Walker, Bethany E. (2018) THE RISE OF ANTI-CATHOLICISM IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND 1558-1603. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.
Abstract

This thesis, on the rise of anti-Catholic policy, language, and literature in Elizabethan England, is a chronological study of the most influential events of Elizabeth’s reign, from the instigation of her Elizabethan Settlement in 1558 to the end of her reign in 1603. It will examine the legislative measures set out across her reign, going on to examine the textual and physical responses they prompted. There are two key questions to be answered throughout the course of this thesis. Firstly, to what extent does anti-Catholicism change throughout the course of the Elizabethan Age? And secondly, how does Elizabeth’s own opinion change towards Catholics as a result of the major events of her reign?

Throughout the course of this discussion it will be shown that although at the beginning of her reign Elizabeth showed remarkably little anti-Catholicism (at least not when compared to the more radical Protestants present in her government) as her reign progressed she became increasingly suspicious towards her Catholic subjects. We will discover that by the end of her reign she had thoroughly aligned herself with the anti-Catholic stance that her government had taken from the start. So too it will be revealed that anti-Catholicism was present in the Elizabethan Government from the very beginning, and indeed its origins went further back than the start of Elizabeth’s reign, though the intensity and support grew exponentially as a result of both Protestant propaganda, and Catholic rebellion.

Aspects of Elizabeth’s reign such as the early legislation, the Protestant propaganda, Elizabeth’s excommunication from the Catholic church, and the Catholic plots against Elizabeth’s life, together with existing discourses from notable historians and first-hand accounts will serve to demonstrate the changing scope of anti-Catholicism throughout the latter half of the sixteenth century, and will be the events around which the analysis of anti-Catholicism in Elizabeth’s reign will be discussed.

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