The religious Settlement of Elizabeth 1 - 1559
Elizabeth I quickly needed a religious settlement for Tudor England after the years of religious turmoil her subjects had experienced. This came in 1559 and is known as the Religious Settlement. However, just how much it actually settled in religious terms is open to debate as both Puritans and Catholics had become entrenched in their views and position. If religious turmoil continued after the 1559 Settlement, it was probably more as a result of their unwillingness to compromise as opposed to the government's stance though this was still obviously an issue of contention post-1559.
While Tudor society may still have had a less than positive viewpoint of women and their role in society, few doubted that Elizabeth was a queen of ability and that her intelligence and ability were as good as many men in the Privy Council. Therefore, when Elizabeth announced that there had to be a religious settlement for her people, there were no dissenters among her advisors. Elizabeth simply could not accept the notion that religious turmoil was seemingly the norm for England though this had been so in the previous thirty years and she pushed hard for a settlement that all would take on board.
Ironically the simple accession of Elizabeth in 1558 made any desire for a settlement so much more difficult. On the death of Mary and the accession of Elizabeth, many hard-line Protestants returned from mainland Europe (where they had fled for their own safety during the reign of Mary) with the full expectation that they were returning to a state where Protestantism was the one and only tolerated religion. However, many Catholics remained in England on Elizabeth's accession because of the conciliatory tone she had taken on religious issues. Both parties were bound to clash and threaten any form of religious settlement. The sudden influx of Protestants from Europe alarmed perfectly moderate Protestants and Catholics alike who had remained in England. At Mary's funeral oration, Bishop White stated:
"The wolves be coming out of Geneva and have sent their books before, full of pestilent, doctrines." London, in particular, became a base for these hardliners. It would have been very easy for them to stir up the capital's poorer population, especially if they had a scapegoat the Catholics. Elizabeth tried to control the behaviour of these men but within a very large and densely populated city, this proved to be very difficult. The Venetian Il Schifanoya, who was living in London, described in letters back to friends in Europe how hoards of men were forcefully getting into churches and preaching extreme Protestant views to those members of the public who had followed them in. Elizabeth had to issue a proclamation that stated that such acts of public disorder would not be tolerated and that any religious settlement would go through Parliament so that it had their seal of approval as well as the Queen's.