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How successfully did Elizabeth I handle her finances?

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How successfully did Elizabeth handle her finances? In her reign, Elizabeth I had successes and failures throughout when it comes to looking at finance. When Elizabeth had come to the throne, she had been left a debt by her predecessor, Mary I, of �300,000. With tight control over expenditure and many other factors, by 1585 the debt had been converted to a cash reserve of �300,000. However, there were problems that Elizabeth encountered during her reign to do with finance, and it is both sides I will be looking at in this essay. The first factor to show that Elizabeth dealed with her finances successfully was the selling of crown lands. Elizabeth sold crown lands she felt were surplus because this would help contribute toward building the cash reserve she achieved in 1585. This brought in �600,000 throughout her reign. She also raised revenue by allowing the last of the monastic properties seized by Henry VIII pass into private ownership. This then meant that Elizabeth would collect money for this to because in many ways, these properties were of no use to Elizabeth so there was no harm in selling them for a profit. ...read more.


If Elizabeth gave a member of the Privy Council for example, a monopoly, this meant that that particular person could fix the price of a certain commodity and anyone who wanted to buy that item would have to pay that price. However, this caused opposition and in the case of the example I used, could cause factional division in the Privy Council. Any properties the crown owned, the rent was raised to try and increase revenue. However, as was the case for many similar issues, these prices did not keep in line with inflation and therefore were useless to Elizabeth. Also, the selling of crown lands weakened the crowns financial base in the long term. Another factor to show that Elizabeth handled her finances successfully was that she decreased expenditure. The first way in which Elizabeth did this was that she used unpaid officials in government. These people did not have a fixed salary but instead worked for rewards, such as favourable leases on land and import and export licences. ...read more.


Another factor to show that Elizabeth handled her finances successfully was that throughout her reign, Elizabeth collected large subsidies from Parliament. In 1593, Elizabeth asked for three subsidies from Parliament. These were eventually granted after 24 days of debate. In October 1601, Cecil called for �300,000 to be raised. Elizabeth was granted four subsidies by Parliament to cover this. Elizabeth was also granted a quadruple subsidy; this was unprecedented however Elizabeth was still granted this subsidy. A counter argument against Elizabeth collecting large subsidies was the failure to reform taxation and so allowed corruption. In Elizabeth's reign there was an increasing demand for parliamentary taxation. In the 1570's Parliament was asked to approve subsidy taxes, even in peacetime, on the grounds that they were necessary for the country's defence. The outbreak of war with Spain led to unprecedented demands for taxation, even though Elizabeth's determination not to run up large debts influenced her military decisions. As parliamentary taxation was not efficiently administered the collectors, known as subsidy commissioners, were often corrupt. Ownership records were often decades out of date, leaving many untaxed. Above all, the assessment of wealth and income was based upon unsworn declarations. ...read more.

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3 star(s)

The Essay does cover a lot of the methods used by Elizabeth to cope with her difficult financial position. The start of the essay needed to set out what the problems were, some were inherited and a great deal came about as a result of the war with Spain. It would also have been good to set out why a monarch needed to have a strong financial position with a brief outline of the weakness created by a lack of land and funds.

Marked by teacher Kate Forbes 25/06/2012

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

Because the question begins with 'how succesfully', the student has done well to present reasons why Elizabeth was successful and reasons why she wasn't, as this shows they understand that no causes of historical events are certain and nothing is ...

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Response to the question

Because the question begins with 'how succesfully', the student has done well to present reasons why Elizabeth was successful and reasons why she wasn't, as this shows they understand that no causes of historical events are certain and nothing is ever totally successful or unsuccessful. The student could improve by bringing together all the reasons she was successful and having them in one section of the essay, and bringing together all the reasons she was unsuccessful in another section. This would show that the student can organise their knowledge, and would allow the examiner to see straight away that they understand alternative interpretations.

Level of analysis

The student uses a good range of evidence: the statistic ''a return of £80,000'' is good because it proves that the student understands that Elizabeth was making large and significant amounts of money, rather than just saying ''she made a high return''. However, at times the essay sounds more like a story than an argument: for example, there is too much information on Francis Drake in the second paragraph, and the student could improve by adding something on the end like ''...and this showed Elizabeth was good at using people to improve her finances'' as it explains the effects of Drake's actions and links back to the question. The major problem with this essay is that it has no conclusion. The question asks for a judgement, so you must give one to prove that you can assess the evidence to find the interpretation you agree with. Some students run out of time or think they have written everything they need to write in the essay, but you must leave time to write a conclusion.

Quality of writing

The quality of writing in this essay is good as the spelling, grammar and punctuation are excellent, which makes the essay easier for the examiner to read and understand. The essay could improve its use of technical vocabulary: at one point, the essay says ''Elizabeth had come to the throne'', but it would be better to say ''Elizabeth ascended to the throne'' because that shows a better knowledge about the process involved in selecting a new monarch.

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Reviewed by lordharvey 18/04/2012

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