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Was there a mid-Tudor crisis during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I (1547-1558)?

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Introduction

Khrystyna Andronova Was there a 'mid-Tudor' crisis during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I (1547-1558)? The view that there was a crisis in face of combination of weak rulers, number of financial and economic problems, a series of rebellions, religious reformations, and foreign policy failures in the middle years of the sixteen century was first implicit in the writings of influential historians, such as A.F. Pollard and S.T. Bindoff and first explained by W.R.D. Jones in his book 'The Mid-Tudor Crisis 1539-1563'. Revisionists like David Loades, Jennifer Loach and Robert Tittler, who have written under the influence of detailed research, argued this notion and even suggest that this period was actually one of success and great achievements. Moreover there is another view of mid-Tudor crisis which suggest that both traditionalists and revisionist are wrong in their assumptions as John Matusiak stated there was no crisis and although there were achievements in mid-Tudor England , they couldn't be characterized as 'years of achievement' and in any overarching sense both interpretations are wrong. To begin with the years of 1547 to 1553 lies between two big reigns first of Henry VIII and the second one is the reign of Elisabeth I, who both made a fundamental changes and both enjoyed long and dramatic reigns. ...read more.

Middle

This was where a small percentage of the value was removed from each coin as it was made and then used to make new coins. This helped in the short term, but led to inflation and worse problems later. This was a huge problem for peasants, who normally spent around 80% of their income on food. The population also increased from about 2.3 million in 1500 to 3 million in Edward's reign, as well as continuous military expenditure which amounted to around 3.5 million between 1544 and 1550.All these led to huge inflation and unemployment, moreover there were lower wages and increased rents, poor harvests in 1549- 51, 1544-6, which caused migrations to cities and towns. There were also introduction of enclosure and governments ineffective attempts to resolve situation. The economic situation was worsen by a crisis in cloth trade , which led to a 15 % slump in wool exports in 1551 and a further decline by 20 % in the following year. Nowadays there are lots of counter- arguments amongst historians, who tried to argue the meaning of term 'crisis' to these years. And for many of them crisis denotes the situation involving imminent danger of systematic collapse in political, social or economic terms or in all three simultaneously. ...read more.

Conclusion

John Matusiak introduced a new view in the debate on whether there was a crisis or not and he argued that both traditionalists and revisionists are wrong in their assumptions. His view is that there was no crisis and the achievements were not so great to describe these years as a years of great achievements he called mid-Tudor years as "Years of Trauma and Survival" and so in his words it was a time of trauma during which the state's efforts were focused on survival rather than achievement. To sum up, although England became close to a 'sense of crisis', the essential state machinery was not under threat, my view goes with post-revisionist assumptions, as it was years of huge economical and social problems, which the state tried to control by introducing sensible policies, so it wasn't a crisis but neither there were achievements as reforms introduced needed more time to achieve result. Looking at Elizabethan reign we can deduced that Elisabeth implemented many policies worked out by Mary I and her government, for instance recoinage, according to C.E. Challis 'Elisabeth could never have tackled the problem of the coinage either as quickly or as effectively as she did had it not been so thoroughly aired amongst government officials in the immediately preceding years'. So all in all, by examining range of relevant evidence about government, society, rebellions and religious changes it could be stated that there were no crisis as there was no 'apocalypse' and the state didn't collapsed. ...read more.

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