth showed her political skill with her 'Golden Speech'.

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Crown and Parliament

It became clear that the management of Parliament became more difficult over the last years, there are a number of possible reasons for this;

•The decline in quality at the Privy Council; Smith described the new people as 'mediocrities'. 

•Financial demands became increased when harvests were bad; subsidies were granted with 'ill grace'


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The Monopolies Issue

1597 was a desperately bad year; poor harvests led to an increase in food prices leading to a food crisis and evidence of starvation in some parts of the country. Real incomes were declining so asking for taxes was not popular. Monopolies were given to councillors, and meant they got all the income from something, for example the court composers enjoyed the monopoly of the sale of music paper, which funded their compositions. However some, such as Essex's monopoly over the import of sweet wines was less defensible. As finances became more desperate; the Crown depended on the sale of monopolies to finance itself. Monopolies led to increased prices in those areas, so those holding the monopoly could make as much money as possible. But by 1601 Guy said; 'most fractious'. This is perhaps the only time that the Crowns critics gained control of parliament; they were organised and detailed and in the end they got their way; the most unpopular monopolies were revoked by royal proclamation and the Queen stroked the MPs in her 'golden speech'

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Continuing War with Spain

England was at war for national and religious survival against a universal Catholic conspiracy and the nature of the conflict required an explicit commitment to the assistance of co-religionists in France and the Netherlands. Elizabeth did not want the fall of the Spanish empire, she didn't want to conquer anywhere, she simply wanted to survive. 

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War at Sea

In 1592 Drake led an expedition with an abortive attack on Lisbon; profitable plundering expeditions of Frobisher and Cumberland, in 1593 Hawkins and Frobisher each led unprofitable plundering expeditions, 1594 saw the capture of a Spanish treasure ship, 1596 saw the capturing of Cadiz.

In 1589 Elizabeth funded an expedition to destroy the last of the Spanish fleets and install a pretender onto the throne of Portugal and to intercept Spanish vessels full with treasure on their voyage to the Americas. This was a partnership of Crown and private funding and a disaster on all counts. There were strategic flaws, poor command, lack of artillery, drunkenness and disease; it was mistakes like these that prevented Elizabethan Government from waging war effectively.

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War in the Netherlands

After the death of Dudley relations with the Dutch rebels began to improve and the English were able to make advancements in the uprising. Sir Francis Vere was an able and respected commander, who built a strong relationship with the rebels and ensured that the territories lost to Spain were slowly recovered.  The Spanish position was deteriorating fast and Parma would have been fired had he not died of wounds. By 1594 the Spanish had been expelled from the northern Netherlands and the Dutch rebellion had succeeded. The North became an independent state and the South regained a degree of autonomy.

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The Problem of Ireland

It was the Earl of Tyrone behind the most difficult rebellion to suppress in 1595; he was motivated by a combination of factors; culture, ambition and religion. This would have been more controllable had Spain not tried to use it to their advantage; they included an Irish contingent in their 1596 Armada. The fact that they had signified their intent caused unease, which was made worse when Tyrone strengthened his position in 1598; it started to look like Tyrone would establish an independent and Catholic Ireland; looking to Spain for support. This would be a side door into England.

Essex was sent to Ireland in 1599 and he titted up big time; he defied the Queens order of confrontation, instead making peace and returning to Court. However after his departure the English made good progress; defeating the Irish at Kinsdale in 1601 and Tyrone fleeing. He eventually made peace with Mountjoy in March 1603, by which time Elizabeth had died. James I found himself resorting to the policy abandoned 70 years previous; using the local nobility to govern Ireland. The conflict left bitterness and hatred for the English amongst the Irish, as well as a destroyed Ireland.

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Social and Economic Problems

Guy said 'the mid 1590's witnessed turmoil created by rising prices, bad harvests and outbreaks of plague and influenza' – the worst harvests were in 1596 and 1598; with a 6% yield. 

The Government response to any form of expressing unsatisfactory opinions was harsh; in 1596 four men from Oxfordshire seized arms and marched to London; they were captured and tortured and executed for treason when they posed no real threat to the Crown, but vagrancy was high; the Government feared camping rebellions like those of Kett's in 1549. Eventually the Government released its 'poor law' that aimed to help the deserving and punish the undeserving poor people; it put in place a system of collecting the Poor Law Tax and distributing it efficiently. This system was so good it was kept for two centuries and alleviated the worst of poverty for many years. It also empowered parishes to take action and give the able and deserving jobs such as apprenticeships. Whilst the 1598 law missed out the main crisis, by the time it did come into force it prevented any others and helped the future poor people. 

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The Essex Rebellion

By 1599 Essex was broke; he had been charged with Treason (on absurd charges, but charged nonetheless) and owed £16,000. in 1600 he staged a demonstration in London, about 300 of his supporters gathered at his home in London, where he held any councillors sent to him with messages from the Queen hostage and tried to rally the support of London; it failed. Whilst he had left the house to try and rally this support the councillors had been released and Whitehall had been fortified; he had to surrender. Essex and five of his associates were executed. 

On the one hand, Williams said; 'his key supporters had lost touch with political reality and had disastrously exaggerated Essex's popular support' on the other, 'the rebels were the visible tip of a larger range of discontent'; reflecting the diminished authority Elizabeth had enjoyed during the final years of her reign.

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Continuing Doubts Over the Succession

Poor Wentworth was constantly punished for voicing doubts over the succession in Parliament but he was not the only one that worried. Everybody wanted to remain in favour with her successor; but they couldn't **** up to them because they didn't know who it would be! Essex in particular had been in regular contact with James VI for some time, and Cecil (junior) had done the same since 1601. however there were 12 possibles for the succession, although few doubted James VI would inherit; he was at least protestant, he had the best claim and two sons to pass the throne on to. Nevertheless, Elizabeth refused to name a successor, up to the point where it is not sure if she even signed the documents on her deathbed allowing James to ascend. It is undoubted that she lost control and significance towards the end of her reign, as all eyes turned to the man that would succeed her. 

Elizabeth's gradual decline was a godsend to Cecil, who was able to recognise she was on her way out and make arrangements ahead of time for the accession of James VI. Thanks to this, the documents had already been agreed and the succession was remarkably smooth for such a tumultuous reign spanning 45 years and much of the credit for that must be given to Cecil.

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Unity by 1603

By 1603 a broad political unity had been achieved; there had been no real uprising against Elizabeth since the Northern Earls in 1569. The political nation were intensely loyal to her. The religious situation was favourable; Catholicism had declined and Protestantism increased. The English Catholics were divided and had no clear leadership. There was a certain degree of religious unity by 1603 that saw no extremes of either side have any real influence. But there were still problems to be fixed; the Church was in need of reforming institutionally and the financial position was weak in 1603, after 22 years of war. So James had work to do, but he was lucky to have inherited such a stable Kingdom, all things considered.

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By the time of Elizabeth's death in 1603, England was in a much better position than it had been at the time of her accession; the Crown had been strengthened and national unity had been achieved. England appeared confident, at the brink of achieving an overseas empire. The succession was smooth and hitch free. 

In 1547, on the death of Henry VIII England had been left at a crossroads; he had strengthened Parliament in his move to break away from Rome, and ultimately enriched the nobility and gentry. He had left many issues and divisions in the country, and Edward had a hard time; he had been left a crisis. By the time Elizabeth got to the throne, she had to deal with these issues whilst governing a seemingly powerless state compared to the powerhouses that were France and Spain. Her handling of these problems cannot be said to be weak, or foolish. She was strong and mostly, decisive. However, whether her reign can be described as a 'triumph' is still being debated; she remains an attraction for historians, her personality and control are unarguably fascinating.

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Elizabeth has been accredited with the far-sightedness of being the first ruler to perceive the possibility of increasingly national power and prestige through imperial development. She has been used as a symbol throughout the ages; showing national unity in a time of dislocation, or representative of the modern woman, feisty yet vulnerable.

The appearance of national unity was an illusion; religious divisions still existed but they were decreasing; Catholics were a thing of the past, tales of the elderly and Protestantism had been in place for 45 years by 1603; people had born and died protestants because they knew nothing else. That was exactly what Elizabeth had wanted and she achieved it.

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Moreover the relationship between the Crown and the people held true; resources for maintaining law and order were limited but England was still the most ordered in terms of society in Europe and nothing can take that away. When the time came to fight for their Queen, people held together and things like the Maprelate tracts were considered treasonous and dealt with. 

To describe Elizabeth's reign as a 'triumph' is a vast oversimplification; the successes clearly outweighed the failures and for this Elizabeth must be given credit. As Williams argued; 'Thanks in part to her caution, the realm was preserved from the dissensions and calamities that beset Europe and the Crown was saved from the disasters that befell it under more interventionist monarchs' . 

She was clear sighted and wise, and although the following opinion may be an overstatement, she clearly deserves her place amongst the greatest of English monarchs; Starkey has described Elizabeth as 'not only great, but also admirable'  

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