The Elizabethan Settlement, 1558–68
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The Elizabethan Settlement, 1558–68 book
The Elizabethan settlement created a Church protestant in doctrine, traditional in organisation, and subject not to a lay pope but to the queen-governor in parliament. The young woman of twenty-five who ascended the throne of England on 17 November 1558 presented a much more formidable figure than her devout and blundering half-sister. At Elizabeth's accession England was unbelievably weak. Her military strength had declined so disastrously that she entirely depended on the international situation for the minimum of national safety. Gloomy and hopeful prognostications that Elizabeth had let herself in for trouble were disappointed: France and Spain had been too preoccupied with matters nearer home to intervene—France with the growing divisions between religious parties, and Spain with troubles in the Mediterranean and Burgundian parts of her empire. The immediate problem confronting the government was that of religion. The death of Mary left England technically catholic and reunited to Rome, but whether this would last depended on the new queen.