Wednesday, June 22, 2011

to what extent can the reigns of edward and mary be regarded as forming a mid tudor crisis

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To What extent can the reigns of Edward and Mary be regarded as forming a mid Tudor crisis


The reigns of both Mary and Edward were both responsible for a period full of turmoil and controversy. So naturally the debate of whether there was a crisis will be presented. There were various aspects throughout both reigns that have to be analysed to see if there was a crisis or not foreign policy, economic policy, government, laws, politics and religion, since these are the only fields that a noticeable crisis would take place.


remained was that Edward was too young to provide a proper leader for a nation and somebody who wasn’t royalty would have to take his place. In order to prevent this from happening, Henry left in his will that there would be a council of sixteen men all with equal power left to rule the country. One man Edward Seymour who was currently the Earl of Hertford already a member of the council soon emerged as leader through discovering loopholes in henry’s will (although it was more likely altered) the governing sixteen had been named but were able to dispose of power as they saw fit. So he took Edward VI his nephew to London and was given the position of Lord protector of Edward VI via the council. Later he was to discover further loop holes in which he implemented a vague clause in Henry’s will concerning gifts that henry was supposedly going to give to the members of the council. Councillors were raised in the peerage. Seymour’s gift was to become duke of Somerset. All needed gifts of land also to secure their new status Somerset managed to use this to buy off opposition and secured his position holding sole power he was now no longer merely a councillor but he was in practise a substitute king.


Somerset’s short reign was one of failure he had a fixation on war he continued to pour vast amounts of funds into a relatively pointless war with Scotland which was lost any way. He distanced himself from the other councillors and essentially isolated himself from them, this would undoubtedly cause the creation of an opposing faction who disagreed with what he was doing. This caused a period of instability in the government with internal conflict. Not what I would say was a crisis since no undesirable outcomes from the conflict it was in fact in my opinion a good thing since it removed Somerset who was damaging England with his poor foreign policy. The duke of Northumberland led the opposing faction, which brought the duke of Somerset down. The duke of Northumberland’s reign was much more successful than that of Somerset’s he had a much more peaceful foreign policy but was responsible for some unforgivable acts that have for ever tainted his name and one of which was responsible for his death. Firstly he surrendered Boulogne to the French and sold it for a fraction of what it was worth. Secondly when he discovered Edward’s illness he tried to position Jane Grey his daughter-in-law as queen. His interfering with the order of succession was a viewed a terrible crime by Mary and her followers as a result Northumberland was executed. Had Mary’s followers not spoken out the reign of the Tudors would have ended there and then. At this point there was what seemed a possible crisis with the order of succession but it never occurred so although a crisis was imminent it never happened.


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After Edward VI’s death Mary was next in line for the throne she was the first woman ever to solely rule England. It was a big responsibility and challenging position and many believed she wasn’t up to it because of her being a woman. This was in a society where women were second class citizens with no real influential power. To worsen the matter she married a foreign prince from Spain, Prince Philip. Her government disagreed with Her, as did many other people. There was in fact a rebellion sparked up by a man Named Wyatt as protest to the marriage. The uprising was crushed and no more followed. The idea of a foreign Prince and the possibility of England being drawn into wars that had nothing to do with England did not please the people. Mary insisted on the Marriage and her and Philip were wed. Mary’s government was a particularly bad corrupt one with untrustworthy members within it, split between them and the trustworthy loyal members. Although suprisingly the government did manage to pull together to right up the marriage treaty of Mary and Philip which was the work of Mary herself, Paget, Gardiner and Renard, and Paget and Gardiner where in opposing factions at that time. Although they all disagreed with the marriage they had to support Mary for fear of losing patronage. Again there was no actual crisis here but there seemed to be possibilities of a crisis breaking out with the instability and corruptness of Mary’s government. And that the marriage to Philip would cause trouble for the English. Little harm came from neither.


One of the other main Debates for a Mid-Tudor crisis is that of Religion. At this point in time the religion situation in England was a particularly unstable one with the change from Catholicism to Protestantism and back to Catholicism all in the space of Twenty-five years. Henry had established the Protestant church in England and abolished the Catholic Church. Edward was a devout Protestant and Protestantism followed in his reign. Although it was not followed very securely throughout Somerset’s partial rule he was to pre-occupied with war to be bothered about religion although he did what he had to retain patronage with the young king. Northumberland enforced religion much more forcefully then Somerset and Catholicism was not tolerated at all. When Mary came to power She was a devout Catholic and changed England’s religion back to Catholicism which proved a problem since so many people had followed the Protestant religion since it had been enforced, it was a difficult time for the masses in which religion to devote yourself to. To do so at that period could be life threatening. The constant changing of Religion at that period caused much confusion within England although I am led to believe that there was never really a crisis, although it seemed like there was. As it was the constant cause of conflict.


The economical situation throughout these reigns was a rather unstable one. Throughout Somersets reign the situation was terrible he was spending thousands of pounds on the war with Scotland his actions led England further into a recession. The French saw this as their time to attack England when it was weak. Boulogne an English settlement within France was attacked. Somerset refused to give up and continued to pour more money into the fight for Boulogne. To worsen matters a bad harvest followed and taxes had to go up inflation also went up as the result of debasement of the coinage and food prices doubled but people’s wages didn’t. Northumberland restored some order to the economic state of England but unfortunately his reign was to short to make a significant difference and Mary’s reign had bad economics also. There were bad harvests again and food prices rocketed, there was severe famine and many died. I would say at this point that if there was a crisis during the mid-Tudor period it was now. Things were at an all time low in England.


England’s Foreign policy was particularly poor at the beginning of these reigns when Somerset was in power. His war policy with the French and the Scottish was a bad one, which cost England lots of wasted money and lives. Northumberland’s policy was more peace related and was without war as was Mary’s in which foreign relations improved heavily with the alliance of English and Spanish through the marriage of Mary and Philip. England had come off better than the Spanish from the marriage as a result of the marriage treaty. And new trade links had been formed. Other then Somerset’s reign foreign policy was not too bad other the loss of Boulogne and Calais on Mary’s behalf when she was persuaded into a war by Philip I feel there was no real crisis at that point.


Throughout the Mid-Tudor period I feel there was lots of turmoil and lots of situations where it looked like a serious crisis was about to happen although one never actually happened. I think it is safe to say that there was definitely a series of minor crisis that occurred throughout the period that may of raised doubt as to whether there was a mid-Tudor crisis, for example the war situation with France and Scotland. And the economy situation throughout all of the reigns.











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