Religious Reaction to Elizabeth I's Religious Settlement


Elizabeth I's Religious Settlement - Success of Failure?


  • Catholic Reaction - Initially seemed content with changes:
  • -     They had expected some change and anticipated a return to 1553; the retention of some Catholic aspects e.g. vestments & elements of ceremony were pleasing and satisfied them.
  • -     There were few prosecutions of catholics for non-attendance at church and few were executed for refusing to swear the Oath of Loyalty.
  • -     Many Catholics/conservatives did not desire a return to papal supremacy and were unhappy with the extent of change under Mary I (no widespread recusancy).
  • -     There appeared to be a lack of leadership for the Catholics to rally against the settlement (until 1562 where the Pope prohibited Catholics from attending Anglican services).


  • Some resistance from Catholics:
  • -     All of the Catholic Bishops, bar one, rejected the settlement and were replaced and imprisoned.
  • -     400 clergymen lost or resigned their post.
  • -     Some continued to hide Catholic service books and artefacts in a hope that times would change again.
  • -     Catholic gentry protected fellow Catholics in places like Lancashire and Sussex.
  • -     Catholics gradually be come more organised leading to the Northern Rebellion 1569.
  • The Protestant reaction:
  • -     Saw the settlement as the first step towards further reforms and challenged it, with some e.g. Foxe refusing to accept the compromise.
  • -     Widespread desire for more change led by those who had been in exile during Mary's reign.
  • -     Puritans refused to accept it as they were opposed to the Via Media. Some objected to the 39 Articles and the unchanged structure of the church.
  • -     In 1563, the Puritans attempted to include further measures e.g. reduction of holy days, simplification of vestments.
  • -     The 1566 Vestiarian Controversy was where 37 London priests refusing to wear the vestments, breaking the order from the Act of Uniformity 1559.


Elizabeth's religious settlement was somewhat successful in the short term as it seemed to appease the majority of Catholics. However, due to that fact that Protestants were never satisfied by it and in the long run Catholics were also discontent, meaning it was largely a failure. 


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