THE EMERGENCE OF A BRITISH STATE SYSTEM, 1560–84
The 20 months from the accession of Queen Elizabeth to the treaty of Edinburgh and the Scottish Reformation Parliament saw the establishment of Protestant regimes in both British monarchies. Conversely, religious differences gradually undermined traditional ties both between England and Spain and between Scotland and France, so erecting an ideological barrier between the British kingdoms and the leading monarchies of continental Europe. The political unification of the British Isles and the creation of a British multiple monarchies had, in retrospect, appeared to constitute Elizabeth's legacy to her British successors. The exclusion of religious conservatives and the subsequent decline of the magnate element thus left a ruling group of committed Protestants, with a common political and ideological outlook. The evidence of widespread collusion between Gaelic clansmen and Old English landowners in a seemingly general Catholic conspiracy provided New English officials with an excellent opportunity to discredit the entire Old English political community.