- Elizabethan England ( topics covering - elizabethan sport, pastimes and Theatre, Catholic Challenges and opposition to Elizabeth at home and abroad, Puritan Challenges to the Religious settlement, Significance of Francis Drake).
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Elizabeth came to the throne during the reformation.
Her father had broken from Rome and created the Church of England.
For 25 years the Church of England repetitively switched between being Protestant and Catholic.
300 Protestants had been burned at the stake before her reign.
Elizabeth had been raised Protestant but wanted peace with all religious settlements.
Half the country was catholic whilst the other half were more protestant, this caused religious divide between areas. There had been rebellions caused by the religious changes. The most powerful countries in Europe were also heavily catholic.
Problems – Foreign Relations:
Spain was the most powerful country run by Phillip II, it was fiercely catholic, and they had conquered much of the new world, giving them huge wealth. They also had control over the protestant Netherlands.
France was also a powerful country and England’s biggest rival and traditional enemy. They were a strong catholic country but had a quite strong protestant movement ongoing during this time.
Scotland was independently ruled by Mary Queen of Scots. France and Scotland had formed an alliance. Mary was a strong catholic and was also married to the heir to the French throne.
The papacy was the Pope’s power. He had influence amongst Catholics and could excommunicate Elizabeth if he so wished.
Problems – Legitimacy
Catholics believed Elizabeth to be illegitimate due to the circumstances of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage. They insisted that Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots was the one true queen.
Problems – Gender
In the 16th century England was highly sexist. They believed women could lead or govern their male counterparts. He half-sister Mary had left the impression that women weren’t fit to lead.
Problems – Marriage
Elizabeth was expected to marry and give birth to an heir in order to carry on her family name. She refused as it would mean that the husband would have full control over her.
If did marry a foreign prince this could lead to foreign interference and the man might look after his country with more respect than England. If she married an Englishman this would create resentment from not only other countries but other Privy counsellors.
Problems – Debt
Elizabeth had been left debt from the war of France. She was forced to sell off land to raise quick income. There was high levels of unemployment, poverty and even poor harvests.
Life In Elizabethan England -Education And Leisure.
Education: Over Elizabeth’s reign male literacy rises from 20% to 30%. Female literacy remains at 10%.
Young noble men were educated at professional universities and schools. Young noble women were educated similarly to Elizabeth.
72 new grammar schools introduced for boys and girls attended dame schools which focused on domestic skills.
For the poor there was a lack of education however some talented boys would gain scholarships at grammar schools.
Nobility and gentry would partake in sports such as hunting, fencing, tennis and music.
The poor took part in violent sports such as football, bear baiting, **** fighting and music.
Theatre was extremely popular with people of all classes. It was only 1 penny to stand in a pit to watch the show and the higher classes sat above. Plays were censored and controlled by the Privy Council.
Poverty and Vagrancy:
There was a stark population rise from 2.5 million to 4 million and led to a Malthusian catastrophe as population exceeded resources. Rents and prices increased however the wages decreased as this population raised – leading to an increase in poverty.
Common land was claimed by gentry for sheep farming which led to a loss of income and land.
The worsts harvest of the 16th century came in 1556 before Elizabeth’s reign and during her time on the throne there was even more poor harvests in the mid-1950s. Prices for food rose and there was much less of it.
There was a distinction between deserving and underserving poor. Elizabethan society was afraid of vagrants who wandered in the search of work. Church expected to organise a “poor rate” for the deserving poor.
In 1572 there was a vagabond act, this meant vagrants could be whipped and mutilated on the 1st offence and sent to the house of correction on the 2nd.
By the end of 1560s Elizabeth faced many threats to her throne, at home and from abroad. These threats accumulated and eventually lead to the Spanish Armada in 1588.
The Four Main Threats:
English Catholics – They were increasingly under suspicion after the Revolt of the Northern Earls. In 1570, the pope freed Catholics from their obedience to Elizabeth and called her to be overthrown. Elizabeth was protestant which angered the English Catholics who wanted to replace her with Mary Queen of the Scots.
Mary Queen Of Scots – Mary had a legitimate claim to the throne and was the focus of several of the plots against Elizabeth. She was preferred, being a strong Catholic woman.
Spain – Phillip II was a strict catholic and the king of Spain, he wanted to destroy the protestant faith. He already had a great empire that would pose a threat to Elizabeth.
The Revolt of the Northern Earls.
The North of England remained faithful to the traditional Catholic religion and they wanted it to be restored in the whole of England. The earls had lost a lot of their power during her reign and they were angered further by Elizabeth’s refusal to have an heir.
Key members of the revolt were: Thomas Percy, Charles Neville and Thomas Howard. They were all members of the higher class/noblemen. Of course, Mary was also part of this plan.
Once Elizabeth knew about this revolt, Norfolk was arrested and sent to the tower of London on 1st November 1569. The duke of Northumberland and Westmorland still pushed ahead with the revolt whilst Pilkington fled.
The rebels then turned South, bearing banners with religious marks. Elizabeth ordered Mary to be moved to Coventry – she did not want her to escape. The rebellion ultimately failed and Spain’s supporting troops never arrived. Elizabeth herself managed to raise an army of 14000. After the revolt was crushed, 450 rebels were executed on the Queen’s orders. Neville escaped but Thomas Peru was executed in 1572, his head being put on a spike in York as a warning.
The significance of the revolt was that it was the most serious rebellious act by the English Catholics against the Queen, treason laws became harsher because of this and it also ended the influence of Percy and Neville families in England. Catholics were treated worse as they could not be trusted. Her brutal revenge on the rebels showed just how seriously she saw this threat to her reign.
The Ridolfi Plot
Robert Ridolfi was an Italian banker living in England, he arranged a plot to murder Elizabeth, launch a Spanish invasion and place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne where she would marry the Duke Of Norfolk.
Phillip II of Spain and the duke of Alba both supported the plan and the king told Alba to prepare 10,000 men to send to England if necessary.