Elizabeth & Religion

  • Created by: NHow02
  • Created on: 10-04-19 11:42

1. Mary, Queen of Scots


- Mary was a direct threat to Elizabeth's rule (Mary's marriage to the French dauphin + alliance with Catholic Scotland posed a religious alternative, especially to the Catholic majority)

- triggered the Northern rebellion in 1569, which conspired to marry her to Norfolk (amassed 3,800 foot soldiers + 1600 horsemen & executed 450 rebels + issued penal laws)

- Ridolfi Plot in 1571 reintroduced the threat of Norflok's marriage to Mary (financed with £600 by France + Ridolfi acted as an intermediary between Mary & Spain)

Not a Threat:

- Threat of Norfolk eventually removed after his death in 1572 (secretaries confessed)

- Mary signed her name on the Bond of Association after the Throckmorton Plot in 1583 (agreeing to her own execution if she attempted to remove Elizabeth)

- Mary was imprisoned in England for 19 years, showing Elizabeth's reluctance to be responsible for her death (however, she finally signed her death warrant in 1587)

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2. Serious Catholic Threat


- Elizabeth retained many prominent Catholics in the House of Lords (meaning her legislation met opposition within her own government)

- Elizabeth was Excommunicated by the Pope in 1570 (Papal Bull permitted loyal Catholics to reject Elizabeth's authority)                                                                                            1. Cuthbert Mayne executed + martyred in 1577 (threat not imagined)

Seminary Priests & Jesuits:

- 100 Seminary priests arrived in 1580 + trained in effective preaching (In 1577, Bishops ordered to provide the number of recusants in their dioceses - struggling to control numbers)

- Allen's Jesuit revolt coincided with the Throckmorton Plot in 1583 - a possible catholic invasion (leading to the expulsion of Catholic priests in 1585)                                        1. 31 priests executed in 1588

- 1593, large gatherings of Catholics made illegal - restricted to remain within 5 miles of their homes (suggests the Catholic threat was not resolved by Catholic penalties in 1587)

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3. Minor Catholic Opposition

- Parry Plot, 1585 - plotting Elizabeth's assassination as a converted double agent to the Catholic cause (arguably a ploy to remove Parry by Walsingham/Burghley)            1. no foreign support and did not involve Mary, Queen of Scots


- despite being Excommunicated, Elizabeth still vetoed Bishop Sandy's Bill in 1581 to increase penalties against recusants (most favoured loyalty to the Tudor dynasty + landowner's preferred self-preservation)                                                           1. the death penalty for saying Mass in 1571 no longer a 1st Offence

Seminary Priests & Jesuits:

- In 1577, Bishops ordered to provide the number of recusants in their dioceses (suggesting ELizabeth had no real idea of the reality of the recusant threat)

    1. by mid 1570's the Catholic threat declined + attempted to appease them               2. executions of priests increased from 4 in 1581 to 11 in 1582 (though still low)

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1. Lax Enforcement

Vestments Controversy:

- Elizabeth responded to the 1563 Convocation in 1565 (placing more pressure on Parker to enforce Uniformity by making her displeasures public + threatened deprivation of livings)

- Archbishop Parker played for time (setting up an inquiry into a lack of Uniformity but really sympathised with those who refused to abide by the clerical dresscode)

- Advertisments of 1566 was designed to enforce Uniformity + dresscode                   1. limited effect as no Puritan Bishops resigned and only 37 were deprived.                  2. Earl of Huntington protected Bishop Sampson + provided clerical posts


- Archbishop Grindal (appointed 1575) encouraged Prophesysings + lax about enforcing conformity (suspended in 1577 - Queen believed 3/4 preachers per county was sufficient)

- consequently the drive against Presbyterianism resumed (however, courtiers frustrated attempts of Bishop Freke to suspend presbyterians).                                                    1. Leicester Knolleys secured a preaching license for John Field

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2. Significant Puritan Threat

- the 1580's saw organised secret meetings of the local clergy (coordinated by John Field + directly challenged Queen's supremecy in church affairs)

- Deprived clergy appealed to leading Protestant theologians in Europe (fortunately, Henrich Bullinger of Zurich refused in fear of hindering England's Protestant reform)


- Cartright's dismissal in 1572 led to his 'martydom' as he was seen as a spiritual leader + led to Goodman's publication of 'Two Admissions to the Parliament' (a continuation of Field & Wilcox's attack on Catholic practices + Prayer Book)

Courtiers frustrated attempts of Bishop Freke to suspend presbyterians:                                1. Leicester Knolleys secured a preaching license for John Field


- In the 1570's, Parliament became a plaform for increasingly vocal Puritans (Marian exiles were at odds with Elizabeth's 1563 39 Articles)

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3. Insignificant Threat

Elizabeth displayed her willingness to enforce her religious settlement...


- In 1587, Cope & Wentworth put forward Turner's Genevan prayer book + presbyterian system (Privy Council ensured that the Bill was dismissed & both men sent to the Tower of London)


Collinson & Craig suggest the Dedham classis were relatively minor (Presbyterian movement more significant in Warwickshire & Northhamptonshire)


1589 - Marprelate Tracts were a last desperate attempt to reassert Puritanism          1. numerous pamphlets issued by the church to refute allegations                                 2. late 1580's - church developed more sophisticated episcopal argument.            3. the death of John Field in 1589 helped to lessen opposition to the Church

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1. Balanced Response

- Act of Uniformity in 1559 (rules of worship clarified by 39 Articles in 1563)

1. Church with a Protestant doctrine which also retained the traditional Catholic structure

2. Elizabeth could reap the benefit the benefit of politically active Protestants returning from exile while also avoiding foreign challanges by retaining an outward Catholic appearance

- Elizabeth entertained both Conservatives (Thomas Howard & Marquis of Winchester) & Protestants at court (Leicester & Cecil)

- Elizabeth was reluctant to be presented as a Protestant Symbol (only agreeing support for Dutch rebels in 1585)

- defeat of Armada in 1588 encouraged propaganda for Elizabeth's Golden Age (Elizabeth was cast as the restorer of religion by the Cult of Gloriana)

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2. Catholic Opposition


- triggered the Northern rebellion in 1569, which conspired to marry her to Norfolk (amassed 3,800 foot soldiers + 1600 horsemen & executed 450 rebels + issued penal laws)   1. led by Northumberland & Westmorland (magnates with weakened hold on the north)


- 1585 Pen Law saw 123 priests executed from 1586-1603)

- despite harsh laws, the Catholic threat was more imagined than real (in 1577, Bishops were ordered to provide the number of recusants in their dioceses)    1. suggesting Elizabeth was unsure of their numbers + too harsh on Catholics

- Elizabeth vetoed Bishop Sandy's Bill in 1571 to increase penalties upon Catholics (Catholic threat began to decline in the 1570's)                                                         1. saying Mass resulted in a fine + 1 year in prison (no death penalty for 1st offence)

Majority of people in England continued to attend Church (recusancy was a minority issue)

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3. Puritan Opposition

Lax Enforcement:

- Archbishop Parker played for time (despite Elizabeth responding to the 1563 Covocation 1565 by making her displeasure public)

Advertisments of 1566 was designed to enforce Uniformity + dresscode                   1. limited effect as no Puritan Bishops resigned and only 37 were deprived.                  2. Earl of Huntington protected Bishop Sampson + provided clerical posts

Archbishop Grindal (appointed 1575) encouraged Prophesysings + lax about enforcing conformity (suspended in 1577 - Queen believed 3/4 preachers per county was sufficient)

Separatism (Queen's settlement was a lesser extreme):

1589 - Marprelate Tracts were a last desperate attempt to reassert Puritanism          1. numerous pamphlets issued by the church to refute allegations                                 2. late 1580's - church developed more sophisticated episcopal argument.            3. the death of John Field in 1589 helped to lessen opposition to the Church

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