Why, and with What Success, Did Elizabeth Resist Puritan Attempts to Modify the Religious Settlement?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By jhazelton57
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“Marry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of puritan.” – “O, if I thought that I’d beat him like a dog!”
The word ‘puritan’ was used as a term of abuse in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, yet fifty years earlier John Knox wrote of “the godly and zealous preachers” in his works of 1558. There is a wide scale of debate over where the biggest Puritan threat came from, and the level of success in which Elizabeth dealt with them. Overall, the biggest threat came from separatists who aimed to disband the Church of England. A rise in extreme Puritan ideology would’ve certainly been perceived as a threat. However, these threats were dealt with so effectively by Elizabeth that they could not have developed into a serious threat by the 1590s.
John E Neale argues that the Settlement was challenged by a ‘Puritan Choir’ in Parliament. With hindsight, it is proven that Neale took his idea from the 17th century Puritan sympathiser Simon D’Ewes, who possessed unreliable sources. However, Elton points out that leading Puritan MPs consistently opposed features of the Settlement. This is true to some extent – Walter Strickland’s 1571 Bill to reform the Book of Common Prayer was shortly followed by the start of John Field’s Parliamentary campaign through his ‘Admonitions to Parliament’. Opposition seemed evident up until the late 1580s; in 1587 Anthony Cope’s bill demanded the publication of an English Genevan Prayer Book. The fact that Parliament allowed the bill to be read shows that it had some sympathy toward Puritan grievances. Nevertheless, Elton’s view loses interpretation against the more sustained view of W.J Jones, who claims that the parliamentary challenge stood little chance. Indeed, within Parliament Elizabeth was in her strongest position to keep “a vice-like grip on the pace of change”, as stated by John Guy. The Queen showed her indignation towards Strickland by vetoing most…...

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