Elizabethan Church Settlement Essays

Elizabethan Settlement Essay

Elizabethan Settlement

After Elizabeth took the throne and became the ruling monarch of England she wanted to relieve the tension between the Protestants and the Catholics. Elizabeth decided on a compromise between the two religions, one that would have characteristics of both, this new religion was called Anglicanism. The factors that caused Elizabeth to make this decision were her personal religious preferences, the views of the Marian Bishops and the opinions given to her by the parliament. However this compromise did have consequences. These include the dissatisfaction from both Protestants and Catholics, The Vestiarian Controversy and the Catholic opposition the settlement.
After the death of Henry in 1547, a 10 year old Edward came to the throne. The English Church became increasingly Protestant in worship and doctrine under the Protestant Lord Somerset. Mary succeeded the throne after Edward’s death in 1553. Mary was a devout Catholic and saw it her mission to restore Catholicism back to England. She used mainly persecution to do this, by burning Protestants for not renouncing their beliefs, these actions turned many English people against Catholicism.
Elizabeth wanted to create one religion for the entirety of England, one that would hopefully make both religious groups in England happy. One factor which led to the Elizabethan settlement was her own personal religious preferences, she did not favour one religion over the other however she did quote “There is one Christ, Jesus Christ, one faith. All else is a dispute over trifles”. She tried to make the people of England happy by not persecuting a group like Mary before her did, Elizabeth believed that combining aspects of both religions into one would solve the problem. The Anglican religion would translate the once Hebrew Bible to English for the masses to read and had Catholic and Protestant rituals combined.
Another factor causing Elizabeth to create a new religion was the fact that she disliked the tension between the two groups in England; Elizabeth wanted a united country and in turn made Anglicanism one with the throne and monarch. The Marian Bishops who had been appointed by Mary before her had displayed their intolerance for Protestants. They disagreed with Elizabeth’s plan for the settlement and refused to crown her at the coronation ceremony. Bishop White referred to the returning Protestant exiles as “The wolves be coming out of Geneva and have sent their books before, full of pestilential doctrines”.
Elizabeth would not proceed with the settlement without the assistance of a parliament. A completely free election was cast for the creation of a new parliament; Elizabeth wanted to see how people felt about the religious controversy. Many Protestant sympathisers gained the vote along with Protestant refugees who had just returned from exile in Germany and Switzerland. Elizabeth could see through this turnout that the House of Common would support her in her alteration to...

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Like her father, King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I was a Protestant. When she became Queen, one of the first things it was necessary for her to do was restore the Church of England. Her half-sister, Queen Mary I, had made England a Catholic country again, undoing the work of Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, and half-brother, King Edward VI. The re-establishment of the Church of England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I is known as The Elizabethan Religious Settlement. This restoration was done by two Acts of Parliament:




This Act made Queen Elizabeth I "Supreme Governor" of the Church of England. In the reign of her father and brother, the monarch was called "Head of the Church in England", but Elizabeth favoured the title "Supreme Governor". This may have been to appease Catholics who believed the Pope was "head" of the church, or to appease those who believed a woman could not be head of the church. In the sixteenth century women were regarded as inferior to men in spiritual matters and many were uncomfortable with the idea of a woman having religious authority over a man. This Act also included an oath of loyalty to the Queen that the clergy were expected to take. If they did not take it, then they would lose their office. A High Commission was established to ensure that the oath was taken. The oath was as follows:

I A. B. do utterly testify and declare in my conscience, That the Queen's Highness is the only Supream Governor of this Realm, and of all other her Highness Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spiritual or Ecclesiastical Things or Causes, as Temporal; and that no foreign Prince, Person, Prelate State or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiority, Preheminence, or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual, within this Realm; and therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign Jurisdictions, Powers, Superiorities and Authorities, and do promote, that from henceforth I shall bear faith and true Allegiance to the Queen's Highness, her Heirs and lawful Successors, and to my Power shall assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Preheminences, Privileges and Authorities granted or belonging to the Queen's Highness, her Heirs and Successors, or united and annexed to the Imperial Crown of this Realm. So help me God, and by the Contents of this Book.


This was the crux of the Elizabethan Church, establishing a set form of worship. The Prayer books of Edward VI were fused into one, and were to be used in every church in the land. Church attendance on Sundays and holy days was made compulsory, with a twelve pence fine to be collected if people did not attend, the money to be given to the poor. The wording of the Communion was to be vague so that Protestants and Catholics could both participate, and the ornaments and vestments of the Church were to be retained as they had been before the reforms in the second year of Edward's reign. Although the passage of the Act of Supremacy through Parliament had been relatively easy, passing the Act of Uniformity was much more difficult. A large number of the Parliament, who were still Catholic, opposed the bill, and it was eventually only passed by three votes: 21 to 18.

The religious settlement began to be implemented in the summer of 1559. Despite the problems that sometimes arose, it proved to be a remarkable success.

Elizabethan Church


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