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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

The settlement under elizabeth


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER IV.

THE SETTLEMENT UNDER ELIZABETH.[518]

Mary Tudor's health had long been frail, and when it was known for certain that she would leave no direct heir (i.e. from about June 1558), the people of England were silently coming to the conclusion that Elizabeth must be Queen, or civil war would result. It seemed also to be assumed that she would be a Protestant, and that her chief adviser would be William Cecil, who had been trained in statecraft as secretary to England's greatest statesman, the Lord Protector Somerset. So it fell out.

Many things contributed to create such expectations. The young intellectual life of England was slowly becoming Protestant. Both the Spanish ambassadors noticed this with alarm, and reported it to their master.[519] This was especially the case among the young ladies of the upper classes, who were becoming students learned in Latin, Greek, and Italian, and at the same time devout Protestants, with a distinct leaning to what afterwards became Puritanism. Elizabeth herself, at her most impressionable age had been the pupil of Bishop Hooper, who was accustomed to praise her intelligence. "In religious matters she has been saturated ever since she was born in a bitter hatred to our faith," said the Bishop of Aquila.[520] The common people had been showing their hatred of Romanism, and "images and religious persons

were treated disrespectfully." It was observed that Elizabeth "was very much wedded to the people and thinks as they do," and that "her attitude was much more gracious to the common people than to others."[521] The burnings of the Protestant martyrs, and especially the execution of Cranmer, had stirred the indignation of the populace of London and the south counties against Romanism, and the feelings were spreading throughout the country. All classes of the people hated the entire subjugation of English interests to those of Spain during the late reign, just as the people of Scotland at the same time were growing weary of French domination under Mary of Lorraine, and Elizabeth shared the feeling of her people.[522]

Yet there was so much in the political condition of the times to make both Elizabeth and Cecil pause before committing themselves to the Reformation, that it is necessary to believe that religious conviction had a great influence in determining their action. England was not the powerful nation in 1558-60 which it became after twenty years under the rule of the great Queen. The agrarian troubles which had disturbed the three reigns of Henry VIII., Edward, and Mary had not died out. The coinage was still as debased as it had been in the closing years of Henry VIII. Trade was stagnant, and the country was suffering from a two years' visitation of the plague. The war with France, into which England had been dragged by Spain, had not merely


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