• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Elizabeth I: There is much debate amongst historians concerning the religious priorities of Elizabeth in formulating the momentous Church Settlement of 1559

Extracts from this document...


Elizabeth I: The Religious Settlement of 1559 There is much debate amongst historians concerning the religious priorities of Elizabeth in formulating the momentous Church Settlement of 1559, which was to shape the Church of England for years to come. Many factors can lay claim to shaping the Settlement, but in order to judge which one influenced it most strongly; one must look at the Settlement itself, which contains a strong base of Protestantism but with conservative concessions. Taking into account Elizabeth's own personal beliefs, which were conveniently politically shrewd, Elizabeth seemed to have adopted the pragmatic policy of trying to please everyone and to keep internal peace, with a Settlement containing enough Catholic superficiality to keep her conservative subjects, if not bishops, contented. The traditional view of the Settlement, taken by historians such as J.E Neale, is that it was influenced by Protestant pressure applied by Puritans returning from abroad and that Elizabeth herself favoured the conservative methods. This view relied mainly on evidence about the 'Puritan Choir', a group of committed Puritan MPs led by Sir Francis Knollys and Sir Anthony Cooke, making up a quarter of the 404 members of Parliament. ...read more.


Cecil, Bacon, Knollys and she was publicly identified with Protestantism, a factor that led her to be crowned by the junior Bishop of Carlisle as the other Catholic bishops did not want to get involved. At the Christmas Mass of 1558, Elizabeth dramatically swept out of the royal chapel after the host was raised and in early 1559 at the State Opening of Parliament, she eschewed the monks carrying tapers, saying 'Away with these torches, we can see very well!' Elizabeth may not (in the words of Haigh) have been a 'card-carrying Calvinist' but she certainly wasn't a Catholic. Indeed the Catholic Church saw her as illegitimate and would not recognise her as a rightful claimant to the throne. Elizabeth also did not desire to be associated with the unpopularity of the Marian regime, especially as they were so easy to compare, considering they were both women. However, taking into account the level of Catholic opposition and the danger of upsetting the major Catholic powers, especially after the treaty of Cateau-Cambr�sis in April 1559, Elizabeth was forced to make compromises from her beliefs and to take the option that was the most politically shrewd and beneficial for her subjects, to have a 'via media' between Catholicism and Protestantism. ...read more.


Catholic pressure was certainly more influential as so many concessions were made to Catholicism, however it always remained rooted in Protestantism. Elizabeth's personal beliefs were certainly important but she did not let them cloud her judgement when forming the Settlement, as her main priority was to ensure that everyone in England could attend their parish church, conforming to a religion that suited them. In order to do this she leant more towards Protestantism, her religion of preference, with Catholic concessions to ensure that the Settlement got past Parliament and would not alienate her Catholic subjects, many of whom were used to the return to Catholicism of Mary's reign. Unlike Mary, she had no strong religious zeal to convert her subjects to her own religion but recognised that care and caution were necessary and so adjusted her Settlement accordingly, especially after the unexpectedly strong opposition of the Catholic Lords shocked her in February 1559. Therefore the verdict must be that Elizabeth's main priority when forming the settlement of 1559 was her subjects and the well-being of her country, perfectly summed up by Count Von Helffstein writing in 1559, 'A very prudent action, for the less she ruffles them at the beginning of her reign, the more easily she will enthral them at the end.' ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

The key strength of this essay is the sharp focus on the issue of weighing up the factors that shaped and influenced the settlement. It also has a confident style and used detail about the period to precisely support the points being made. There is good reasoning and this shows a grasp of the complex situation Elizabeth was in and does not over simplify the issue.
If this was for A Level course work there would need to be more use of the views of historians and more carefully selected quotes.

Marked by teacher Kate Forbes 29/08/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. What problems did Elizabeth I face at the begining of her reign?

    Other advisors would tell her to marry the Spanish king, Mary's ex-husband - Philip II, as he could prove to be a useful ally against France. However, Mary had previously faced uprisings over her marriage to Philip as the Spaniards were unpopular.

  2. How successfully did James deal with religious problems throughout his reign?

    Once again the king and his parliament had treated the Catholic harshly, although aggravated by the assassination plot, it was simply another method to make their opinions heard, as previous attempts had been stopped. If James had tolerated the Catholics instead of taxing and forcing laws upon them and ignoring

  1. To what extent was the Break with Rome in 1532-4 the result of personal ...

    All bishops and archbishops had to live humbly, but this turned out to be the opposite. Many would live extremely wealthy lives, with rich clothing and good food. Cardinal Wolsey was a perfect example as he built his own palace in Hampton Court at his own cost.

  2. Creative Writing: A Gothic Story

    It's fun up here!" So the young boys hurried up the stairs into the bedroom, ready to give James a good kick.

  1. Who posed the greater threat to Elizabeth

    They wanted to see an end to the remaining Catholic practices. The 1560s saw the Puritans seek further official reformation of the Church, while unofficially adapting the Prayer Book to create a more 'godly' Church at community level. When the Convocation of Canterbury met in 1563 to define the beliefs

  2. Religion was the most serious problem facing Elizabeth in 1558? How far do you ...

    As well as this England was going through debasement, the lowering value of currency, this encouraged a lack of faith in the currency.

  1. How well did Pitt deal with the radical threat?

    working men along with their union trying to cause trouble for the government, hence why many saw this as a very good measure taken by Mr. Pitt. Other, maybe slightly less known acts were also implemented by Pitt to try and quash the threat of radicalism.

  2. Causes and Consequences of the Elizabethan Settlement

    In addition, the Pope could call on the Catholic power in Europe and lead a crusade against England. An example of foreign pressure is when Elizabeth needed to maintain good relations with Netherlands as Antwerp was vital for English textile trade.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work