“The Puritans Were Never A Serious Threat To Elizabeth” How Far Do You Agree?

1148 words - 5 pages

The rise of Puritan ideology in Elizabeth I’s Church and Government was potentially an extremely dangerous threat to her power. Although it may be perceived that Elizabeth was continuing to control her position soundly, it does not mean that the Puritans did not pose a threat to royal authority. Nonetheless, attempts to promote Puritan ideas were indeed crushed quickly and effectively by Elizabeth, which meant that the movement never got the chance to develop into anything highly damaging and serious. Despite this, it would be wrong to say that the Puritans never caused havoc or danger to the Queen herself and the Church. This will be exampled by 3 documents which highlight the Queen’s rapid ...view middle of the document...

She had no intention of relinquishing control over her church, or of giving in to pressure for further reform.” This supports the idea that Elizabeth’s quite extreme actions may depict an image of panic and struggle but were in fact her way of imprinting her authority. On the other hand, historian J.E Neale argues for the rise of a Puritan parliamentary opposition, known as the “Puritan Choir” which follows the notion that the Puritan movement was close to seizing power and were a direct threat the Queen’s supremacy.
Elizabeth I is known as a strong and powerful woman who did not stand for disobedience or rebellion. However, the rise of the Puritans was certainly a challenge, on the surface she may have seemed calm and collected but underneath the strain was apparent. Source 5 reveals Elizabeth’s uneasiness about the situation as she writes to Matthew Parker “We thought until this present…these errors have been stayed and appeased. But perceiving very lately…doth rather begin to increase…against the laws, good usages and ordinances of our realm, to be reformed and repressed.” Her nervous and rather annoyed tone indicates her panic. She is writing in urgency that this needs to be repressed now. From this letter we can gather that Elizabeth thought the situation was under control but now the Puritans seem to be causing her grief and worry. They indeed were posing a threat. Conversely, G. R. Elton argues that “England was far from puritan, but it was becoming more definitely protestant, and in this movement the extremists naturally took the lead”. Arguably if the Puritan threat had been as serious as some of these historians suggest, civil war would have broken out much sooner. However, this didn’t happen during Elizabeth I’s reign and so clearly she remained in control and handled the situation skilfully in order to maintain stability as much as possible. Guy sums this up saying: “Irrespective of Elizabeth's private faith, she maintained a vice-like grip on the Church of England and on the pace of change”. Therefore, the threat that the Puritans posed was significant enough to be acknowledged and dealt with severely but did not reach a reform or unhinging of Elizabeth’s reign.
Furthermore, the Puritans were a challenge to Elizabeth, especially as the movement progressed. A...

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