Triumph of Elizabeth; Factional Rivalries and the Decline of Elizabethan Government

Notes from the AQA A2 textbook Chapter 8: Factional Rivalries and the Decline of Elizabethan Government covering the decline of Elizabeth's authority and religion in Elizabethan England

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Rachel Jones 1
Chapter 8
The Last Years of Elizabeth, 15881603
Factional rivalries and the decline of Elizabethan government
The decline of Elizabeth's authority
Last 15 years of her reign proved to be an anticlimax
Most of her longstanding and able privy councillors had died in the late 1580s and early 1590s less
impressive replacements
War with Spain dragged on and became financially more difficult to sustain
Taxation increased and the abuse of monopolies caused deterioration in relations between Crown and
Factional rivalries became uncontrollable, and poor harvests led to increasing food prices
No successor created widespread uncertainty
The quality of government
Sept 1588: Leicester's death
Lots of able ministers died in quick succession: Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir Walter Mildmay, Sir Francis Walsingham,
Sir James Croft, Earl of Warwick, Earl of Shrewsbury, Sir Christopher Hatton
By 1597: Council had only 11 members
o Elizabeth did not replace members immediately worsened by refusing to let Burghley retire
If Burghley's effectiveness diminished it was the Queen's fault
Burghley was left preeminent secured the appointment of his son
o Angered Essex
Elizabeth tended to replace ministers with their middleaged sons who lacked their fathers' skills
Hammer: `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'
Declining yield of taxation also added to suffering
o No attempt to revise the Marian Book of Rates decline in customs revenue
o No one updated the out of date system
o 1590s: Spanish war meant that there was a reliance on patents of monopoly
Financial administration remained tightly controlled and the systems worked
o Elizabeth only made limited attempts to finance her wars through borrowing
Expense of warfare created problems:
o After 1585: country was at war
o Success:
Dutch independence was secured
England was never seriously threatened by Spanish invasion
Henry IV's crown meant that unreliability was the basis of AngloFrench relations
o Failure:
War stretched England's scarce resources to the limit
Scarcity of resources made it extremely difficult for strategic objectives to be consistently
defined and realised
Continuing tension in Ireland where English desire for profit and the inability of English military
forces continued

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Rachel Jones 2
Chapter 8
Relations between Crown and parliament remained reasonably cordial
o Monopolies issue was the rare occasion when Crown's officers lost control of the House of Commons
o 1601: House was offered a compromise and season ended with MPs being `stroked' by the Queen in
her `Golden Speech'
Factional rivalry almost served to destroy the effectiveness of government and undermine the Queen's
The Image of the Queen
The cult of virginity, understated in the early parts of her reign, were now…read more

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Rachel Jones 3
Chapter 8
Factions at court
Nature of the governmental system created much competition for advancement
o During most of Elizabeth's reign, Burghley was in charge of patronage and several others so he was
not an over mighty noble
o By the 1590s the system was becoming unbalanced:
Many of the alternative sources of patronage, Leicester, Hatton, were dead
Burghley increasingly passed over the role of broker to his son less inclined to let the
system maintain a balance
Victim was Earl of…read more

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Rachel Jones 4
Chapter 8
o Essex took three months to apologise appointed Lord Lieutenant in Ireland
Hoped to restore his political reputation by military triumph
Restore his battered finances FAIL
Rivalry between Essex and Cecil
The Earl of Essex Sir Robert Cecil
Soldier and man of action despised Cecil, consideringConscientious bureaucrat
him an upstart, resenting his influence over patronage and
exaggerating his animosity towards him
Quarrel over antiSpanish strategy, 1596 and over key Able to exploit power and influence of his father to
appointments…read more

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Rachel Jones 5
Chapter 8
o Cecil declared in 1601 that the House was `more fit for a grammar school than a court of Parliament'
Problems were not evident during 1589 Parliament
o Afterglow of the Spanish Armada triumph
1593 Parliament: glow had faded
o Elizabeth had to use charm to pass bills/get subsidies
o Francis Bacon fell from favour when he queried the methods used to secure a further subsidy
o Religious division was an issue when passing the act against sectaries
o Peter…read more

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Rachel Jones 6
Chapter 8
o Weakened the impact of the Catholic mission
o Made it much more difficult for Catholicism to respond to the challenge that the Church of England
was able to offer by the 1590s
Authorities feared another armada might be sent against England reflected in the attitude towards Catholics
o Walsingham continued to sponsor antiCatholic agents
o Earl of Huntingdon pursued antiCatholic activity right up to death in 1596
o 15901603: 53 priests and 35 Catholic lay persons were executed
Financial…read more

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Rachel Jones 7
Chapter 8
o Activities sufficient to alarm the authorities led to passing of Act against Seditious Sectaries
o Barrow, Greenwood and Penry were tried and executed and Separatism died with them
Late 1580s: Presbyterian movement was in decline
o Whitgift's attacks and the war against Catholic Spain forced Protestants together undermined the
o Martin Marprelate tracts printed in 1588 and 1589
Last desperate act by Puritan opponents of the Elizabethan Church to reassert themselves
Collinson: they combined wit, savagery and a…read more


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