The Elizabethan Religious Settlement

Mind Map by , created over 5 years ago

Mind Map on The Elizabethan Religious Settlement, created by amy.banks11 on 03/17/2014.

Created by amy.banks11 over 5 years ago
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The Elizabethan Religious Settlement
1 Considerations that helped to shape the religious settlement
1.1 Unity/ Stability
1.1.1 Religion was Elizabeth's most pressing problem because it was likely to divide the nation. It had caused rebellions in England under her father (Henry VIII) and brother (Edward VI)
1.2 A Broad Church
1.2.1 A Calvinist Settlement would upset Philip II of Spain, as well as Catholics at home.
1.2.2 She needed a church that all would accept. The majority were Catholic and she did not want to alienate them.
1.2.3 Her church would be evangelical with the Bible being the test of belief and practice.
1.3 Elizabeth's personal religious beliefs
1.3.1 Matthew Parker had been her mother's confessor, and guided Elizabeth spiritually Elizabeth had been brought up by Catherine Parr; who had been an evangelical (Emphasis on the Bible to justify belief and practice). Her education reinforced this.
1.3.2 She liked the ceremony of the Catholic Church and had a silver crucifix in her chapel. She had been brought up in her father's Anglo-Catholic Church and her mother was associated with it.
1.3.3 She rejected Transubstantiation and would not allow the priest to elevate the Eucharist in her private chapel. In her Prayer Book of 1559 she would accept real presence in communion falling short of transubstantiation.
1.3.4 She would not allow the use of incense which she clearly considered evidence of superstition and so rejected purgatory.
1.4 Bishops
1.4.1 Roman Catholic bishops were to resign as a group. Which may not have been a bad thing as Elizabeth needed bishops that weren't going to rock the boat.
1.4.2 She needed the best theologians as bishops and they would expect nothing less than a church based on the Second Edwardian Prayer Book, 1552.
1.5 Foreign Relations
1.5.1 She had to calculate the risk of invasion from abroad from the Catholic powers. She gambled that Scotland would follow France's lead and France was negotiating the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis, so it was not in their interests to invade. MQS was the next-in-line to the English throne and she was in France in 1558, married to the dauphin. Spain would not act against England for fear of making England vulnerable to attack from France and Scotland. If France acquired the British Isles it would break the Habsburg encirclement as well as cutting off Spain's Channel supply to the Netherlands. She calculated correctly and Spain's concern about France was to help to delay the Papal Bull of Excommunication (1570). But these were difficult decisions for Elizabeth because the majority of people in England were Catholic and a Catholic invasion could have sparked rebellion at home. In truth, Spain and France had been more interested in Italy and disputes over their own borders.
1.5.2 The Pope was bound to excommunicate her when she introduced a reformed church.
2 Whose Church was it?
2.1 The main priority of the church settlement was to assert the church's independence from Rome by reintroducing the Royal Supremacy. But she wanted doctrinal change quickly so that people would understand her church and accept it from the start. She did not want an Anglo-Catholic Church.
2.2 Cecil introduced changes quickly before Easter 1559.
2.2.1 By including the Second Edwardian Prayer Book in the Act of Supremacy she was looking to re-establish Protestant worship immediately. The Prayer Book should have been introduced in an Act of Uniformity, so this suggests Cecil anticipated opposition to doctrinal change, (Most ppl. in England were Catholic)
2.3 Parliament's role was merely to endorse Elizabeth's changes. The bills were initiated by Elizabeth and Cecil, not parliament.
2.3.1 BUT Parliament showed it had the potential to oppose the crown: The House of Commons passed the bill. It was wrecked by the Catholic bishops and lay peers in the House of Lords. It went to a committee dominated by Conservatives. They kept the Royal Supremacy but they also kept the mass and the heresy laws while allowing Communion in both kinds. They wanted to restore Henry VIII's Anglo-Catholic church. Elizabeth could have accepted the bill and become Supreme Head of the church. Parliament had passed a subsidy bill and she had the money for her Scottish policy. But she did not. She put parliament into recess because she had clearly decided on doctrinal change.
2.3.2 The timing of the Settlement was probably influenced by the signing of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (1559). It was unlikely that Spain and/ or France via Scotland would move against her. She had been tacitly recognized as Queen of England by negotiating the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis.
3 The Act of Supremacy 1559
3.1 Elizabeth took the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England.


  • The Pope no longer had any power in England. Reformers and Catholic bishops had objected to a woman taking the title of Supreme Head so she did not take her father's title to avoid any unnecessary trouble. She would exercise the same power whatever the title.  
3.2 Communion in both kinds was to be used.


  • It permitted limited protestant practice in case the Act of Uniformity was not passed.  
3.3 The heresy laws were repealed.
3.3.1 It was more difficult to be charged with heresy in future and so would prevent future burnings.
3.3.2 Heresy could only be defined by the General Council of the Church.
3.4 They were lumped together because the royal supremacy was less controversial than the doctrinal change a new prayer book would introduce.
3.4.1 The Act of Supremacy was much more likely to be passed, and indeed the House of Commons passed the Act of Supremacy in four days. The Lords only passed it after it had been changed so that the Court of High Commission could not define Catholicism as heresy.
4 The Act of Uniformity 1559
4.1 Uniformity of belief and practice was vital for internal security/ stability
4.1.1 Elizabeth I wanted unity brought by one queen, one law and one church.
4.2 The Elizabethan Prayer Book of 1559 was in English. It was based on the Second Edwardian Prayer Book 1552 with some revisions that reflected the Queen's personal preferences.
4.2.1 She deliberately combined the wording of Communion from the First Edwardian Prayer Book 1549 and the Second Edwardian Prayer Book 1552. It was pragmatic because it allowed Catholics and Calvinists to interpret Communion in their own way. She was creating a broad church.
4.3 By dropping the black rubric she showed she believed that Communion was a sacrament.
4.3.1 The reformers were not happy about this but the Conservatives were. She reinforced this belief in Communion being a sacrament in the Thirty Nine Articles 1563, so again this reflected her own beliefs.
4.3.2 The red rubric allowed Elizabeth to decide on the vestments of the church and she kept the old mass vestments. This was to cause trouble with the reformers but there was a clause that allowed Elizabeth to alter this ruling at a later date. Reformers hoped she would. They wanted the royal supremacy and doctrinal change and would not risk losing them by trying to have the ornaments rubric removed. In fact, she would not alter this ruling. She had created her own church and she would stick to its beliefs and practices. She wanted people to have confidence in their church. The had remained unaltered in centuries.
4.4 The aim was to impose uniformity. It was compulsory for:
4.4.1 The 1559 Prayer Book to be used in all services.
4.4.2 Everyone had to attend church on Sundays and holydays.
4.4.3 A recusancy fine of one shilling was to be paid each time church was missed deliberately. This was aimed at Catholics.
4.5 It was always going to be difficult for the Prayer Book to be passed by a Catholic House of Lords. The Commons passed the Act of Uniformity quickly. It was only passed in the Lords by three votes and there were four conservatives missing from the Lords
4.5.1 Over Easter, Elizabeth deliberately organised a public debate over doctrine to strengthen the Protestant position. The Catholics walked out and as a result the leading bishops were imprisoned in the tower. The Act would not have been passed had the bishops been there.
4.5.2 This reinforces the view that England was still largely Conservative in belief and practice. The reforming faction had steered these changes through Parliament although they got away with it by the skin of their teeth in the House of Lords. The Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity had made constitutional history. They had imposed religious change without the consent of a single churchman. The Anglican Church had been made law by the laity alone. Elizabeth, with Cecil, had decided what form her settlement should take.

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