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Old December 4th, 2012, 03:32 AM   #11

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Who told you I was no admirer of Elizabeth? I have spent way too much time studying (at academic level) this period not to be. On the other hand, I do not fall for the feminist nonsense written about her, to which she owes much of her modern reputation. Indecisiveness becomes cunning manipulation: her failure to marry becomes a feminist desire for independence: her ultimate failure to solve the religious problems is now painted as religious tolerance and modern style "diversity".

Such notions are anachronistic and inaccurate.

I, for my part, am fascinated how you can have the nerve to dismiss Elizabeth's massacre of the Irish in one sentence, and then have the gall to offer to explain it to me. Have you studied this era properly? As an academic? Are you one of these fools who contrasts the bloody reign of Mary with nice, tolerant, harmless Elizabeth?

If I went on about Elizabeth's slaughter of the Irish, you'd accuse me of thread de-railment (again). The standard technique for those who have paper thin arguments.

If I went on about the Armada (when the gist of it is well known to most), you'd accuse me of thread de-railment (again). The standard technique for those who have paper thin arguments.

English foreign policy by the time of Elizabeth was dictated almost entirely by her RELIGIOUS position. Gone had all of Henry VIII's claims to French territory- the Christendom he knew had been changed hugely by his reformation. Why are you so surprised that "England" (Note: NOT Britain) would not tolerate "Papal and Spanish" interference in English matters? A child could work out that this would be the English attitude towards Catholics "meddling" in our affairs. That's no revelation.

You're just squirting ink now. Religion was the basis of Elizabethan politics. Religion dictated Elizabeth's legitimacy; who England's enemies were and how we dealt with them; it dictated the economy (see previous points); it dictated our Government and, above all, in a deeply religious society, it caused huge divisions, both overtly and covertly. Religion was not the side show it is today. Choosing the "wrong side" was, to their beliefs, all the difference between going to heaven or to hell.

Listen, I have an MA in Church history which encompasses this era. I don't need lessons from someone who confuses Britain with England.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 03:50 AM   #12

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Religon,religon. religon. I am no expert but Black Dog has a point. Under catholic Mary Spain was Englands friend, under protestant Elizabeth, Englands enemy. Philip even secured papal blessing for the Armada. It would seem that both foreign and domestic policy was indeed governed by religon.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:37 AM   #13
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It seems the OP was interested in the government of Elizabethan England. So, other than the Privy Council, how was the realm governed?

What was the role of Parliament? How was the Royal will applied away from the Household?

Who and what supported the Monarch in the counties and towns, and in the Marches? How and why did they give their support?

Early-modern government had two main problems: 1) lack of revenue and 2) minimal bureaucracy...the second largely a function of the first. It needed to use whatever relationships it maintained, and what mechanisms that had evolved to address its responsibilities and to serve its interests. This was crucial in the case of Elizabethan England as she was at war with Spain for almost twenty years, and had costly commitments in Ireland as well.

Protestants vs Catholics was a political issue and not a governmental one.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:07 AM   #14

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The OP was an offshoot from a discussion of the problems of Charles I. Which meant, essentially, Elizabeth's reforms of religion and the attempt to keep both Catholics and Protestants happy. Which were one source of Charles I's troubles.

Early modern English government was no worse than any other early modern European bureaucracy, neither in scope nor in intent. In other words, whilst I agree completely that it was not adequate, this was a fairly level playing field, since those of England's enemies were no better and many monarchs in Europe were facing internal struggles of their own. The fact that the end of Elizabeth's reign saw a decline in popularity and deepening economic problems should be ample indications of the problems of a weak bureaucracy and the subsequent problems like low tax revenues.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 07:25 AM   #15

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In Elizabeth I, David Loades writes:

She was a woman forced by genetic accident (or the will of God) to do a man's job, and to manage men. No other woman in England held a public office above the parochial level. Mary had set some useful legal precedents, but her whole style of government had been a warning rather than an example. Consequently Elizabeth was forced to improvise, to make up the rules as she went along. She used her sexuality, her acute brain and her sense of theatre to develop a unique method of management. She never ceased to feel vulnerable, however, which was why her control could be more than a little obsessive, and her tactics for maintaining it so devious. The motto attributed to Philip II, 'Time and I against the World' could well have been applied to Elizabeth, whose instinct was always to avoid both action and commitment for as long as possible. She also knew when her options had run out, as the treaties of Edinburgh and Nonsuch demonstrate.

In no issue of foreign policy could her prevarication and indecisiveness be said to have led to disastrous consequences for her country. On the international stage there was no better survivor. At home her achievement can only be judged with hindsight. A combination of good sense and longevity settled the church, and it was no fault of hers that confessional issues became so divisive forty years after her death. She gave her country pride, and set its commercial development on a course that was eventually to be spectacularly successful; for that she deserves more credit than she is usually given.

She failed to deal with two issues of crucial important which were to derail the regimes of her successors. having encouraged the gentry to adopt a higher and higher profile in government, she failed to find a satisfactory definition of the constitutional relationship between crown, lords and commons, although several models were offered to her by William Cecil in the course of her reign. By refusing to define it she protected her prerogative from formal limitation, but left it vulnerable to attack, as was already becoming apparent before she died. Secondly, she conspicuously failed to tackle the problem of inadequate revenue. By muddling along, and improvising from hand to mouth, she managed to survive; but the consequence was that nobody faced the fact that the crown needed a regular and substantial taxation income, even to conduct its normal peacetime operations, never mind to wage war. It was as much ignorance as extravagance or ill-will that caused the financial crises of the early Stuarts; and for that ignorance Elizabeth was to blame. Her inability to act promptly and decisively was thus more damaging at home than it was abroad. It was caused directly by her fear that Parliament, and particularly the House of Commons, would be empowered to exercise a measure of control which she believed should belong to herself alone.

Elizabeth chose for herself the motto Semper Eadem (Always the same) and in most respects that consistency served her well, both as a person and as a ruler. It also meant an unwillingness, even an inability, to embrace change. It could be said that she was so concerned to remain in charge of the ship, and to avoid the icebergs of Spanish and papal hostility, that she failed to spot the other unobtrusive rocks lying in her path. She was not on the bridge when the ship went down.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 08:19 AM   #16

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She had numerous mottoes, including "video et taceo" ("I see, and say nothing").

Elizabeth was blessed with good counsellors and advisors. and-this is important- she had the sense to listen to them.

That author is entirely wrong when he states that the religious issue she (and her advisors) failed to settle was no fault of hers. It was obvious from the outset that such a settlement did not appease or satisfy anyone, including the queen herself.

And I believe that whilst the upshot of his claim that Elizabeth's management of the economy, especially in her later days, was a failure was essentially correct, nevertheless, most other European monarchies had the same problem: how to run an advanced state with primitive tools. Hardly her failure alone.

Last edited by Black Dog; December 4th, 2012 at 09:58 AM.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #17

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
Who told you I was no admirer of Elizabeth? I have spent way too much time studying (at academic level) this period not to be. ....
I based my assumption on the fact that in you post you had not one good word to say about her. If I am wrong so be it. Do like the bit about academic level

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog
I, for my part, am fascinated how you can have the nerve to dismiss Elizabeth's massacre of the Irish in one sentence, and then have the gall to offer to explain it to me. Have you studied this era properly? As an academic? Are you one of these fools who contrasts the bloody reign of Mary with nice, tolerant, harmless Elizabeth?
I'm quite fascinated by your display of intolerance and insult. I did not dismiss Elizabeth's massacres in Ireland. What I actually said was While on the subject of the Armada, it throws a light on Elizabeth's action in Ireland. It wasn't as simple as subjugation of the Irish." That's a long way from dismissing it. It is actually acknowledging the issue was complex. Actually I have studied the era as an academic. Have I studied it properly? that's for others to judge. I'm not in the habit of strutting around saying how good I am and how everyone else speaks rubbish.
I have made no comparison between Mary and Elizabeth. If you read my post i did precisely the opposite. I said i would not enter a league able of who killed most. I admit I did use the terms "Bloody Queen Mary" and Good Queen Bess" but I was indulging in what seems alien to you, it's called humour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog
If I went on about Elizabeth's slaughter of the Irish, you'd accuse me of thread de-railment (again). The standard technique for those who have paper thin arguments.

If I went on about the Armada (when the gist of it is well known to most), you'd accuse me of thread de-railment (again). The standard technique for those who have paper thin arguments.
I accused you twice of thread de-railment? Not exactly. I made a simple and general observation that if we went in those directions we would go off thread. As to the jibes about the value of my arguments, they are your opinion and who can counter opinion?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog
English foreign policy by the time of Elizabeth was dictated almost entirely by her RELIGIOUS position. Gone had all of Henry VIII's claims to French territory- the Christendom he knew had been changed hugely by his reformation. Why are you so surprised that "England" (Note: NOT Britain) would not tolerate "Papal and Spanish" interference in English matters? A child could work out that this would be the English attitude towards Catholics "meddling" in our affairs. That's no revelation.
First point, we are at cross purposes here. You are focusing on foreign policy whereas I was talking about the government of England. Was I surprised as you state? Not so. I said that I was treating religion as just one facet of government and if we delved into your chosen field we would have to discuss English nationalism. Don't look now but your intolerance is clouding your comprehension.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog
[You're just squirting ink now. Religion was the basis of Elizabethan politics. Religion dictated Elizabeth's legitimacy; who England's enemies were and how we dealt with them; it dictated the economy (see previous points); it dictated our Government and, above all, in a deeply religious society, it caused huge divisions, both overtly and covertly. Religion was not the side show it is today. Choosing the "wrong side" was, to their beliefs, all the difference between going to heaven or to hell.
I have never belittled the influence of religion on the period but wanted to concentrate on the structure of government. To this end I started with Elizabeth's approach to the Privy Council and how it compared to other reigns. My next step was to look at the way parliament was controlled but I haven't managed to do so yet for obvious reasons. There are many other issues that dictated Elizabethan life such as vagrancy, patronage etc. Some were heavily influenced by religion but many were not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog
Listen, I have an MA in Church history which encompasses this era. I don't need lessons from someone who confuses Britain with England.
So are you asking for applause for you academic achievements? There are a few here that have a scattering of letters after their names. I have a few myself.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 03:46 AM   #18

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Foreign policy is part of the governance of England. Today, the Foreign Office is STILL a part of Government.

Your humour needs a serious upgrade. It's not funny. End of. But hey, I don't expect you to be a clown, so that's OK.

This thread was an offshoot of the Charles I thread: the one you (and only you) seemed to think was thread de-railment if we mentioned Elizabeth's religious settlement which came back to bite Charles on the arse ? You said nothing about "structure".

If you want to de-rail your own thread and talk about structure, be my guest. But if you're being honest, you KNOW that very little in Elizabeth's reign happened without some sort of religious slant.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:06 AM   #19

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pikeshot1600 View Post
It seems the OP was interested in the government of Elizabethan England. So, other than the Privy Council, how was the realm governed?

What was the role of Parliament? How was the Royal will applied away from the Household?

Who and what supported the Monarch in the counties and towns, and in the Marches? How and why did they give their support?

Early-modern government had two main problems: 1) lack of revenue and 2) minimal bureaucracy...the second largely a function of the first. It needed to use whatever relationships it maintained, and what mechanisms that had evolved to address its responsibilities and to serve its interests. This was crucial in the case of Elizabethan England as she was at war with Spain for almost twenty years, and had costly commitments in Ireland as well.

Protestants vs Catholics was a political issue and not a governmental one.
In Daily Life in Elizabethan England, Jeffrey L. Singman writes:

The government of England centered on the figure of the monarch, who relied heavily on her Privy Council for the day-to-day running of the country. The monarch, and the Council acting in the monarch's name, had some power to issue decress enforceable at law, but the exact extent of these powers was ill-defined. This constitutional ambiguity led to bloody results in the 1640s when King Charles and his Parliament came to civil war over the issue of the king's authority.

The most comprehensively powerful organ of government was the monarch sitting in Parliament: a bill passed by Parliament and assented to by the monarch was the highest legal authority in the land. Parliament was divided into two hourses; the House of Lords, consisting of approximately 65 lay peers, 22 bishops, and the country's 2 archbishops (Canterbury and York); and the House of Commons, consisting of 2 representatives chosen from each of England's 39 shires, 2 from each of about 65 English cities and towns (with some exceptions, including London, which sent 4) as well as a single representative from each of 12 Welsh shires and 1 each from 12 Welsh towns, for a total of about 450 representatives. The exact means by which the representatives were chosen depended on the shire or town, but in the shires any holder of lands worth 40 shillings a year was entitled to vote.

In general, the institutions of Elizabethan government seem haphazard by modern standards. The basic unit of governmental organization in both town and country was the parish. Each parish had its own officials, such as a constable who was responsible for basic law enforcement, ale-conners who ensured that the laws regulating the quality of ale were observed, and churchwardens who were responsible for the state of the parish church. In towns there were also scavengers who oversaw public sanitation.

The actual bureaucracy was small and woefully underfunded. This meant that the governmental apparatus required extensive participation by the citizenry. Great lords might serve in the Privy Council or in major offices of the state, army, or navy; local gentlemen were vital in administrating the individual shires; and even ordinary craftsmen, yeomen, and husbandmen might be called upon to serve in minor local offices of the village, town, or parish. At the same time, this kind of unpaid work was a cause of governmental corruption; men who had to spend considerable time and money on an unsalaried government office would frequnetlyu find other ways to make the post profitable.
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Old December 8th, 2012, 09:02 PM   #20

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Thank you Pikeshot for articulating my intent. I was beginning to think I had been too vague. I shall endeavour to explain in simple terms how Elizabethan government operated. Local government was a real dog's breakfast and will take some sorting out.
Also thank you Louise for the two extracts. They help to flesh out my efforts.
I shall concentrate on the lower house, the Commons, because this was the most difficult for Elizabeth to control and, of course was the downfall of Charles.
As Loades says Elizabeth encouraged the gentry to a higher profile in government but this carried dangers. Elizabeth strove for religious equilibrium and the Commons were staunch Protestants. But Elizabeth needed them mostly to settle her financial demands and so was forced from time to time to convene them. There were of course other reasons which I can discuss if required.Most would know that Elizabethan Parliament was nothing like the permanent legislative body we have today. Her first and simple tactic was to call them as seldom as possible and as short a period as possible. During her entire reign of forty four years Parliament assembled ten times and for thirteen sessions. The shortest lasted , in 1546, was four weeks and two days, the longest in 1559 was fourteen weeks and six days which included ten days recess at Easter. There was an average of three years between Parliaments and the total time Parliament was active was less than three years in total.
The Queen alone had the power to summons ,prorogue and dismiss them and this shows she considered them a necessary evil to be avoided where possible. She knew the Protestant gentry saw Parliaments as assemblies where they could discuss great questions of the day such as religion and succession to the throne.
Her first and most obvious control was her powers as monarch. She could veto any bill she did not like and was, on occasion, prepared to do so. She also had the power to imprison unruly members and was not above doing so. But she saw this a too confrontational and so her reliance on the Privy Council.
They controlled the committee system. All bills went to committee after a second reading and the Council made sure it was present on every committee in large enough numbers.
In every day business they were present and were seated close to the Speaker. This gave them advantage in controlling debate. But whilst the Speaker was theoretically elected from the floor of the house, it was the Council, meeting before Parliament that decided who would be Speaker.
I should add another control. Parliamentary business was forbidden discussion outside of Parliament. The aim was simple. It restricted Parliamentarians forming factions and more importantly talking to the mob and stirring up religious unrest.

Last edited by viking; December 8th, 2012 at 09:08 PM.
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