Overall Assessment of Elizabeth's reign


Christopher Haigh - "Thirty years of success followed by fifteen years of failure". 1558-1588 = Good 1588-1603=bad

  • Privy Council 
    • Her Privy Council was very succesful in the early years eg William Cecil enjoyed success in regard to Scotland and France with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560. There were factional rivalries in this period, notably during Cecil and Robert Dudley in regard to issues such as marriage, but there were also examples of co-operation for instance in 1586, the Council was united in the desire to have Mary Queen of Scots executed. 
    • Faction was evident in the Privy Council but it kept under control during the early stages of the reign; though the rivalries erupted in the 1590's culminating in the 1601 Essex rebellion, where Robert Deverux, the Earl of Essex, a member of the PC and once Elizabeth's most loyal aid, led a coup against her.
    • The inadequacy of the Earl of Essex was also evident in the English campaign in Ireland during the Tyrone Rebellion. Devereux fought a series of inconclusive engagements, wasted his funds and dispersed his army of 17,300 men into garrisons - all weakening the war effort.
    • Counter Argument=
      • HOWEVER faction damaged the effectiveness of Elizabeth's PC in her early years. For instance, the dispute between William Cecil and Robert Dudley in regard to intervention in the Netherland's waged 7 years.
  • Foreign Policy
    • RB WIlson argues that Elizabeth had a clear set of objectives - one of which was to avoid war - achieved much success in early years with the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559 which ended the Italian Wars of 1551-59, and the Treaty of Blois signed in 1572, in the words of RB Wenham gave Elizabeth "a French shield" against her rival Philip II of Spain. David Loades agrees saying her policy was always defensive.
    • By 1585, the Anglo-Spanish war had begun - began with England's military expedition in 1585 to the Netherlands under the command of the Earl of Leicester in support of the resistance of the States General to Habsburg rule. This resulted in a Spanish fleet of 130 ships and 18,000 soldiers travelling across the English channel with the intention of invading England and usurping Elizabeth.
      • Counter Argument=
      • HOWEVER England was ultimately succesful with the Spanish Armada.  Only 67 Spanish ships out of 130 returned to Spain. Over 20,000 Spanish sailors and soldiers were killed. Throughout the whole campaign, the English lost no ships and only 100 men in battle. The Armada seemed to have been an overwhelming success for England. 
        • Counter Argument=
        • C. Haigh underplays the victory of the Armada. Spain still was a force to be reckoned with and there was still Spanish in Netherlands and still a risk of invasion.
    • Another main aim of Elizabeth's was for the Netherlands to be self-autonomous. Netherlands had financial and strategic importance to England - Antwerp was at the epicentre of the cloth trade in Europe which was important as 78% of all English exports were cloth. Furthermore there


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