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To what extent was there a Struggle for Power between Elizabeth I and her Parliaments?

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Introduction

Samantha Donoghue 13B To what extent was there a Struggle for Power between Elizabeth I and her Parliaments? "For Elizabeth, parliamentarians were little boys-sometimes unruly, usually a nuisance, and always a waste of an intelligent woman's time."1 Elizabeth did not like her Parliaments, illustrated in the quotation. She saw matters of religion and foreign affairs as falling within her prerogative as God's representative on earth and therefore not to be discussed in Parliament, except by invitation.2 This view however is relatively new. The old Orthodox view is that Elizabeth looked upon her Parliaments as a forum where she could maintain contact with her loyal subjects.3 It is unclear from where this view originated. It may have been from evidence contained in Elizabeth's speeches to Parliament where she appeared to look upon them fondly: "I do assure you there is no prince that loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love."4 The writings of others, such as Sir John Neale during the 1930s to the 1950s provided a stark contrast, establishing a new orthodoxy which characterised Elizabeth and working against them throughout her reign, making a great deal of the times when they acted in a way foreshadowing the events that led to the civil war. He also highlighted the "struggle for power between Monarch and Commons."5 The Neale interpretation subsequently collapsed with the more recent writings of historians such as Elton. The revisionist's case revolves around the view that the Neale interpretation encourages people to exaggerate the extent to which Elizabeth disliked, and worked against Parliament. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that such caution was taken here shows that the issue does not illustrate a struggle for power, but rather Parliament wanting to work under Elizabeth and not bring the issue to open conflict. Neale however, took a very different view of the issue, seeing the predominance of economic issues as the consequence of "The eclipse of Puritanism after which a vacum existed, into which rushed concern for the economic issues of the day."16 The main reason that Parliament had their way over the issue was that it remained undivided as the issue affected all members. It also had the full support of the people. The issue was increasingly being discussed by the people which was unheard of at the time. Sir Robert Cecil even told the house in 1601 that he had even heard someone on the street shout to him: "God prosper those that further the overthrow of...monopolies. God send the prerogative touch not our liberty."17 Commons pressure forced Elizabeth to withdraw the most objectionable grants and to expose the rest to be considered in the common law courts. Whilst at the time, this was seen as a triumph for the house as a whole, in hindsight, the concession promised more than it achieved as monopolies were again to provoke angry protests under James I18. This is a clear example of conflict between Elizabeth and Parliament, although Parliament did not intend this to be seen as a struggle for power, shown in their caution when addressing the subject. ...read more.

Conclusion

5 Elizabeth I and her Parliaments, JE Neale 6 Access to History. Elizabeth I and the Government of England, Keith Randell. Chapter 5 'Elizabeth and Parliament.' 7 Elizabeth I, Christopher Haigh. Chapter Six, 'The Queen and the Parliament.' 8 Elizabeth I and her Parliaments, JE Neale. 9 The emergence of a Nation State- The Commonwealth of England 1529-1660. AGR Smith. Chapter 15. 10 Elizabeth I and her Parliaments, JE Neale. 11The emergence of a Nation State- The Commonwealth of England 1529-1660. AGR Smith. Chapter 15. 12 Access to History. Elizabeth I and the Government of England, Keith Randell. Chapter 5 'Elizabeth and Parliament.' 13 Access to History. Elizabeth I and the Government of England, Keith Randell. Chapter 5 'Elizabeth and Parliament.' 14 Elizabeth I, Christopher Haigh. Chapter two, 'The Queen and the Church.' 15 Elizabeth I, Christopher Haigh. Chapter Six, 'The Queen and the Parliament.' 16 The Reign of Elizabeth I. 'The crown and the Counties.' Penry Williams 17 The Government of Elizabethan England, AGR Smith. 40 18 The Reign of Elizabeth I. 'The crown and the Counties.' Penry Williams 19 The emergence of a Nation State- The Commonwealth of England 1529-1660. AGR Smith. Chapter 15. 20 The Reign of Elizabeth I. 'Parliament' GR Elton. 21 Elizabeth I, Christopher Haigh. Chapter Six, 'The Queen and the Parliament.' 22 Access to History. Elizabeth I and the Government of England, Keith Randell. Chapter 5 'Elizabeth and Parliament.' 23 JE Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons. 365 24 The Government of Elizabethan England, AGR Smith. 'Parliament.' 25 Elizabeth I and her Parliaments. JE Neale. 26 The emergence of a Nation State- The Commonwealth of England 1529-1660. AGR Smith. 132 ...read more.

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