Elizabeth I's Role in the Success of the British Angelican Church

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`The Elizabethan Church Settlement succeeded in the years 1559-1566 because of Elizabeth I's vital role in its development'.

Examine this view.

Elizabeth came to the throne in November 1558 and faced a hugely complex religious situation. Her country was fractured into different religious groups, Protestant and Catholic. The Protestants were then further divided into the extent to which they wished reform to be taken. The Settlement aimed to find a way to bring these different lobbies together without alienating any and settle a blanket theology for the country. It is hard to judge whether the Settlement was successful for Elizabeth. If the Queen was Catholic then it could be argued that the Settlement was in fact not a success for
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France and Spain, the two traditionally Catholic powers in Europe could have intervened in the English religious changes. Had they done so, the Settlement would almost certainly have been either removed entirely or at least amended to suit them; England was by no means strong enough to defend herself against a combined attack of that magnitude. However, Philip II needed to maintain an alliance with England as his chief concern was that a combined French and Scottish attack on England might succeed and cut off his access to the channel; his communication route with the Spanish Netherlands. As a consequence he was prepared to support a Protestant country and refrain from intervention. With this support France was discouraged from involvement and as the Pope had not excommunicated Elizabeth by 1566, the situation did not promote interference. In this way, advantageous circumstances and not Elizabeth herself aided the survival of the Religious Settlement between 1559 and 1566.

The terms of the Settlement were ambiguous and open to interpretation in order to allow compromise. This was needed to achieve stability. The Settlement itself imposed the 1552 Prayer Book, revised slightly under the Act of Uniformity (1559); Communion was changed to omit the Black Rubric of 1552. This allowed conservatives to interpret the sentences as indicating the presence. The 1559 Act of Supremacy made Elizabeth the Supreme Governor and not the Head of the Church, which placated

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