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Elizabeth I: The Privy Council - faction?

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Chris Cook

on 17 November 2010

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Transcript of Elizabeth I: The Privy Council - faction?

Elizabeth was in control of Faction: 1560-90 Elizabeth wasn't in control of faction: There was no faction: Methods of Control: Elizabeth took part in discussions to prevent the Council agreeing on formal advice that she would later reject. When it came to discussing policy Elizabeth did not talk to the Council as a whole, but instead held talks either one-on-one or in small groups to assert her authority.
Elizabeth got angry or even violent!
o Exclusion from court [Leicester and Walsingham]
o House arrest [Arundel]
o Imprisonment [Davison and Croft]
o Execution [Norfolk and Essex]

Took outside advice – especially from foreign ambassadors
Elizabeth kept accurate notes with which to catch out her councillors
Elizabeth promoted divisions amongst her councillors, so that they were competing for rewards
Elizabeth used her affection Point: Make-up of the first council: Membership came from 3 social groups:
1) Magnates, hereditary peerage
– e.g. Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Worcester
2) Country Gentry
– e.g. Sir Francis Knollys, Sir Christopher Hatton
3) Men of Business – men recruited for ability not birth
– e.g. William Cecil, Nicholas Bacon

• Marian Catholics: Earl of Shrewsbury
• Edwardian Protestant: Sir Edward Rogers, Knollys
• Family member links: Knollys – relative of Anne Boleyn;
Lord Howard of Effingham – Elizabeth’s great uncle We can see that Elizabeth was in control of faction.
Looked to maintain a balance by providing patronage to both sides.
With this patronage the sides were able to build up power, and groups of followers.
Elizabeth controlled the sides by giving each equal amounts of patronage, which meant that neither side got too powerful, and neither side became jealous of the other.
This offerered Elizabeth loyalty from the factions, since they were dependent on her continued offering of patronage for their power.
Also, this enabled her to choose from two differing views on a number of subjects, as each side would offer opposing views. This meant that Elizabeth can pick and choose exactly what she wanted to do. William Cecil/Burghley vs Dudley/Leicester period: Evidence: Netherlands: 1578 Cecil wanted to stay out of any conflict, because he did not want England embroiled in any European based, Protestant war, as it would be highly expensive.
Leicester on the other hand, was more aggressive and Protestant. He wanted to push England’s claim as the defender of Protestantism in Europe, and therefore wanted to help the Netherlands against Catholicism.
Elizabeth was thus able to support Cecil as she played for time, before sending troops in 1585, only when the Dutch position became untenable. Marriage Issue: 1567 Council was split over the marriage of Elizabeth to Catholic archduke Charles of Austria.
Leicester opposed as he would lose his power as favourite. He uses religion against the marriage.
Cecil, Norfolk and Sussex in favour as they just wanted Elizabeth to get married and have an heir!
Elizabeth able to side with Leicester and refuse Charles’ hand. Unsuccessful:
On the other hand, during this period we could see how in actual fact the ‘factions’ got on with each other for the majority of the time, since they had the same aim – maintain and extend the power of England. In actual fact Elizabeth was not totally successful in handling faction, since for the great part they got on. [historiography - show historical opinion]. On top of this, when the factions have the same opinion, and push this idea, then she is forced into certain choices.
During this period we can argue that Elizabeth was unable to control her factions, who actually forced her into making decisions that she did not want to make.
Indeed, a lot of the time, the 'factions' merely got on with each other, and in reality the only disagreements that they had were those of personal difference that one sees in any political situation.
On top of this, when the factions had the same opinion, and pushed that idea, Elizabeth could not resist her Council. Naunton’s evidence more a reflection on the poor state of Stuart times, rather than the success of Elizabethan England. Marriage: 1579 Mary Queen of Scots: 1586 Warfare nearly breaks out between the groups according to Christopher Haigh, as Elizabeth was unable to control them. Leicester's followers wore purple ribbons at Court and Sussex's wore yellow.
Queen did broker an end to the feud in 1566 but not before 'civil war had seemed the likely outcome'. Elizabeth unable to control faction in 1560s-70s: Elizabeth did not want to kill her Cousin, since she was a monarch, and thus appointed by God. Therefore, Elizabeth refused her Council’s idea.
However, in the end, the Council worked against her, and managed to get her to sign a death warrant, and passed it; which was probably not what she wanted to happen! Duke of Alencon issue – Cecil in favour, but Leicester spread rumours and turned the public against the idea, so Elizabeth did not have a choice.
Historians suggest that she was interested – however, Leicester was against the marriage, since if she married then Leicester would lose his position as favourite and thus his position, which was dependent on patronage.
Haigh suggests this was the same as when Cecil worked against the Dudley marriage in 1560. Naunton’s evidence false: Evidence: Point: Point: Elizabeth was actually manipulated by Cecil and the Privy Council, who generally got on pretty well. This was because they were determined to maintain England as a strong Protestant state; whilst they also desired to help the queen, who as a woman they believed needed more help. This was based on many councillors having served under the minor, Edward VI, and now they wanted to continue in their powerful role.
Council worked to make sure that Mary would never bring Catholicism to the throne of England. Mary Queen of Scots: 1586 Evidence:
Ways in which Councillors protected Protestant England Bond of Association: 1584-5 Cecil and Walsingham worked to protect a Protestant line to the throne, by getting important men of England to sign the Bond of Association.
The document obliged all signatories to execute any person that:
attempted to usurp the throne
successfully usurped the throne
made an attempt on Elizabeth's life
successfully assassinated Elizabeth
In the latter case, it also made it obligatory for the signatories to hunt down the killer Scotland: 1560 Cecil pushed intervention in Scotland so that he could create a Protestant British Empire; this would keep Mary Queen of Scots out of Scotland, and protect England. Religious Settlement: 1559 Cecil in control of the bills of Supremacy and Uniformity - trying to create a strong Protestant nation.
See this in Court pulpits being packed with returned Marian exiles like Richard Cox and other loyal Protestants like Matthew Parker
It was Cecil who organised the Religious Disputation that lead to the two Catholic Bishops being imprisoned before the important Lords vote. Was Elizabeth in control of Faction? 1590-1603 Robert Cecil vs Essex period: Point: Evidence: Evidence: Point: Elizabeth successfully controlled Privy Council: Elizabeth unsuccessfully controlled Privy Council: Most historians argue that Elizabeth was not successful in this period – with her poor management leading to the Essex rebellion in 1601. Deaths Leicester in 1588, Walsingham 1590, Sir Christopher Hatton 1591, Burghley eventually died in 1598 after years of illness – these men not replaced, leading to a very narrow Privy Council.
This was made worse by Elizabeth’s increasing age, and loss of control over England. Fading glory and noticeably less competent monarch.
Unpopular at court, rewards of patronage outstripped by inflation and parliamentary taxation becoming a burden because of war with Spain.
Unpopular with population at large. They blame rising costs on monopolies, fear being forced to serve as soldiers or sailors in one of the expeditions, poor harvest between 1594-96. Why was there a loss of control? Robert Cecil
The slow rise of Robert Cecil to power, meant that he used patronage to his advantage in order to accrue finance.
Politically educated and astute – trained to take over from his father.

Earl of Essex
Whilst the Earl of Essex was determined to build his honour and glory by fighting foreign wars, which he pushed continually.
Charming and clever but also greedy and ambitious – didn’t know how to play the political game.
Felt more and more cut out of the political scene, in the 1590s as he was unable to force Elizabeth to carry out his wishes. Who did factions grow up around? Essex becomes frustrated by the queen concerning the appointment of Sir George Carew as Deputy of Ireland, and when he turns his back to the Queen, she boxes his ears. Essex wants an aggressive foreign policy against the Catholics, but Elizabeth refuses, siding with Cecil, favouring a cheaper maritime policy. Aggressive Foreign Policy: 1591: Essex attempts to influence political positions; he tries to get Sir Robert Sidney appointed Lord Chamberlain, and Lord Warden of the Cinque ports - both given to the Cobham family. Then staked his reputation on gaining the office of Attorney-General for Sir Francis Bacon – but these are refused. Influencing Royal Appointments: 1596: Influencing Patronage: 1598: Essex's Rebellion: 1601 Essex finally got his way, and was sent to Ireland to stop the rebellion with 17,000 men. He failed, and made a truce against the orders of Elizabeth.
Elizabeth thus refused Essex’s Sweet Wine Monopoly in September 1600, which was an essential source of income for Essex; especially as he was £16,000 in debt.
With some strong supporters in the Earls of Southampton and Bedford, Essex mounted a rebellion in 1601 to try to re-assert his position. Essex mounted a rebellion in 1601 to try to assert his position. It failed; he had his head chopped off.
Arguments that Elizabeth pushed Essex into it as she refused to see him...
With Essex’s death, now Robert Cecil’s faction was without opposition and dominated the Privy Council. There is the alternative opinion of historians that the disintegration of Elizabeth’s control has been overcooked.
In actual fact the situation in the 1590s was not as bad a picture as has been painted, and Elizabeth showed astute political manoeuvres. In Wales local studies suggest that the distinction between the Cecil faction and Essex faction has perhaps been exaggerated by historians - extreme supporters were the exception rather than the rule. The ‘Golden speech’ to her 1601 parliament shows her political ability – she drew back mass support, making many men weep! Golden Speech: 1601 Problems in the 1590s seem to stem from Essex’s political immaturity – only with his coup does factionalism disintegrate. See this in the examples to the left – he challenged the monarch’s power, which couldn’t be tolerated.
In this respect Essex actually forced the Queen into giving more power to Cecil than she perhaps wanted to. This seems realistic, since she gave Essex plenty of opportunity to settle down into royal service, in the hope that she could create a two-faction system.
Therefore, it could be argued that Elizabeth actually handle the factions well, and by cutting off Essex’s money supply with the removal of his sweet wine licence and removing him from politics, Elizabeth displayed acute political understanding to remove a threat to stability. Essex to blame for the political problems: Evidence that the Cecil faction did not look to exclude the Essex faction from politics; they regularly met half-way, appointing ‘neutral’ candidates, which demonstrated a sound relationship between the groups - suggests that Elizabethan politics not that troubled in the 1590s.
Indeed, Burghley was himself one of Essex's guardians and early patrons Cecil and Essex faction got on: Evidence of more local studies: What do we mean by successful control? Elizabeth got what she wanted - she prevented external problems with foreign Catholics, and internal issues within her country.
Elizabeth maintained an equilibrium between her Privy Councillors.
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