Cool asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 5 years ago

Did Queen Elizabeth I persecute the Catholics?

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  • 5 years ago
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    By an Act of Parliament of 1559 Elizabeth was made "supreme governor" of the realm "in all spiritual and ecclesiastical things", in other words, head of the Church as well as of the State. During the early years of her reign no great pressure was put on Catholics to conform to the "Established Church" of the new regime, but the situation changed rapidly from about 1570 onwards, mainly as a result of various events in England.

    First there was the Northern Rising of 1569, an unsuccessful rebellion by Catholics in the north of England seeking the restoration of Catholicism and the release of the imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots, the Catholic cousin of Elizabeth and in Catholic eyes the rightful heir to the English throne. Then in 1570 Pope St Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth and released her subjects from their allegiance to her, which naturally increased the English government's hostility towards Catholics. Shortly after, from 1574 onwards, priests from the newly founded seminaries overseas—at Douai and Rome and in Spain—began to arrive in England, and the first Jesuit missionaries came in 1580. The activities of this new generation of priests alarmed the government and the result was that severe laws against Catholics, the "penal laws", were soon enacted. An Act of Parliament of 1581 made reconciliation to the Catholic Church treason, and another Act in 1585 "against Jesuits and seminary priests", the most infamous of all these laws, proscribed as treason the very presence of a Catholic priest in England and made it felony for anyone to shelter or assist him. Treason and felony were capital crimes and thus many Catholics were to suffer death under these laws.

    Finally, in 1588 there was the Spanish Armada, which carried an army intended for the invasion of England and the overthrow of the Protestant Queen and her regime. The expedition failed, but for English Protestants it was the ultimate proof that the Pope and Spain were in league with English Catholics against them and that the returning priests and those to whom they ministered were the agents of foreign powers organizing, a fifth column in their country. The repressive anti-Catholic laws were now enforced rigorously, and thus during the last thirty years or so of the sixteenth century English Catholics underwent the longest period of sustained persecution in their history. Of the present eighty-five martyrs, sixty-eight suffered in these years, between 1584 and 1601, i.e. forty-eight priests (including one Dominican and two Jesuits) and twenty laymen, all except two condemned under the new Elizabethan laws.

  • 5 years ago

    Yes. She had several Bishops, who had been apponited by her Catholic sister, burned at the stake. She was more or less forced to be anti-Catholic, because, in the eyes of Rome, she was illegitimate and therefore could not be Queen.

  • 5 years ago

    she did after the pope excommunicated her an announced that it was not a sin to murder her. This understandably annoyed her, and made her very wary of catholics. it was not a good move by the pope, as it just made things a lot worse for English catholics.

  • 5 years ago

    The Catholics outside the country kept on attacking her, and the Catholics inside the country were plotting against her. If they had just left her alone, and behaved themselves, it would all have been OK.

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