Roman Catholic Threat

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Introduction

- There is much historical debate about the extent to which catholicism posed a significant threat to Elizabeth in the period 1570-1603.

-It is thought that Elizabeth’s religious settlement was not motivated by her own personal views

   A.F POLLARD, "Indifferent to religion"

   HAIGH, "Sincere and committed protestant"

-because she was influenced by her mother Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr, as well as Roger Ascham who educated her.

-Elizabeth inevitably faced the pressures of being a female monarch, therefore she sought a via media between the two religions for political diplomacy to ensure peace and stability in England.

-also had to take into account the threat of a foreigh invasion, from the likes of strong and infuential Spain. -(Catholic)

        -Eliz. expected opposition from the R.C world, in their eyes she was now a heretic

-at the beginning of the reign most people were still R.C as evidenced by EAMON DUFFY in his study of wills showing that R.C beliefs were held by large portions of the population and certainly many did not believe the new church would last.

-where the Catholic threat differed from puritanism, according to AGR SMITH, was that it came from outside the church and partly from outside the country.

        -he also believes that the threat was at its greatest at the beginning of Eliz.'s reign.

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Up to 1568

-there were a number of measures to ensure people conform to the new settlement,

1. THE ACT OF SUPREMACY, all clergy had to take the Oath of Supremacy, recognising Elizabeth as Supreme Governor.

2. ACT OF UNIFORMITY, this placed a fine on anyone who failed to attend church on a sunday or even holy days.

If these acts were disobeyed, penelties included loss of land/income and then imprisonment or even exectution. 

This may seem unduly harsh but it was not seen this way by contemporaries, particularly following the reign of 'bloody mary' and these penalties were not strictly enforced.

-there was a mixed reation to Elizabeths church settlement.

AGR SMITH states, "Catholics maintained that the new English Church was a mere political creation.."

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Political Threat

At first political threat centred around several plots which aimed to remove and replace Eliz. as Queen with Mary.

-the ridolfi plot 1571, this was a planned rising of English Catholics

Supported by the Duke of Avla's troops based in the Netherlands

Aimed to depose of Elizabeth and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne

March 1572, the Spanish ambassador was expelled

-throckmorton plot, involved planned invasions of England from Scotland and the Netherlands

included attempts to establish Mary on the throne

-babington plot, Anthony Babington planned to murder Elizabeth and free Mary from house arrest

-spanish Armada was another planned invasion of England from the netherlands

Phillip saw the attack as a crusade and his main aim was to restore catholicism in England

Catholic gentry and and nobility showed their loyalty to the queen throughout this

-Mary Queen of Scots was executed after being implicated in the Babington plot, she got involved because she believed Elizabeth was a heretic and needed removed.

-AGR Smith writes that political challenges "involved only a tiny minority of fanatics at home or assualts on England from abroad..(they) were regarded with horror or distaste by most of the English Catholic laity."

This proves there was support for Elizabeth, despite the religious differences between the people.

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Political Threat 2

-spanish Armada was another planned invasion of England from the netherlands

Phillip saw the attack as a crusade and his main aim was to restore catholicism in England

Catholic gentry and and nobility showed their loyalty to the queen throughout this

-Mary Queen of Scots was executed after being implicated in the Babington plot, she got involved because she believed Elizabeth was a heretic and needed removed.

-AGR Smith writes that political challenges "involved only a tiny minority of fanatics at home or assualts on England from abroad..(they) were regarded with horror or distaste by most of the English Catholic laity."

This proves there was support for Elizabeth, despite the religious differences between the people.

-RESPONSE:

Murphy, government forced into harsher policy towards catholics

1571 government made it a treasonable offence to bring papal bulls in England

1571 approved 39 articles- further reform approved by parliament

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Introduction 2

-at the beginning of the reign most people were still R.C as evidenced by EAMON DUFFY in his study of wills showing that R.C beliefs were held by large portions of the population and certainly many did not believe the new church would last.

-where the Catholic threat differed from puritanism, according to AGR SMITH, was that it came from outside the church and partly from outside the country.

        -he also believes that the threat was at its greatest at the beginning of Eliz.'s reign.

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Up to 1568 2

In society, it was the educated who were hostile towards the E.C.S.

Peasants and lower classes generally conformed to religious change and did not question it.

-opposition first came from the house of lords, although it was no real threat as there was a lack of formal leadership and no energetic persecution to provoke unrest. 

A large number of people drifted back into the established church.

Others recognised Elizabeth as the legitimate heir to the throne.

HAIGH, Catholics were "confused"- "the pope had failed to make clear to the English Catholics were their duty lay."

-Mary Queen of Scots arrival in England was significant

She was a Catholic Monarch, who Eliz. feared would lead a rebellion against her R.S.

Thought to be the trigger of the Revolt of the Northern Earls.

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Up to 1568 3

ANTHONY FLETCHER AND DIARMAID MaCULLOCH said there was a strong catholic influence in the people who launched the revolt.

FLETCHER believes "the case of catholicism proved inadequate to sustain the rising that followed."

LAWERNCE STONE, said the revolt was political.

-excommunication 1570, when the Pope realised a full restoration to Catholicism in England was not going to occour

Encouraged R.C to take up arms against Eliz.

Was not issued until after the defeat of the rebellion.

Support for the bull was minimal in England, rather it stirred up anti-catholic sentiments

AG DICKENS AND GR ELTON, majority of English welcomed new protestant national church and were ready to become loyal anglicans.

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Religious Threat

-missionary priests arrived in 1574 from Douai in the Netherlands

from a seminary founded by William Allen (an english R.C exhile)

they aimed to bring 'spiritual guidance and comfort to their fellow english men"

AGR SMITH: they were prepared to face martyrdom to fulfil this

they were unlike the jesuit priests who arrived in England in 1580 looking for a full restoration of catholicism

Father Campion and Father Parsons were leading examples of jesuits who came to England

AGR SMITH, explains that the vast number of converts as a result of jesuit's arrival was "alarming to the government"

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Religious Threat 2

-open split in the 1590's, arguably their biggest challenge because it brought about their own demise

was between those who refused to consider compromise and those who would not

-recusancy records indicate that many in the north of England who had catholic sympathies conformed nonetheless by attending church services-even if it was with little enthusiasm

the conservative north was where missionary priests did most of their work because the government's penal measures where strongest here, compared with London

-in contrast their is evidence that the numberof catholics feel in the east and the south in the later part of the reign

S. DORAN, "catholics drifted into conformity" for fear

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Religious Threat 3

REACTION:

treasonable offence to bring papal bulls into England

1585, priests could be condemned to death for being a priest

180 catholics(of which 120 were priests) executed for treason between 1581 and 1603

offence to leave England for longer than 6 months without permission- could result in a loss of land

R.C's believed they were being persecuted for their faith, however government propagandists insisted they were executed because they were a political threat

-R.C gentry

while the missionary priests played a fundimental role in the Catholic revival in the later years of Eliz.'s reign, this was not neccessarily the case for the rest of the population.

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Religious Threat 4

AGR SMITHdescribes them as "a small minority in an essentially protestant England which would remain committed to the reformed faith."

JOHN BOSSY explains the difference between the two groups and their different outlooks is a result of difference in backround of the Catholic gentry and the missionary priests

catholicism depened on members of the aristocracy practicising it in their own homes in the early part of Eliz.'s reign

however there was regional variation, was strongest in N.England near catholic scotland and furthest from the protestant influence of Europe

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Religious Threat 5

-views of missionary priests led to a split in 1590's

catholic gentry ensured the survival of catholicism up until 1570's but after this it was the seminary priests responsible

HAIGHbelieved they focused too much of their efforts on south and east of England where catholicism was weak , they also minister too much to the gentry and not the lower ends of society who were indifferent to religion- if this had been different HAIGH believes there would have been a larger number of catholics

JOHN BOSSY, feels by the end of the reign it was a small distinctive minority concentrated around gentry sympathisers

if there had been more engagement with the lower orders of society, more catholics would have been caught, resulting in a collapse of the whole mission- for this reason it was puropsely kept exclusive

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Conclusion

-by 1590 the government had little chance in extinguishing catholicism but catholics also had little chance of restoring it

all catholic laity were loyal to the queen and wanted to practice their religion quietly

there were some priests, esp. jesuits who believed they should help foreign powers to overthrow Eliz. and invade England

appellants felt it was necessary to work with the government and reach an agreement so they could freely exercise their responsibilities if they denied papal authority over Eliz.-the government agreed to this in 1602

this meant if they swore allegiance to the queen they could stay, but the jesuits had to leave

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