In the Years Between 1547-1558, English Government Was at Its Most Effective During the Rule of Mary I

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  • Topic: Edward VI of England, Government, Policy
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“In the years 1547-1558, English government was at its most effective during the rule of Mary I” How valid is this statement? (45 marks)

Government is the governing body of a nation, and during Tudor England, the government was the monarch, due to royal prerogative. Also, for a government to be classed as effective, it must have been successful in achieving a desired outcome. I believe that Edward was a more effective monarch than Mary between 1550 and 1553 due to the work of Northumberland, because during this time the government had effective financial, foreign and religious policies, and an effective internal security. An effective foreign policy could be described as making alliances, gaining land with beneficial resources and wealth, and not getting invaded, all of which Edward succeeded whilst having Northumberland as his advisor. During the period of 1547-1549, Edward’s regent, Somerset, created a rather unsuccessful and ineffective foreign policy, with him not gaining an alliance with France and his Scottish foreign policy failing. Somerset did try to gain an alliance with Scotland, which would have gained security benefits for Edward, because he was a minor and with Mary Stuart marrying the French heir, France had an opportunity to challenge England’s regency government. However, peace would have been better for the economy and stability during the royal minority, rather than an active foreign policy. Heard argues that Somerset really had to take up the war against Scotland left by Henry VIII in order to see it through to its end, the marriage of Edward VI and Mary Stuart. However, Houlbrooke disagrees and believes Somerset intended that his great achievement would be the Scottish marriage and then he would hold Scotland with permanent garrisons of English and mercenary troops; he did not have to follow Henry VIII’s policy. Overall, Somerset’s foreign policy had politically failed because his obsession with Scotland had influenced him to delay dealing with the rebellions in England and the Franco-Scottish alliance and major shortage of money meant that England could never win. Under the rule of Edward during 1551-1553, with Northumberland being his regent, there was effective foreign policy in practice, with alliances being made with France on terms in the Treaty of Boulogne, where the French bought back Boulogne and a marriage was arranged between Edward and Henry II’s daughter. Also, Northumberland was careful to keep England neutral in 1552, which meant relations were improved with Charles V and trade resumed with the Netherlands. Even though Northumberland’s foreign policy was unpopular in England, his balanced diplomacy meant that there was no crisis because there was never any threat that England would be invaded, portraying that Northumberland put an effective foreign policy into practice. During Mary I’s rule in 1553-1558, she exercised effective foreign policy to a point, with her resisting involvement in war, but when she married Phillip; her foreign policy began to fail. It is said that it was the Spanish marriage that involved England in war against France, a war that England had nothing to gain from. However, Phillip did bring some advantages, with him strengthening the English navy, which had been allowed to go into decline. Also, the war brought about some positive results, with the army recruitment being reformed, there being military successes, and the navy controlling the Channel. Overall, Mary’s foreign policy had been effective to an extent, but the Spanish marriage brought war to the country and unpopularity, restricting alliances with countries such as France and Scotland, increasing the risk of invasion. An effective financial policy is where the crown is solvent, gains money, taxes are collected efficiently and there isn’t any inflation. Whilst Somerset was Edward’s regent, there was no sign of financial policy being put into power, with there being an expensive war, high inflation and...
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