Elizabeth’s Reign (15 58-15 66)
Situation in 15 58
• When Elizabeth became Queen in 15 58, it was widely expected that she would change the nation’s religion from the Roman Catholicism of her sister’s reign. In addition, Elizabeth did not want to be associated with Mary’s legacy. The restoration of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the Pope were too closely associated in the minds of the English with the persecution of heretics, an unpopular Spanish consort and the loss of Calais. There was much to be gained from embarking on a new policy that would signal a break with the immediate past and enable Elizabeth to emerge as the architect of, and inspiration form, a new order.
• For Mary, religious settlement had been a straightforward issue: she had imposed her own faith on her subjects. The answer for Elizabeth, who was far more aware of the political complexities of the situation, was less clear. She was Protestant, but realised that the religious choices she made would have important consequences at home and abroad. First, religious changes had caused rebellions in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI and a policy of repression during the reign of Mary. Second, the issue of religion was tied closely to the question of Elizabeth’s marriage as it would determine the suitability or otherwise of potential candidates. Third, it would affect relations with foreign powers and in early 15 59 England was still allied too Catholic Spain in a war against Scotland and France.
Religious Change, 15 58-15 66
• Parliament met in 1559 and bills were introduced to restore the royal supremacy and re-establish Protestantism
• An Act of Supremacy is passed in 15 59 which makes Elizabeth Supreme Governor of the Church in England
• The Act of Uniformity is passed in 15 59, reviving all legislation which was repealed during the reign of Mary, including the Heresy Acts and the Papal supremacy, enforced a new Prayer Book (with punishments for those who refused to use it), made attendance at church compulsory (punishable with fines), and allowed for vestments and church ornamentation (in line with the 15 49 prayer book)
• In 15 59, Cecil’s Royal Injunctions ordered the clergy to condemn relics, images and miracles, have a licence in order to preach and marry only with permission. Commissioners were sent out to…