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To what extent was Mary, Queen of Scots the major cause of instability in Elizabethan England?

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  • Essay length: 2953 words
  • Submitted: 02/10/2008
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AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics

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To what extent was Mary, Queen of Scots the major cause of instability in Elizabethan England?

During Elizabeth's reign, minor incidences occurred which could have caused instability if they had escalated including; Mary, Queen of Scots and the succession issue, plots in England, plots abroad and the puritans. Historian Heather Thomas stated, "Mary was always seen as a considerable threat to Elizabeth. Many Catholics did not recognize Elizabeth as the true Queen of the realm."1 This is shown to be incorrect with the lack of support for the Northern Earls Rebellion, the long lasting respect shown to Elizabeth by Pope Pius V and Phillip II and Puritan loyalty to the Queen despite grievances with her religious settlement. Furthermore, Mary could cause no instability after 1587 and her son James was a popular choice for Elizabeth's heir. Plots in England such as the Northern Earls Rebellion and the Ridolfi Plot were carelessly organised, closely watched by Walsingham and Elizabeth's spy network and therefore never came to fruition. The excommunication had little impact throughout Europe; it was not publicised, banned from display in Spain and as the majority of English Catholics resided in the north, they were in no

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