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Title: The 'personal rule' of Elizabeth I : marriage, succession and catholic conspiracy, c.1578 - c.1582
Author: Mears, Natalie
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 2000
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This study uses the Anjou marriage negotiations as a case-study of politics and policymaking in the mid-Elizabethan period. It questions Susan Doran's recent argument that Elizabeth was prevented from concluding the marriage because factional divisions in the council denied her the support she required to gain parliamentary ratification for an unpopular match. More broadly, it re-examines John Guy's argument that Elizabeth's reign can be divided into two periods (dividing c.1585-7) each with its own distinct agenda and dominant political creed. Its aim is to re-establish the integrity of the middle years of the reign on their own terms and reflect how this alters our perception of the reign as a whole. The thesis redefines the mid-Elizabethan polity in terms of political issues and creeds. It challenges the traditional emphasis of 'foreign policy' and shows the succession and catholic conspiracy continued to dominate the agenda (chapters one and two). This made Scotland the focus of policy-making: not only was it strategically crucial to English defences but Mary, and later James VI, were perceived by councillors as major threats to the realm whilst the succession remained unresolved (chapters one and five). In policymaking, the privy council did not retain its role as a corporate advisory body it had in the 1560s: Elizabeth asserted her imperium and took the lead, establishing a period of 'personal rule'. Though councillors disagreed on the substance of policy and the role of counselling, they recognised marriage was a personal issue on which they could not dictate to Elizabeth either directly or by manipulating the public debate (chapters three and four). Elizabeth ultimately chose not to marry but she was also unwilling to resolve the succession politically because it raised questions about political authority and legitimacy she was unable to resolve. This caused policy-making first to stumble in 1580 and then collapse in 1581 (chapters five and six). If the lead Elizabeth took in political debate demonstrated the strength of her 'personal rule', then her inability to find and sustain new directions in policy highlighted its weakness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available