The Elizabethan Settlement, 1559

In 1553 Mary I had abolished Protestantism in the Church of England and repealed through Parliament all of the Edwardian legislation (effectively restoring the Henrician Royal Supremacy of a Catholic Church). In 1559 Parliament restored the Royal Supremacy, but reviewed the title so that the monarch was 'supreme governor' of the Church. The Uniformity Act restored Edward VI's Prayer Book, i.e. mode of worship to be followed in Anglican churches, and importantly replaced the 1552 definition of communion with that of 1549 which implied Christ's real presence in the Eucharist (a retrogressive step for a Protestant church bringing it further towards Roman Catholicism). Elizabeth's Privy Council faced strong opposition in passing the legislation, principally from the Catholic bishops and nobility who forced concessions. The Settlement was accompanied by Royal Injunctions to the Church (1559) which were published to 'Protestantize' churches and support the re-imposition of the Book of Prayer. Visitations of churches recommenced, which led to the expulsion of around 300 clergymen. The 1559 Injunctions were based on the 1547 Injunctions, concerning the formalities of worship. However Elizabeth's Orders were less provocative in their version of the Oath of Supremacy.

In 1563 the Thirty Nine Articles (doctrine acceptable to most Calvinists) completed the Elizabethan settlement, forging a compromise that was to remain the basis of the Church of England until the 1640s. However, the Settlement was not the intended balance of Protestantism. During the 1580s challenges to the establishment emerged. Most notable was Elizabeth's reactionary views on clerical dress, which sparked the appearance of Puritans who soon disputed the form of Church government. Furthermore an outburst of radical propaganda, which was epitomised by the Marprelate Tracts (1588), satirised the Church and scathingly attacked its practices. The latter was followed by harsh reprisals during 1589-93, and led to the invigoration of the traditional conservatism of bishops. Further, Richard Hooker published a definition of the Anglican Church as an independent Protestant Church governed by bishops and the monarch, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1594-97).

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.