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How serious were the problems posed by the Puritans in the reign of Elizabeth I?

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Introduction

How serious were the problems posed by the Puritans in the reign of Elizabeth I? As a whole, the problems caused by the Puritans grew in their seriousness, an inherent degree of variation seemingly increasing as time wore on in the years between 1571 and 1593. This worsening seriousness also appears to be in accordance to the nature of the complaint; after the Puritans switched from questioning the ecclesiastical order to directly challenging the way the country's run, government and the Queen's position on the throne, the Privy Council and Elizabeth saw them as a greater threat and disturbance. At first the Puritans did not seem to pose considerable problems and were quite easily dismissed. This is evidenced in the Vestments Controversy. Elizabeth wished that the exact dress should be worn at all times as set down in the settlement, and whether or not a person wore this dress became a test of their loyalty and their obedience. ...read more.

Middle

Elizabeth wanted the country to remain united under the settlement, and at this point that still seemed very likely, as the Puritans were not creating a huge furore. The government imprisoned people such as John Field and Thomas Wilcox who wrote against the practices deemed acceptable by Elizabeth, Puritans only believing in following scripture exactly, and multiple printing-presses were destroyed late in 1572. Still, at this point, the problems did not seem so serious, as it was only minor action that had been taken and no real difficulty faced the government and Elizabeth. The man mainly behind the Puritan campaign in England was Thomas Cartwright, who was a very extreme Protestant and wrote multiple controversial religious works after being educated at Cambridge. He travelled to Geneva and the Channel Islands, expanding in his Puritanism, becoming more fervent if possible. ...read more.

Conclusion

While Elizabeth worried about the threats to the monarch's authority and the possibility a Puritan-dominated England would be open to Catholic invasion, something she simply couldn't allow, Elizabeth also had to deal with pressure from the Catholics. The growing tension between England and Spain was hard to ignore, and the loss of trading with the Netherlands, and this meant that they were not deemed to be as great a threat as they could have been as the majority of the rest of the general public turned against them. In conclusion, I think there was a great variance in the problems caused by the Puritans during Elizabeth's reign as the objections started out small, much like any other rebel group might, but grew into a direct threat against Elizabeth as monarch. Overall, due to the fact there were the secret Prophesyings and the push for Classical Presbyterianism at one point, the Puritans were a serious problem, but perhaps not as serious as the Catholics. ...read more.

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