To What Extent Was Finance the Major Problem Facing Elizabeth I on Her Succession in 1558?

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To what extent was finance the major problem facing Elizabeth I on her succession in 1558?

Upon her succession in 1558, Elizabeth I faced financial problems as well as many other major problems. One such problem was Elizabeth’s gender. In 1558, England had only experience the rule of one female monarch, Mary I, who had fuelled England’s belief that females could not be sufficient rulers of countries. Mary had fuelled this belief by being £300,000 in debt by the end of her reign, being in a war with France, murdering around 300 people due to her religious beliefs and marrying foreign royalty which handed her husband (Phillip II of Spain) joint rule over England. These problems made England believe that women were not capable of ruling countries adequately. The main issue England had with female monarchs was that they ‘needed’ to marry and in Mary I’s case, this meant that England became an ally of Spain (as she married Phillip II of Spain) and could potentially be caught up in Spain’s disputes and wars. Getting involved with other countries wars and disputes was definitely not in England’s, or the people of England’s, best interests, as war would lead to death and cost the country a large amount of money, which it didn’t have to spare. Because of this, when Elizabeth I came to power, the people of England had bad expectations and believed she would marry foreign royalty, try and have a male heir and land England in the same predicament as Mary I had done.

Gender was also an issue because the current Parliament was predominantly male and they believed that women weren’t strong, or able, enough to lead a country into greatness; casting a shadow of doubt over Elizabeth’s ability to rule England, without getting married and having a male ruling beside her, before she even had a chance to prove herself worthy of such a title as Queen. This meant that gender was a large problem upon her succession, as she had to overcome the gender stereotypes that faced her and prove to England that women were just as good as men at ruling a country. Given time Elizabeth could over come these gender issues by using her intelligence, education and charm to win the country and Parliament over and she could avoid the marital issue by not getting married (even if that was unthinkable in the 16th century). Although this was a big issue, it was possible to over come it. So aside from financial issues, gender was a major problem facing Elizabeth I on her succession in 1558, despite there being obvious, but difficult, ways to over come it.

Partially linked to the above problem, Parliament and Lords presented Elizabeth with another problem upon her succession in 1558. As I said above, Parliament was predominantly male and doubted Elizabeth’s ability to be a good ruler due to her gender and the necessity for her to be married. The problem with Parliament’s many doubts in Elizabeth was that without the monarchy having the support and backing of Parliament there could potentially be a civil war – something the country could not afford and frankly did not want. This meant that Parliament became a potential threat to Elizabeth and posed her with a problem rivalling the financial issue upon her succession in 1558.

As mentioned in both the above problems, war, or the threat of war, was another large issue Elizabeth faced. Upon her succession England had been at war with France and was consequently in debt by £300,000 and had lost its final possession in France (Calais). This loss of possession lead to France being in a more powerful possition than England, as England had no back-up in France anymore if a war broke out and France was allied with Scotland (due to Mary the Queen of Scotland’s marriage with Francis II of France) which lead to England becoming very vulnerable to attack by either country. To add to the vulnerability and paranoia England was feeling about war, French troops were gathering in numbers close to 5,000 in Edinburgh; only a few...
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