How and Why Had Elizabeth’s Policy to Catholics Changed by 1581?

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In 1559 Queen Elizabeth 1 of England passed two acts as part of the Church Settlement: The Act of Supremacy and The Act of Uniformity. With these acts she aimed to unite her countries people and avoid rebellion from each religious group. At first it seemed to have worked: The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker (a moderate protestant) was popular with most people; Only 250 out of 9000 priests refused to take the oath of loyalty to the new Church; the fines for recusancy were not strictly enforced and there were no serious protests or rebellions. By 1568 most people had accepted the new Church. However, by 1581, Elizabeth’s policy towards Catholics had changed: Now, any priest holding a Catholic service, and anyone attending it, would pay a large fine and be imprisoned for a year; fines for recusancy were increased to £20 a month and anyone who tried to persuade people to disobey Elizabeth or become a Catholic was guilty of treason. She had changed her policy for several reasons: A number of rebellions, set off by the Catholic, Mary Queen of Scots arrival in England; The St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the arrival of Catholic priests in England. There were several plots, rebellions and other disastrous events that led to Elizabeth changing her policy towards Catholics. Many of these were set off by Mary, Queen of Scots’ arrival in England in May 1658 when she fled from Scotland. This strong Catholic provided a figurehead for English Catholics to rally around and her arrival triggered a number of rebellions and plots. Firstly, in 1569 the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland gathered 6000 armed Catholic soldiers in an attempt to free Mary, overthrow Elizabeth and make England Roman Catholic once more. This was the Northern Rebellion. Luckily for Elizabeth, she was able to gather an army large enough to defeat the rebellion before it caused too much damage, but this event opened the Queen’s eyes to how angry and powerful the Catholics were becoming....
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