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Elizabeth and Protestantism

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Jennifer Mori

Elizabeth and Protestantism • Political/monarchical account of reformation vs popular culture and belief aspect –how ppl’s beliefs change; what took place in churches; how did they experience this change from 1530s • Elizabeth easily the most successful tudor monarchs – ruling the country; keeping the love of subjects (at a cost – never married); lack of heir problem didn’t go away with Henry • She died in 1603 – passed to James Stewart/Stuart of Scotland • French name (allies of Scots) • Relationship b/w Elizabeth and James is tenuous – her aunt, Henry’s sister Margaret had married into Scottish royal family in 1503 • So James is Margaret’s great-grandson • By beginning of 17 c., Tudors have run out of protestant heirs – big issue • So Stewart family is suitable b/c they are guaranteed to keep church of England on protestant path set by Elizabeth • Her political advisors esp. last chief minister, Robert Cecil, played a very important part in transferring of monarchical power from Elizabeth to James • This is b/c Elizabeth kept ppl guessing about her ultimate intentions as she aged to ensure power remained in her own hands – but created confusion • James’ transition into throne was not so clear to subjects of England at the time • Elizabeth – smarter than Mary; better political survivor • She had to put up with much uncertainty and hardship before coming to throne: bastardized by her father, illegitimate following Edward’s birth – first in henry’s affections; rules of royal inheritance – boy trumps • Illegitimacy later revoked by henry b/c another 3 marriages after death of Seymour, there were no more male kids • And apparent that it was sensible to put mary and Elizabeth back on the throne b/c kids were not materializing • Elizabeth and mary were never sure where they stood in their father’s eyes • Elizabeth was trusted by mary even though she had a closer relationship with her rather than Edward – e.g. she was put under house arrest under mary’s reign; her servants were paid spies; Elizabeth had to manage herself with care so not to spark off accusations/suspicions of treasonable behaviour • Elizabeth has to combat the patriachalism/discriminatory gender beliefs of the time – weak monarch b/c she was a woman • She overcame these obstacles by; not marrying; on ability and intelligence e.g. how she dealt with the matter of religion • Installation of new protestant church – new acts of supremacy and uniformity had to be passed • First one – all acts of supremacy make monarch official head of church of England • But Elizabeth’s act was different from Edward’s and henry’s b/c she didn’t act as much of a policy-maker for the church • Unlike henry VIII and Edward, she saw her role as a custodial one; a more super-intending one than managerial – hands off with dealings with church; left decision-making to arch-bishop and bishops • This is sensible b/c they don’t have theological training; respect of clergy; not a good realm to meddle in; above conflicts that might arise – can be a mediator b/w warring religious groups; shielded from hostility to unpopular changes in religious policy • She was a conservative protestant – kept ornamented silver plates in private chapel (reminiscent of catholic religious ritual and commitment –so conservative views); she disliked married priests; • But despite these personal views, she wanted to keep crown distant from theological disputes • So 1563 39 articles of religion that the church of England gets are moderate; compromise religious settlement; tries to give something to everybody in terms of the political and religious opinion at the time • Man who master—minded composition of articles is her first arch-bishop of Canterbury, Mathew parker • Extracts from articles – they seem to contradict each other in certain respects – so a moderate settlement • Depending on what kind of protestant you are, you can glob on certain aspects of the articles and prioritize them in your faith/worship • It is a protestant church as salvation by faith lies at core of belief; individual’s relationship with god is clearly placed above relationship with priests or other intermediaries • The catholic mass is decisively abolished – no miracles, transubstantiation • Good works are placed after faith in order of importance (12); good works cannot put away our sins (no indulgences, or buying grace) • Although works are useful; in church or England it is charity or leaving money to church = good works • Problems arise in interpreting article 17 – declaration in favour of predestination and election • Predestination as a belief had not commanded much support in England before mary took throne • But pucture changes over 1550s b/c many protestants fled to other countries to avoid maryian persecutions – refugees in continental Europe (e.g. Geneva – model community for Calvinists) • Church-state; theocracy – church elders or minister cooperate with civilian authorities in governing town • When Elizabeth takes throne, all those refugees return to England • So they are demanding recognition for their beliefs as part of compensation to flee – lost houses, relatives, etc • So this is partly why this article is there • Lutheran persuasion – prioritize #10 on free will • Articles are unclear about role of will and faith actually are in salvation of individual • What exactly are you supposed to be doing to get to heaven? This is deliberate – must fuse protestants of different theological backgrounds under one umbrella • Elizabethan church has been called a broad church – b/c that is what it represents • Only the literate or middling sort does theological doctrine matter – debate is vehement e.g. robes priests should wear; how ornate/rituals – sensuous = Catholicism • Puritans see cathedrals as inappropriate edifices for worship of god • Ordinary ppl don’t really care about this; they have gone through bewildering set of religious changes since 1530s – disappearance of monasteries, introduction of new style bibles and religious services • This was reversed under Mary – papal authority, catholic ritual, latin bibles restored but again under Elizabeth, this was changed • Why does English reformation happen with little bloodshed? – ppl were confused, didn’t know what to make of changes taking place and so stuck to old belief system until Elizabeth came to throne • Date the English reformation – traditional date is original act of supremacy and launching of Henry VIII’s divorce – placing start date 1532-33 • If we are assessing impact of reformation by the number of ppl who genuinely converted to Protestantism you have to start it with reign of Elizabeth – go in at least 5 years so church reform can take hold and ppl can actually start believing; • So we have a significant time hiatus involved • There are middle of the road answers – reformation starts as an elite, educated literate phenomenon in the 1530s with ppl at the top of the ladder and trickles down • But a lot depends on how you see the process of religious change taking place and how much commitment is involved- complicated factors • English clergy didn’t protestant that much – issue of shock; issue of stern messages from Crown that dissent will not be tolerated • Thomas More, lord chancellor of England at time of Henry’s divorce – famous for Utopia, man of great learning, internationally recognized author, strong catholic • Prot
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