Neale thesis

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Neale's Theory

  • The puritan choir- this was a group of puritan MPs which Neale identified as working together in an attempt to force Elizabeth to adopt policies and to strengthen the rights of Parliament - this choir forced Elizabeth to adopt a more Protestant Settlement. 
  • He was able to identify numerous occasions of conflict - involving areas of religion foreign policy, the succession and marriage. The choir was known for stirring up trouble in 1563&66 over the Queens failure to marry or to name a successor, as well as agitating for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk and campaigning to reform the COE
  • Redress of grievances- 1566 the Commons attempted to postpone agreeing to the Queen's request for money until she ha satisfied their grievances. 
  • Wentworth's speech criticising Elizabeth's policies and calling for freedom of speech is evidence of parliamentary opposition. 
  • As far as Neale was concerned there could hardly be clearer evidence of the struggle for power between the monarch and parliaments lower house. 

 

  • 'Transform the House of Commons'
  • 'exploit the opportunities opened by Henry VIII's indulgent policy'
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Opposing Views

  • It became firmly established that Neale's Puritans choir was a figment of the imagination, based on a misunderstanding of the central piece of evidence. Some members of Neale's puritan choir were in fact the followers of members or the Privy Council.  In fact some of the individuals identified by Neale as members of the so called “Puritan Choir” were not even puritans. 
  • The argument that the councillors influenced the MPs, in order to push their views forward. Parliament was being used by the ministers as an additional lever in their attempts to persuade their mistress to take action where she was proving reluctant to do so.
  • There is no doubt that from time to time there was considerable discontent between the Queen and Parliament. The main opposition was over Elizabeth was over Elizabeths over her prerogative rights. Graves has demostrated beyond question that Elizabeth's parliaments never sared to challenger her royal prerogatives.
  • Elton has been able to establish that the norm was coorperation between the Crown and Commons, that the House of Lords was of much greater importance than Neale thouht and that the attempts made by the Commons were knee-jerk responses by MPs who were temporarily stung into action by being bought face to face with the inferiority of their position.
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Basic points

Support Neale -

  • quite a few puritans in Parliament who put pressure on the Queen
  • they also tried to gain more parliamentary rights such as freedom of speech.
  • there were also instances of redress of grievances
  • there were more MPs with training in law and they were growing in confidence

Against Neale -

  • calls for freedom of speech were rare 
  • there were no real cases of redress of grievances 
  • By and large parliaments were cooperative on most issues
  • Parliament was loyal to the Queen
  • Neale had more evidence for Elizabeth reign cause it was so long, there would have been conflicts in other reigns
  • Any discussions etc that there was, was just part of the debating process
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