Elizabeths Religious policies


Impact on religious developments between 1558-63

In December 1559, all but one of the Marian bishops refused to consecrate the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker. Their positions were filled by protestants exiled under Mary, such as Edmund Grindal, who became bishop of London in 1560

However, Elizabeth herself was more conservative than her strongly protestant supporters. She disapproved of clergy marrying, distrusted preaching, and favoured the musical culture of the cathedrals and university colleges.

  • The queen viewed the settlement as an act of state, defining the relationship between crown and church but not 'making windows into men's souls'
  • Others (including Cecil and Dudley) believed the settlement was the starting point for the development of a Puritan church. (ie a radical protestant church, following Calvinist ideas and totally rejecting Catholic teaching)

While the Elizabeth settlement reformed doctrine, it did not go far enough to please leading protestants in its reform of the church's structure, disciplinary procedures, services and clerical dress. In essence, the Church of England was becoming Calvinist in doctrine but only half reformed in its structures.

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Political and Religious events

1547- Edward VI Succeeds

1549- First book of common prayer introduced & fall of Somerset

1552- Second book of common prayer introduced

1553- Forty-Two articles of Religion published

  • Edward VI dies, Lady Jane Grey proclaimed queen; Mary I succeeds

1553- Edwardian religious laws repealed

1554- Mary marries Phillip of Spain

  • Wyatt's rebellion

1558- Death of Mary, Elizabeth succeeds

1559- Elizabethan religious settlement

1563- Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion published

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Religious developments and the 'Golden Age' of Eli

The majority of the population supported the royal supremacy and after the legislation enacting the Elizabethan religious settlement of 1559, there was broad acceptance. Most worshippers accepted the change which occurred in their parishes as churches lost some of their statutory and plate, and plain communion tables were erected. There were some who had strong religious convictions and actively worked against the settlement, these included:

  • recusants (Catholics who paid fines rather than attend Anglican services)
  • Puritains (a new group, opposed to all Catholic practices, which emerged in the 1560s).

From 1570, when the pope excommunicated Elizabeth, the English church became more protestant and those who failed to conform could be punished. nevertheless, a Puritan faction grew and contained:

  • Presbyterians, whose ideas derived from Calvinism and who wanted to remove the bishops
  • Separatists, who were dissatisfied with the pace of the protestant reforms and wanted to go further

Similarly, the Catholic faction became more active:

  • it linked up with movements on the continent for counter-reformation in the 1570 &1580s
  • it supported the activities of English priests trained abroad and Jesuits who came to England to reconvert it (these were harshly treated by the authorities)

Harsh penal laws against Catholics and the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada, which reduced the perceived threat of Catholicism, helped Puritains reconcile themselves to the Elizabethan settlement in the later years of her reign. By the time she dies in 1603, religion was no longer a serious political issue and the 'godly' puritans were accepted within the church.

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Puritanism rose after the 1563 Convocation of Canterbury failed to go further in its reform of the church.

1566- the vestiarian controversy occurred when Archbishop Parker issued his advertisements making certain vestments compulsory. This angered some protestants (Puritans), particularly in London, and some Puritan ministers were deprived of their livings.

1583- Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift issued three Articles. These demanded acceptance from the clergy of:

  • the royal supremacy
  • the prayer book
  • the Thirty-Nine Articles

Few Puritan clergies were prepared to break with the church by refusing the Three Articles.

1595- The Lambeth Articles, approved by Whitgift, reaffirmed the fundamentally Calvinist beliefs of the Church of England and proved acceptable to both Puritans and their opponents.

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Separatism was the most extreme form of Puritanism. Its adherents wanted to separate for the Church of England altogether and create independent church congregations, without the queen as Supreme Governor.

The movement emerged in the 1580s but had only small followings eg Norwich and London.

1593- Act against Seditious Sectaries (members of sects which had separated from the Church of England) brought arrests of Separatists. The leaders of the London movement were tried and executed for circulating 'seditious books'

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Initially, Catholicism was tolerated but:

  • they had to pay recusancy fines if they failed to attend Anglican services (many outwardly conformed, despite there inner beliefs.
  • all (except 1) Catholic bishops refused to conform to the 1559 oath of Supremacy
  • many Catholic intellectuals went into exile; some priests survived as private chaplains to Catholic nobles.

1571- Following Elizabeth's excommunication (1570), the publication of papal bulls in England became treasonable.

1575-85- Catholic priests trained abroad came to England to uphold and spread Catholicism. They operated in secret from the country houses of Catholic gentry and aristocracy. Some were trained at a new college in Bouai (Spanish Netherlands) from 1568.

1580- Jesuit priests also arrived, led by Robert Parsons and Edmund Campion. ( the latter was captured and executed in 1581).

1581- Act to retain the Queen's Majesty's subjects in their due Obedience made:

  • non-allegiance to the queen or Church of England treasonable
  • saying Mass punishable by a heavy fine and imprisonment
  • the fine for non-attendance at church £20 per month

The missions had limited success. 15 Catholic priests were executed in 1581-82 and a further act in 1585 made it treasonable for Catholic priests to enter England. Catholicism became more a 'country house' religion than the popular faith it had been in the 1560s.

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Presbyterianism was a Puritan sub-set which developed after the Vestiarian Controversy. It attracted some important supporters, including the Earl of Huntingdon and the Earl of Leicester, but was generally a fringe movement in London, the south-east and parts of the East Midlands.

1572- The admonition to Parliament by John Field and Thomas Wilcox (London Clergymen) demanded greater reliance on the authority of the scriptures and church government by ministers and elders rather than bishops (its authors were imprisoned)

1583- Some Presbyterianisms stood out against the three Articles

1584 & 1587- Peter Turner and Anthony Cope, respectively, introduced bills in Parliament to replace the Book of Common Prayer with a new prayer book stripped of 'popish' elements. neither bills were passed.

The late 1580s- Presbyterianism declined as parliaments rejection of copes proposed prayer book suggested further reform was likely.

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Political developments at the end of Elizabeths re

1563- Statute of Artificers

1566- Vestiarian Controversy

1569-70- Northern rebellion

1570- Pope Pius V excommunicates Elizabeth

1585- Start of Anglo-Spanish war

1588- Spanish Armada

1601- Poor Law

1601- Essex rebellion

1603- Death of Elizabeth

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by 1603, the glories associated with the earlier years of Elizabeth's reign had faded and faction-fighting and rebellion damaged her government

The reign had brought continued economic growth and some social improvement

Although Elizabeths later years saw increased persecution of Catholics, the Elizabethan religious settlement came to be widely accepted and the Puritan threat had been contained

Catholicism- popular Catholicism has declined

English Catholics divided between a majority who tried to be loyal to both crown the faith and a minority who sought a Catholic succession

Church of England (Anglican church)- most people could identify with/ accepted

Puritanism had faded; most Puritans had become assimilated within the mainstream church

Separatism had virtually disappeared.

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