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Elizabeth Is success in establishing herself as Queen was due above all to the stable political and religious situation she inherited from Mary I. With reference to the years 1553-1566, assess the validity of this view.

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Introduction

Elizabeth I's success in establishing herself as Queen was due above all to the stable political and religious situation she inherited from Mary I. With reference to the years 1553-1566, assess the validity of this view. Traditionally, the period between Henry VIII and Elizabeth I has been described as a Mid-Tudor Crisis, in which the minority government of Edward and the 'sterile' reign of Mary witnessed what Whitney Jones argues as a series of 'crises; economic, administrative, and religious'. It therefore cannot be argued that Elizabeth inherited a stable realm, despite recent historians revisiting the reign of Mary and claiming Protestant propaganda clouded it. As a result, it is Elizabeth's own political skill which ultimately allows her to successfully establish herself as Queen of England and implement her own policy decisions - including the reversal of the Catholic religious settlement. Religious instability under Mary comes as no surprise, as her fervent Catholicism would most certainly have been unable to tolerate the 'heretical' Protestantism for long. Her swift removal of Protestant clergy under Edward, despite having few catholic priests to replace them with, proves how strongly Mary believed Catholicism was the only truth. Dickens argues that attempting to restore Catholicism was an impossible task 'no matter how long she reigned'. Yet Mary herself underestimates the Protestant resistance and like her Privy Councilors, assumed that the majority of her subjects would voluntarily convert back to Roman Catholicism. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth's religious settlement is only narrowly passed through Parliament and this was only with the arrest of three leading fervent Catholics. Even then, she is forced to accept some compromise, such as the title of Supreme Governor of the Church rather than Supreme Head of the Church as her father had had. Nevertheless by April 1559 the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity had passed. It is important not to underestimate the instability caused by an expensive external war. The war with France, and therefore by alliance the Pope was both figuratively and financially costly for Mary. The loss of Calais, for which Henry VIII had fought so hard, in what was perceived as a Spanish war was to blight Mary's reign, despite the fact she successfully defended the Northern border. It was felt that the fears of increased Spanish influence in English policy were becoming a reality. In addition the costly war left England with a debt of �300,000. Mary had created strong Catholic threats in the form of Henri II of France and the Pope against Elizabeth. The Auld-alliance between Scotland and France left England vulnerable to an attack from both the North and the South East, while an excommunication from the Pope in retaliation would leave her vulnerable to a Catholic uprising against her. ...read more.

Conclusion

The failure of Mary's reign had largely been contributed to her gender, who was the first crowned Queen Regent of England. However in comparison, Elizabeth was able to use this fact to her advantage. At 16 years old her tutor described her as 'exempt from female weakness.' In 1563, she said to parliament she was 'simply a woman', while only 3 years later she strongly stated to Robert Dudley ' I will have but one mistress and no master.' Christopher Haigh stated 'The monarchy of Elizabeth was founded upon illusion. She ruled by propagandist images which captivated her courtiers and seduced her subjects'. It could be argued that this propaganda cast a shadow of failure of the reign of Mary before her. However the failure of policy under Mary which led to instability in both religious and political matters is clear. Elizabeth's decision to create continuity within the Privy Council meant she was surrounded by experienced councilors upon whom she could trust, and who were capable of aiding her to establish herself as Queen, particularly William Cecil who was her principal advisor and was able to persuade her to begin an English intervention in Scotland in 1560. In conclusion, without Elizabeth's political skill and ability to act as 'king and queen' to England, she would have been unable to overcome the initial difficulties of her reign, the majority of which were due to failings under Mary before her. ...read more.

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