Elizabeth & Government

  • Created by: cieran32
  • Created on: 08-11-18 23:15

Elizabeth I and her Parliament

Elizabeth I and her Parliament

Parliament's power increased over the 16th century. A historical debate has developed over whether conflict between Crown and parliament increased during Elizabeth’s reign.

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Neale's 'Puritan Choir' Thesis

A historian called Neale developed a thesis on the role of Parliament:

  • Parliament’s increasing importance, especially in religious matters, increasingly encouraged factionalism and opposition to royal authority in the Commons.
  • A group of Puritans (the ‘Puritan Choir’) demanded more Protestant reforms for the Church of England.
  • The Puritan Choir is evidence of a more organised Commons that was prepared to contest Elizabeth’s policies.
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Evidence to support Neale's Thesis

  • The Commons angered Elizabeth I by discussing the succession in 1566 and religious reform in 1593.
  • There were conflicts between the Commons and Queen over monopolies in 1601. The Queen granted the Common's demands.
  • Between 1563 and 1566, at least 40 MPs (working together) pressed for more strongly Protestant religious reform.
  • The Commons asserted their rights:
    • To have free speech in 1576 and 1593.
    • To settle an election dispute in a Norfolk constituency in 1586.
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revisionist thesis

  • Historians such as Elton interpreted the Parliament differently to Neale. This different view is called revisionism.
  • There was more cooperation than conflict. Any opposition was infrequent, not organised, and never a serious challenge to Elizabeth I.
  • Any disagreements were usually working out policies, not actual conflicts.
  • There were only 13 parliaments, on average 10 weeks each, in a 45-year reign. The rest of the time Elizabeth ruled through the Privy Council and its machinery.
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evidence to support the revisionist thesis

  • Most of the time, the Commons gave Elizabeth what she wanted.
  • Elizabeth forbade both the Commons and the Privy Council from discussing her marriage and succession.
  • Parliament was effectively under the control of the Privy Council and nobility. At least a third of MPs were nominated by a noble patron, not elected.
  • The Commons conceded to the Lord Chancellor over the 1586 Norfolk election.
  • There was no general, concerted support for freedom of speech.
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Regional Government During Elizabeth I's Reign

Under the Tudors, and especially from the break with Rome, central government interference in local communities increased.

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justice of the peace (JPs)

  • JPs implemented a range of government policies. The poor laws greatly increased their responsibilities.
  • Under Elizabeth I, the trend towards increasing the number of JPs continued. By 1600, there was an average of 50 per county.
  • JPs were unpaid. Even though their workload increased, there were always volunteers because of the prestige of the role locally.
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lord lieutenants

  • Lord Lieutenants became permanent in the latter half of Elizabeth’ reign. England was at war with Spain from 1585 until after Elizabeth’s death.
  • They were usually members of the nobility.
  • They raised local militias, oversaw the work of JPs, managed food supplies during times of war or famine, collected forced loans and reported local events to the Privy Council.
  • Originally supported by sheriffs, deputy Lords Lieutenant were also appointed.
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Regional Councils

  • The Council of the North continued operating.
  • From 1572, it was led by the Earl of Huntingdon, a committed Protestant. He took over from the Earl of Sussex.
  • Huntingdon took over after the Northern Rebellion and Ridolfi plot. He made sure increasingly harsh measures suppressing Catholics were implemented.
  • The Council of the Marches also continued operating during Elizabeth’s reign.
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