Jeanette is a member of Randolph Protestant Reformed Church in Randolph, Wisconsin. She wrote this paper for an 8th grade Language assignment at Faith Christian School.
Queen Elizabeth I of England helped spread the Protestant religion throughout England. Though she faced many difficulties, she continued to press on. Elizabeth helped the cause of the Reformation and promoted Protestantism in England by rooting the majority of the Catholic religion out of her realm and restoring the Protestant religion to England.
Elizabeth I was born on September 7, 1533, to Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII’s first wife had been executed on the charge of adultery; Anne Boleyn was also executed on that same charge. After Elizabeth’s mother was beheaded, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. At this time, she was only three years old (Southgate). Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, brought Elizabeth back into the court where Sir Thomas Cranmer and other tutors taught her of the Protestant religion (Elizabeth I, Encarta Encyclopedia).
After Henry VIII died, his son Edward VI took the throne. He was a weak and sickly king, but he spread Protestantism throughout his realm. He died when he was very young. After Edward VI died, Mary, Elizabeth’s half-sister, the daughter of Henry’s first wife, became queen of England. She was a devout Catholic and wanted to restore the Catholic religion to England. Mary was always suspicious of Elizabeth and they did not get along well because they were of two different religions. During Mary’s reign however, Elizabeth pretended to be a Catholic by going to Mass and practicing other Catholic customs. However, Mary was still suspicious of her. She once had Elizabeth thrown into prison because she thought that Elizabeth had been a part of an uprising against the throne. These charges were never proven. In 1558, Mary died, and Elizabeth became queen of England (Southgate).
When Elizabeth came to the throne, the people rejoiced because they had been subject to oppression and persecution under Mary. She was often called “Good Queen Bess,” and the people of England loved her (Southgate). She was a very smart woman and enjoyed music and learning different languages. Her reign is often called the Golden Age because of the many accomplishments and reforms during her reign (Thomas, 234).
Elizabeth had many important decisions to make. She had to decide if England would remain Catholic or become Protestant. During her reign, she signed the Supremacy Act, which said that the king or queen of England was the head of the Church of England and the pope was no longer head of the Church of England. Also, she revised the Prayer Book, and the Forty-two Articles was changed to the Thirty-nine Articles. Many changes were made throughout the doctrine, worship and government of the Church. These many changes are referred to as the Elizabethan Settlement. These changes firmly established the Church of England (Kuiper, 228).
Actually, Elizabeth did not care for religion; she loved ritual. The Anglican Church in England wanted a more complete reformation, but Elizabeth did not want this. She passed the Act of Uniformity in 1571, because she wanted uniformity in her whole realm. Some of the clergy members who wanted this reformation refused to sign this document; they were called Puritans or Non-Conformists. Elizabeth despised statements written against the throne—she resented John Knox, the Scottish reformer, because he wrote a pamphlet against women in control of the government (Hanko, 310).
Elizabeth never married, for she believed it would do her no good. Because she never married she is often referred to as the “Virgin Queen.” She used her single status as a political tool. She made many friendships however, and by her many friendships she avoided war with Spain for a time, for many in Spain supported the Protestant cause (Slavin).
The Catholics in the English realm believed that Elizabeth was illegitimate and that her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who was a Catholic, should be queen of England. Elizabeth’s servants knew that Mary would try to take over the throne. They tried to capture her, but Mary fled to England where she was kept a prisoner and protected by Elizabeth, for Elizabeth could not restore her to the Scottish throne and she could not let her reign in France where there was unlimited support against Elizabeth. However, Mary was suspected of a plot against Elizabeth’s life, and soon after Elizabeth reluctantly signed a warrant for her execution (Thomas, 235).
In the Netherlands, the Spanish ruled the people. Elizabeth sent an army over to the Dutch Protestants to help them out because they were being persecuted under the Inquisition. She also told her “sea dogs” (pirates) to continue to raid Spanish ships. This angered Philip, the king of Spain, and he prepared an “Invincible Armada” that would destroy the English. The English ships were built better and carried more and better guns. The two sides had about the same number of ships, but the English fleet destroyed the Spanish fleet in 1588 (Slavin). After the defeat of the Armada, Elizabeth said, “I think foul scorn that Parma [a city in northern Italy] or Spain or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm. I myself will take up arms” (Thomas, 233). Even after this, the war continued with Spain for sixteen years.
With the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the Dutch gained more religious freedom. Elizabeth helped them as much as she could, even though many of the Catholics plotted to kill her. However, even forty years after Elizabeth’s death, the Dutch Protestants were still being oppressed and persecuted. During this time a group of Separatists were forming; this group would later go to America. Elizabeth took a great interest in the starting of these new churches (Hanko, 310).
At the end of her reign, Elizabeth was no longer as popular with the people because they felt that she abused the royal power and spent too much money. Also, her policies became weaker. Ireland revolted against her. “She spent the last years of her life unhappy and alone, having outlived a glorious age, the beginning of the history of what would become modern England. She died in London on March 23, 1603” (Elizabeth I, Encarta Encyclopedia).
Elizabeth helped the Protestant cause greatly. She brought many changes and great reform throughout her realm. Although many plotted against her, she continued to help the Dutch and spread the Protestant religion throughout England by the work of many great reformers.