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Title: The religious policy of the Cecils, 1588-1598
Author: Richardson, William Boys
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1993
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The thesis examines the Cecils contribution to three areas of religious policy during 1588-98: the control of protestant non-conformity; the loyalty of lay catholics; and the political and financial management of the episcopate. Lord Burghley (William Cecil) supported strong measures against protestant separatists, but opposed Archbishop Whitgift's suppression of moderate puritanism. His criticism of the authoritarian claims of the church hierarchy won limited support from Elizabeth I, but when Whitgift pressed for the exemplary execution of leading separatists - against Burghley's will - the archbishop prevailed. The thesis argues, however, that at this same moment (April 1593) Burghley outmanoeuvred Whitgift in parliament by securing an anti-separatist statute that protected moderate puritans. Burghley's central role in anti-catholic policy is shown to have reached a peak during 1590-93, to be replaced by a climate from 1594 in which councillors resisted his calls for the creation of ever-harsher sanctions against recusants. Burghley's justifications of this policies were rejected by Sir Thomas Tresham, and it is suggested that, increasingly, councillors began to re-assess the coherence and effectiveness of Burghley's measures. The period also saw widespread changes among bishops in the established church: almost half the bench was replaced during 1594-98. Robert Cecil is shown - with Whitgift - to have been the main political patron in this process, and on occasion to have outwitted Burghley in pursuit of his own ends. Moreover, Cecil is also revealed as the crown's main agent (with Burghley's cooperation) in the diversion of church wealth to the county gentry, despite the resistance offered by some bishops. It is concluded that the religious policies of Burghley, Cecil and Whitgift were held in a balance, and that this reflected the tensions of a decade which saw the beginnings of significant change in later Reformation politics.
Supervisor: White, B. R. ; Williams, Penry Sponsor: Trustees of the Estate of Miss Elizabeth Allen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Great Britain--Religion--16th century ; Religion and state--Great Britain--History--16th century ; Burghley, William Cecil, Baron, 1520-1598 ; Salisbury, Robert Cecil, Earl of, 1563-1612 ; Church and state--Great Britain--History--16th century