Tudor Government: Elizabeth I up untill 1566

An overview of government in up until 1566.

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The monarch as governor

  • Her court was glorious as with her predecessors, but hers was smaller out of financial necessity.
  • Elizabeth had a large capacity for work, was involved in the smallest details of government. She had considerable knowledge of every issue. Sound political government and unbending will. However, she could be unreasonable, self centred, obstinate and someties too cautious.
  • She wouldn't name a sucessor, though she favoured lady jane grey's sister catherine.
  • Inevitabilty of her marriage was initially taken for granted, but she would not marry; she could not marry a foreigner, for fear of losing control to outside powers, but an englishman would provoke jealousy.
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Privy Council, Ministers, Faction

  • E wanted her privy council to be a smaller, working body, and to be proffessional andcompetitive.
  • Paget was dismissed, replaced by cecil
  • Strong catholics omitted
  • E's council was very much her own creation.
  • Cecil
  • from 1550 he was a surveyor of e's estates, 1550-53 was N's secratary of state, 1558 secretary of state.
  • Dudley was Cecil's biggest rival, Dudley was an uncautious radical and cecil was a moderate prod. he queen was infatuated with him, D was v ambitious.
  • Cecil spread rumours that D was plotting his wife's death. Also it was made public that it was D's idea to restore catholicism in order to gain philip's support(1561) This would create public outcry.
  • Elizabeth never gave exclusive power to any individual or group and sought to resolve differences between rivals. Conflict strenghthened her, allowing her to dominate.
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  • Loyal and reliable men placed in sensitive positions
  • reeipt of favour created loyalty
  • men were incapable of political unity against her.


  • 'sinecures' positions with no duties attatched-waste of money
  • some neglected their duties or delegated
  • frequently, ability failed to secure appointments-detriment of royal admin.

1560s rivalry in council: Leicester provoked resentment in trying to monopolise royal patronage. The followers of Leicester and norfolk came near to violence in 1565-66 and led to bitter rivalry throughout the 60s.

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Governing the Provinces

The Sherrif's role was in decline, to be replaced by Lord-Lieutenant

The post of deputy Lieutenant was created in the 60s

The role of the JP continued to expand.

The oath to the royal supremacy was imposed by royal commissions.

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  • Building was limited, bureaucracy was not permitted to expand, official salaries frozen at low levels, household reduced, pensions were less freely given. For most of her reign E avoided war.
  • ordinary revenue produced disapointing yields. inflation was up 75% but revenue from lands rose by only 25% and customs revenue barely rose at all. Nor were rents raised sufficiently.
  • there were problems administering parliamentary taxation because;
    • collectors often negligent
    • records of ownership out of date
    • people lied about their income
  • Elizabeth and her ministers have been critisised regardingfinances because they allowed the financial position of the crown to weaken, and they did not make necessary reforms.
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parliament's opposition to elizabeth

  • When E became queen, parliament was emerging from a 25yr period in which it had taken loads of responsibilty.Parliament was getting stronger, than it's partner the monarch, as the monarch often was forced to listen to grievances out of need for money.
  • This did not mean however, that by 1558 parliament had become an integral part of government.
  • It was still the monarch who decided when and how long to meet

Neale's view: The power of the HoC increased, this can be seen in the puritan choir who opposed her religious changes and deliberately planned confrontations

Elton's(revisionist) view:parliament dealt mostly with routine admin required to vote subsidies, debate and pass public bill. There were heated debates but this was the way parliaments normally functioned.. Overall, the parliament worked in harmony with government.

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Sucess as a woman in a man's world

strong monarch who knew her own mind

unerstood her gov and controlled her council

diplomatic and acceptable religious/foreign policies.

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