Elizabeth's last years

  • Created by: Chanabix
  • Created on: 30-05-14 17:31

How important was the privy council? VERY!

  • responsible for the general admin. of the country - who was on it depended on eliz. (tended to have money and influence - eliz. had to make sure that the most powerful men in the country were represented else they would rebel against her). 
  • 19 members (50 under mary) and by her death there was only 13.
  • usually met around 3x p/w but near the end of eliz's reign they met almost every day.

functions of the p.c

  • adjudicate as a court of law and when sitting as a board when dealing with local maladmin.
  • discuss matters of state and offer policy advice to the queen. 
  • manage crown finances with lord treasurer and the chancellor of the exchequer.
  • oversee operation of and appeals from regional councils e.g. council of the north.
  • enforce a range of laws and regulations with regards to law and order, vagrancy and wages.
  • oversee arrangements of national defence - supervising operations of trained bands in individual counties and serving as lord lieutenant with militia responsibilities.
  • enforce religious settlement 1559 - requiring JPs to investigate compliance in counties.
  • Guy - manage parliament. But was this individuals or the whole council? (p.c = m.p)
  • advising on/enforcing policy but although they made decisions the monarch could veto - eliz. always had final decision - tending to pressurise her in parliament. Didn't allow discussion of some things without her consent e.g. marriage, succession or religion - QUEEN = POWER.
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  • not important, queen used to imprison, veto, delay council bills and she summoned/dismissed when she saw fit.
  • pass laws (e.g. religious settlement/royal supremacy) and raise taxes/when wanted money (extraordinary revenue).
  • didn't meet regularly, 13 sessions in 44 years, less than 3 sessions in 45 year reign, each session lasted on average 10 weeks. ATTENDANCE TENDED TO BE POOR ANYWAY.
  • 462 mps, 2 knights from each county, 2 burgesses from each borough, nomination from crown or nobleman. 
  • not democratically elected, no parties, mps = m.c/u.c, peers sat in house of lords = more important.


  • advice - eliz. didn't want/royal prerogative, p.c. = current political opinions and way of them to communicate with those who worked with them. 
  • Neale - influential and opposed elements of eliz. reign - "puritan choir" - 40 mps.
  • Elton - house of lords more important, exaggerated importance of puritans. 
  • crown devoted to putting supporters in commons suggesting important. 62 new borough seats - assumed were to ensure crown's direct supporters but creation from aristocrats who sought prestige that came from commons.
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  • Monopolies 1597 - admin. effectiveness shown of parliament. Crown selling patents of monopoly, to pay for spain war - financially difficult time, people starving.
    But patents seen as extortionate, inflationary and anti-competitive, especially regarding everyday products such as salt.
    By 1601 = high resentment, parliament "fractious". Guy - mps had pressing local concerns and sought legislation.
    Cecil attempted to halt the creation of new laws but for the only time in eliz's reign critics of the crown were able to control parliamentary proceedings. Well organised, able to produce detailed evidence of how patents increased prices and decreased quality.
    Complaint so bad that crown had to compromise for subsidy bill necessary for spain war - most unpopular monopolies immediately revoked by royal proclamation which also authorised complaints to seek redress at common law against patentees. 

    PARLIAMENT OCCASIONALLY IMPORTANT - legislative and revenue-raising purposes, largely seconary feature of the eliz. political system. BUT important enough for p.c management - Cecil played an important role in the deliberations of the commons.
    Monopolies - work parliament performed contributed to significant change.  

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William Cecil

  • 1558 - principal secretary, 40 years partnership. quickly key figure.
  • 1572 - raised to the peerage as Baron Burghley and then appointed Lord Treasurer.
  • Eliz. had complete faith in him - loyalty and judgement. Trust never wavered despite relig. diff.
  • Policy making, management to parliament, financial management, key figure in council.
  • Astute - council could not simply comprise of his own allies, knew he would need to achieve working relationship with some of the key members of the conservative aristocracy who may have seen him simply as a reformer. 
  • Clear divisions between him and his allies - favoured moderate and pragmatic policies and protestant ideologies led by leicester.
  • Guy - radical figure in religious terms, Cecil and Leicester disputes = occasional and focussed on specific policy issues.
  • Guy - eliz. controlled her own policy more than any other tudor - p.c. operated as a board: letter and warrents were signed collectively - no single chief minister, collective responsibility and coporate decision making. 
  • Not even Cecil exercised same power and influence as other times.
  • Later years - administratively conservative, difficult to make changes that necessary, quality of his admin. declined. Passed to his son, Robert Cecil.  
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Views of parliament.


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Government in the 90s - problems

  • replacements of p.c's who died in late 80s and 90s (effecitve ministers dying in succession = blow to eliz. personally) = less impressive, lacked experience and authority - only cecil prepared for the job. Reliance on middle-aged sons of former councillors - lacking skill, absense of senior noblemen on the council.
  • eliz. wanting small and cohesive council = problems for quality of gov't on deaths. 1597 = 11 pcs and she failed to make immediate replacements. Worsened by refusal to allow Burghley to retire - left pre-eminent at no fault of his own, quickly secured appointment of his son = angered Essex.
  • war with spain dragged - financially difficult.
  • tax increase and monopolies issue (decline in eliz. authority but 1601 'golden speech' compromise) - deterioration between crown and parliament.
  • declining yield from tax - no attempt to revise marian book of rates = decline in customs revenue. Yeild from parliamentary subsidies also declined in real terms - valuations out of date and not updated. Matters rose in 90s - expenditure of war = reliants on monopolies. BUT financial admin. remained tightly controlled and the systems despite being old continued to work. Eliz. only attempted limitingly to finance war through borrowing. War spend in 1st 27 years = little and only ever short campaigns, focus on maintaining peace. 1585+ = continual = strain on eng. resources. 
  • factional rivalrys = uncontrollable.
  • series of poor harvests = increase food prices and subsistence crisis some areas.
  • lack of named successor = widespead uncertainty as the queen began to age.
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Faction in Eliz. last years - division = authority

Robert Cecil - 1563-1612

  • elected to HoC 1584 - groomed by his father.
  • knighted 1591 - promoted to p.c. 3 months later.
  • became increasingly involved in routine business of gov't and relieved his father of responsibility for much of the beaurocratic burden. 
  • influential spokesman in HoC.
  • father's deteriorating health = cecil increasingly concerned with business of gov't.
  • 1596 = secretary of state.
  • 1597 = chancellor of the dutchy of lancaster (patronage = money and power).
  • Burghley died 1598 and 1599 he was master of wards - profits from estates.
  • Downfall of Essex 1601 = dominance in gov't.
  • 1601 = regular correspondence with James VI and presided over a smooth transition to james' monarchy - looking ahead, good tactics.
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Robert Devereaux 1566 - 1601

  • arrived at court 1584 and quickly in queen's favour
  • military service of crown, succeeding his step father of master of the horse.
  • served in drake's exped. to sp. in 1589 and later in fr. and sp. distinguishing himself in capture of cadiz 96 - azordes exped. 97.
  • 1599 - lord lieutenant of ire. and his failure there was the final rapture - imprisoned.
  • 1599 his stock with the queen began to decline - distrusted his tendancy to disobey - quarrel at court when queen slapped him and he went to draw his sword - if he had = treason.
    his distrust of cecil worsened his case. 
  • monopoly of sweet wines not renewed = financially fragile.
  • armed himself with a group of supporters in response who rode to london 1601 - force an audience with the wueen and gave cecil opporunity to destroy him, securing his conviction/execution for treason. 
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Burghley and Essex - increasing resentment.

  • Essex believed he was entitled to operate as a patronage broker an associated with his late step-father but found himself increasingly frozen out. Cecil appointed by his father - less inclined to let system retain rough balance -> breakdown of relationship.
  • Burghley hoping to promote family interests by pushing his son's career so that their estate matched best aristocratic families of the land.
  • Burghley promoted careers in subsidary roles of a group of councillors who lacked the calibre of their predecessors.
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Burghley and Essex - increasing resentment.

  • Essex believed he was entitled to operate as a patronage broker an associated with his late step-father but found himself increasingly frozen out. Cecil appointed by his father - less inclined to let system retain rough balance -> breakdown of relationship.
  • Burghley hoping to promote family interests by pushing his son's career so that their estate matched best aristocratic families of the land.
  • Burghley promoted careers in subsidary roles of a group of councillors who lacked the calibre of their predecessors.
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Why Cecil won the factional struggle with Essex

  • Essex felt that Cecil was stopping him emulating role of his step-father. Also political division - Burghley seeking to end sp. war and Essex anxious for military glory. Essex built up a following. Essex = little scope for satifying their ambitions - his poor judgement. 
  • Queen showed less enthusiasm to advance Essex politically - his first attempt to achieve promotion for his followers in 1593 = disaster (sought attorney-general for Bacon but directly rebutted by Queen).
  • Essex lost his temper with Cecil - suggested should be put forward for solicitor-general (failed later) - queen had no intention of being bullied to appoint bacon, caused her annoyance. 
  • Essex short term adv. when Eliz. physician Lopez fell but Cecil appointed secretary of state during his absense on the Cadiz campaign. 
  • Essex followers aware of Cecil winning factional struggle, Bacon acutely aware that Essex did not help his own cause and the Queen was suspicious. 
  • Bacon's solution - Essex make himself useful at court like Leicester did and regain Queen's favour - Essex temporarily unsuited.
  • Continued failure as a patronage broker demonstrated - fail to win officers for his followers (e.g Sidney) when Cobham's death = vacant positions.
  • Essex desperate financial position on exped. 1597 - gambled financial future. Failure of exped. as he abandoned crown's strategic objectives for his own financial gain - worsened his chance of achievement for him and his followers. Left court and only came back when queen made earl marshal - consolidation following resentment of promotion of effingham and nottingham. Set on collision course with cecils and queen. 
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Why Essex finally lost favour with the Queen/execu

  • challenged her authority - built up power base in the counties, limited scale but pressured local gentry to declare themselves in favour of him and against the cecils, clashes sometimes violent. Dependent on him for land/local status and he bullied them. Splitting counties = dangerous if local network he was building up was extensive enough. 
    1598 he swore at the queen over the size of her army sent - she boxed his ears and he had to be stopped from drawing his sword - treason.
  • Beginning of the end - tolerant of his youth and had given him great power/status - she now gave him enough rope to hang himself with and a chance to show his loyalty (suspicious of his attempts to try and control court) and obedience - ire exped. 1599 - he disobeyed, returned without permission and abandoned his post. When he returned Eliz. wouldn't recieve him (suspended from p.c. and his offices, kept under house arrest) - refused his monopoly on sweet wines (his largest revenue source) and gave him the choice of accepting her decisions and seeing his political influence ebb away or challenging - followers denied advancement.
  • Essex rebellion - unsuccessfully attempted to raise an army in London (rose through streets trying to raise an army from disbanded soldiers by shouting that his life was in danger, they ignored him as the gentry in the counties did - people knew power rested with the queen) to stag a coup 1601 - Eliz. tried and executed him, along with 5 associates - most prominant spared.
  • Eliz. immense skill politically in how she balanced faction in her last years, recognised political ability and prepared to execute her favourite for treason. 
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see handout - slide 4 for table and handout on definitions of what finance things are.

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War Finance

  • 18 year war with spain
  • financial demands created problems - burden on tax payers on occasions created a split between the counties and the demands imposed by the p.c.
  • queen's prerogative questione with her right to purveyance and monopolies challenged by parliament and the people. 90s = inflation = difficult financially = resentment.
  • poor laws inadquate in stemming distress of the people in a period of famine and plague - also inflation. Contibuted to a degree of disorder and criticism.
  • Opposition resulting from demands of war created problems and possible a 'slide to disaster' - Jones. War weakened crown unavoidably but the decline in the queen's authority was minimal.
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How well did the government handle war finance?


  • up to 1585 continued north. and mary's policy of retrenchment. Court salaries held back and reconstruction of the financial admin. with the exchequer becoming the central treasury and its procedures being reformed. Coinage been restored 1560-1 which stablilsed prices for a time. Reserves built up to £270,000 by 1585. 
  • Crown lands so 1560-74 bringing in to help balance the budget. Increased rents - inflation
  • Customs yielded between £60-85,000 annually (Mary's revision of book of rates).
  • borrowed from abroad 1559-74 but during the war years only at home - forced loans. Burghley careful not to collect a lot of tax fro people so not to provoke rebellion. Lay and clerical tax was £115,000 combined at the end of her reign. 
  • Left james a debt of only just more than £350,000 - mary left 300 and she was only in power for 5 years and eliz = 45.
  • Cost of gov't shared with counties - local tax increase compensating for fall in national tax. People paid locally for poor relief, road repairs and militia. Local needs were met by people - recruitment, training and arming militia = expensive, supplied uniforms and arms and repaired coastal ports.
  • Crown demanding ship money - in time of urgency to defend coast.
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  • let revenue from taxes decline - Eliz wouldn't collect peace-time tax (rebellion fear). Subsidy bringing in £140,000 p/a at the start - £80,000 at the end despite inflation - abandoned wolsey's flexible rate subsidy based on people's ablility to pay. Assessment for tax = static and gentry underassessed themselves - JPs. BUT 1/4 of gov't expensses = out of tax (should've been ordinary revenue) - finances handled astutely. 
  • Widespread evasion of tax - even Burghley. PERK OF WORKING FOR GOV'T. No. of subsides increasing during war - more taxes put on people due to inflation.
  • Anything to be done about falling reciepts = initiative to come from gov't but eliz. resisted now tax and stuck to precedent - fallacy that the war paid for itself - fear of rebellion, wouldn't raise.
    Tried to finance by selling crown lands - in long-term reduced regular crown income but it was a war time necessity. 
  • Ship money - only for coastal areas, meant to be at time of risk only. emande from inland areas = discontent. 
  • Royal prerogative - purveyance = resentment. To save money/war finance. 
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  • Cut back severely. Where possible = unpaid officials such as JPs or rewarded courtiers by given them monopoly rights/wardships - didn't involve financial outlay. Achievement on surface but looked for ways of making money - selling job/title - corrupt - bad practice but perks of the office. 
  • Few salaried officials but salaries = low and didn't keep inflation pace. Job in gov't = status and getting money themselves.
  • Strictly monitored courts of household (no royal palaces built and annual maintainance costs halved).
  • Naval expenses minimal e.g. remodelling old ships rather than buying new.
  • BUT after 1573 = considerable amount spend on navy. BUT tried to avoid for as long as possible any overseas military committments that would cripple royal finances.
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  • Since the queen and the p.c. took every decision on expenditure, no matter how small, they were in requent contant with the exchequer. Looking at finance carefully = less corruption/mismanagement. 
  • Crown responsible for appointing the most important officers, who generally came from the gentry or merchant classes and from among the many MPs and JPs - efficiency - professional staff.
  • Exchequer divided into depts - head of these depts who were the real financial experts who passed information directly to the council. 
  • BUT 1572 - Burghley control of finance = less effective as he kept old methods - not innovative and no new systems put in place.
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Payment of officials

  • Payment didn't go up (on surface - corruption).
  • BUT didn't increase with inflation, unpaid = selling position in gov't for status, reliance on monopolies = bad financial system as led to inflation.
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Role of Lord Treasurer

  • Modernising exchequer and making it more efficient, revaluing crown lands so rents and entry fines could be increased and raising customs duties.
  • Balanced accounts - expenditure not exceeding income = called in debts owed to crown to raise income and keep costs down.
  • Modernising exchequer, revaluing crown lands, raising customs duties, balancing accounts = didn't exceed income by 1572.
  • BUT Cecil 1572 - no change, same drive for economy. Not same degree of vision/creativity.
    Pressure of Sp. war = less success under cecil = no innovation. 
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Ordinary revenue

  • Reduced expenditure and increased income.
  • Joint stock companies = decreased expenditure BUT Eliz lost authority e.g. Essex, Drake and Morris.


  • gov't didn't respond quickly enough to inflation - income fell behind in a time of rising prices. 
  • customs duties not realigned for inflation.
  • profits from feudal dues decline unil cecil took over court of wards 1599.
  • crown land rents increase slightly and reduced in long term by sale.
  • some revenue not to exchequer at all - eliz. rewarded her favourites by allowing them to use revenues from their offices. 
  • had to be supplemented by tax.
  • crown's financial resources same: no addition but not exploited existing - no new methods, no innovation.
  • enterprising landowners using inflation to their advantage - eliz. could've done more.
  • ordinary revenue allowed to stagnate. 
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Parliamentary taxation

  • essential for ordinary running of gov;t, acceptance of a modern system of finance.
  • subsidy tax (even in peacetime) for country's defence - war with sp. BUT eliz. determined not to run up large debts for her military decisions - preferred to send fleets into atlantic than launch massive campaign. 
  • BUT value of each subsidy tax fell in reign - gov't made no attempt to improve collection (based on own assessment - corruption, rich under paying) - fear of losing support of the politically active classes (tax evasion - people avoiding paying it). Failed to institute an efficient record system, bring  tax in line with inflation or impose t on all eligible to pay.

look at source bits if want histography.

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Local government - structural changes

  • 'slide to disaster' - m.c. JPs became alienated from central government in eliz. last years.
  • JPs = backbone of local gov't, unpaid and so semi-indep. local officials - this had been the case through out the tudor century. Responsible for law and order even if at times they supported resistance to gov't demands of men and money.
  • County gov't strengthened in 1585 - lord lieutenants made permanent and responsible for recruitment and order locally (involved assembling, inspecting and training the local militia, their admin. duties were assessing and collecting loans, supervising recusants and overseeing the enforcement of economic leg.) - direct result of the law. Work done by 2/3 deputies as most were p.c and so too busy for local affairs. Deputies would be locals and were p.c. links with the localities. Made a 'slide to disaster' unlikely. 60-90% of courtiers and members of the household were also mps and jps. Overlap = court and county same people in eliz. england and so tudor gov't = strong as centre knew the localities feelings of how the country was being run. 
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local government - local opposition due to war

  • 106,000 men forced into service overseas in the neth,, fr., portugal and ireland during eliz. 18 years of war. Mostly the poor, criminals, vagrants - attempts to sent trained bands resisted by landowning JPs (quality lack) - recruitment for ire was most resented - nearly a mutiny by kent cavalrymen at chester 1601. 
  • 1590s overseas service costing £2000 p/a per county. Sussex and Norfolk refused to pay 1596 - london refused to pay ship money and militia rates. 
  • Financial pressure - greatest on coast and resistance from South and East - expected though due to length of war, break down of trade, plague, bad harvests and high inflation.
  • 'slide to disaster' not proven - 1598-1601 = local resis. to central demands of remaining largely passive. 'county' resistance to 'court' demands exceptional - gentry needed friends at court and courtiers needed local backing. Channels of comm. was strength of tudor gov't = no possibility of civil war despite long war.
  • 1590s = serious resistance in the counties - Suffolk and Wiltshire and ship money, led by depty LLs and JPs, reflecting local interests against LL = loyal to crown interests. Highlight lack of effective control of centre over localities. London were also annoyed with ship money.
    1598 if JPs and LLs united and refused to cooperate with p.c. = LL called up to their court connections to escape punishment = nothing could be done about it. 
  • In the last resort crown = little control over local gov't but always been the case. Also resistance due to war was not lasting - shaky authority in areas but on whole stayed in place.
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Corruption in gov't - wide spread? (90s+ = inflati

  • resulted from the sale of offices and stemmed from the war when the gov't couldn't afford patronage, increasing tolerance of dishonesty in the 90s.
  • not poverty which caused it - resulted from office holder using his position for profit to recover the initial cost of buying the office and also making profit - public interest < personal gain.
  • queen didn't encourage it. 1552 act - outlawed the sale of offices which had attacked royal prerogative. Crown didn't gain sale of offices but individual did. PCs and courtiers were paid to influence queen in her choice in candidates for jobs.
  • Shocking corruption in exchequer - officials kept treasury cash at home to stop stealing. Having 'borrowed' the money - invest it or lent it out to make profit for themselves. 1571 scandal - tellers failed in their vestments and couldn't repay £44,000 to crown BUT during war money not there for the tellers to steal - gov't using it. BUT corruption happened without war.
  • Widespread misappropriation of gov't funds but almost accepted as a perk of office. Even Burghley - court of wards master.
  • Thomas Shirley - war treasurer, accused in 93 of pocketing £30,000 p/a of funds allocated to Neth. - stealing. 
  • Robert Cecil - pocketing at every opportunity. Fortune was much larger than his fathers - 5 houses. No evidence that Burghley allowed his judgement to be influenced by gain but did back his son for high office.
  • Deterioration of public morality in 90s and early 00s - part of an ongoing and almost accepted practice though.
  • Corruption on judical system was small scale.
  • Wolsey's emphasis in 1516 on law enforcement and impartial justice was released in the star chamber as a central criminal court after 1560 - punished purgery, corruption and malteasance (official misconduct).
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  • Right of the crown to buy provisions for the royal household at between 1/2 and 1/3 of market price. 
  • Caused resentment - purveyors could order compulsory purchase of food stuffs. Often corrupt and used in the system to make profit when sold food.
  • Queen's prerogative right to it challenged - 1589 parliament - financial demands on people high during time of war, purveyance worth £37,000 p/a to eliz. so she couldn't afford to lose it.
  • Many abuses of system removed in Mary's reign when an issue - not a new problem.
  • 1580s eliz. tried to sort it by allowing counties to negotiate fixed quotes of food at a set price which did away with the use of purveyors - no more trouble from parliament over it until james VI - continuous issue. 
  • Accepted it - was eliz. losing authority?
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  • 1597 and 1601 - parliament clas - ugliest seen in tudor period, considered abuses and resented. Opposition blew up in the war years when increased financial demands.
  • Granted/sold by crown - gave patentee sole right to manufacture, buy or sell products. Bought them at great profits  (rewards to courtiers and gov't officials - naturally protected by PC and star chamber as they were patentees too) - resulted in increased prices and exploitation of trades men. Some monopolies owners = breaking statute law. LEGALITY QUESTIONED.
  • Marked increase in no. in eliz. last years in return for service to crown. 1597 promised reform and instead sold more - hit people hard as harvest failure, plague and unemployment. Provoked a minor constitutional crisis in 1609 and parliament most fractious - possibly due to cecil's mismanagement. 
  • Over half mps (most in 1597 parliament) = lawyers = aware illegal as over-rode statute law.
  • Decided to legislate to remove abuses of monopolies without queen's consent - breach of her prerogative. 1597 - she promised they could do this if she didn't herself. Eventhough parliament had the power to challenge her it had not happened before - only really stressing strains of war finances, no intent to limit eliz. power and authority just to reform abuses of system. 
  • 1597 - eliz. bowed to pressure - wanted the subsidy bill passed for war. Issued a proclamation withdrawing 12 monopolies condemned by parliament and those discontented with others could take their case to court. PC no longer protected patentees. BUT 1602 - PC approved Darcy's monopoly - playing cards and imprisoned his opponents - still happened. 
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The Poor Law

  • causes of poverty - real wages for labouring poor lower than a century earlier, wage rates constantly falling behind rises in prices. Harvest failures = food shortages esp. in mid-50s and mid-90s. Old and infirm suffered particularly badly. 
  • 'Deserving poor' - entitled to limited assistance to alleviate their condition (widows/old/disabled) and 'undeserving poor' - entitled to be punished.
  • The deserving poor - ensured a minimum level of subsistance for deserving poor until 1834. Poor Law Act 1572 - local ratepayers required to pay a rate for relief of their own poor. Poor Law Act 1576 - attempt to create a national system of poor relief to be financed and adminstered locally. Towns required to make provision for the employment of deserving poor. Poor Law Acts 1597 and 1601 - parish designated as the institution required to administer and raise the rates for poor relief. Each parish to appoint an overseer of the poor who was to ensure both the efficient collection and distribution of poor rates/relief to the poor.
  • The undeserving poor - remained harsh, extremely repressive and ultimately unforceable act against vagrency passed 1547. Although quickly repealled, the governing consumption of action against the deserving poor was that they should be whipped, while and act of 1572 added branding to the range of punishments available to the authorities. 1597 panic = act which laid down that 1st time offenders would be whipped and sent back to the parish of their birth - repeated = executed. 

    see handout 'to what extent did the poor threaten or weaken eliz. authority in her last years' 

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