Tudor period

gigatos | December 30, 2021


The Tudor period is the historical period between 1485 and 1603 in England and Wales and coincides with the dynasty of the House of Tudor beginning with the enthronement of the first monarch Henry VII and ending with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The marriage of Henry Tudor of the Lancastrian branch and Elizabeth of York of the eponymous branch ended the War of the Two Roses and initiated this period. Of the entire period, the historian Jean-Guy in 1988 argues that “England was economically healthier, more expansive and more optimistic under the Tudors than at any time in a thousand years.

Following the ravages of the Black Death, responsible for the agricultural depression of the late 15th century, the population began to increase from less than two million in 1450 to nearly four million in 1600. Population growth stimulated economic growth through the development of agricultural marketing and increased production. The development of manufactured goods gave rise to new industries such as wool and its by-products, the export of which encouraged national trade, promoting both the growth of London and the emergence of other cities.

The high wages and abundance of arable land available in the late 15th and early 16th centuries gave way to low wages and land scarcity brought about by the Enclosure Acts, which saw lords grabbing village land that had previously been open to everyone. Various inflationary pressures, including the influx of gold from the New World, combined with the increase in population, initiated a period of social upheaval during which the gap between rich and poor widened. It was a period of great change for the majority of the rural population.

The Reformation is the term used to describe the change in English religion from Catholicism to Protestantism during the Tudor period. It originated with Clement VII”s papal refusals of requests for an annulment of Henry VIII”s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, thus preventing him from marrying Anne Boleyn. The four sovereigns, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth, each had a particular approach to religion. Thus, Henry proclaimed himself supreme head of the Church of England at the expense of the Pope of the Church of Rome. At the origin of the religious schism between the two churches, he established the canons of the English Protestant religion while maintaining Catholic doctrine and rites. Edward imposed a much stricter form of Protestantism, which led to major social conflicts. Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, “the Catholic”, restored the Catholic Church and Catholicism as the state religion. Finally, Elizabeth established a compromise Protestantism incorporating, like her father, Catholic rites. Her church would be defined as “the not-so-Protestant Church of England”.

Historians agree that the great theme of Tudor history is the Reformation, the transformation of English society from Catholicism to Protestantism. The main events, constitutional changes, and national actors have long been known, and the great controversies among historians about them have been largely resolved. Historians until the end of the 20th century assumed that they knew the origin of the causes of the Reformation: on the one hand, a general dissatisfaction or even disgust with the Catholic religion. Its corruption, failures and contradictions gave rise, not to anticlericalism, but to the legitimacy of a religious Reformation. And on the other hand, but less powerful in scope, was the intellectual impact of certain English reformers such as John Wycliffe (1328-1384) and his “Lollardy” movement, added to the current of thought spread by the Reformation tracts and pamphlets of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other continental reformers. Geoffrey Elton”s historical interpretation in 1960 is representative of the orthodox interpretation. He argues that “The situation proved untenable because the laity greatly feared, hated and despised the Catholic Church, its leaders, its courts and its wealth…. The poverty and ignorance of a low clergy supported by abbots and wealthy bishops, a great ramification of ecclesiastical jurisdictions, a mixture of high claims and low actions do not allow for respect or love of the laity.”

Yet Social historians after 1960 began a thorough investigation of English religion at the local level, and discovered, in fact, that the orthodox interpretation was quite wrong. The Lollard rebellion movement was largely extinct, and the literary works of the Continental Reformers had barely reached the circle of a few Cambridge University scholars. Henry VIII had vigorously and publicly denounced Luther”s heresies. More importantly, the Catholic Church was in good shape in 1500. England was very Catholic and loyal to the pope, local parishes attracted strong local financial support, church services were very popular and well attended for both Sunday mass and family devotions. Complaints about monasteries and bishops were rare. The kings had good relations with the popes, but in time Luther appeared on the European scene. England was among the strongest defenders of Catholicism and its orthodoxy, and seemed the most unlikely place for a religious revolution.

Henry VII: 1485-1509

Henry VII, founder of the House of Tudor, became King of England by defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. His marriage to Elizabeth York put a definitive end to the War of the Roses. Henry then initiated a number of administrative, economic and diplomatic reforms. Instead of lavish spending, he made measured expenditures with attention to detail. He concentrated on raising new revenues and created new and very unpopular taxes. When Henry VIII, his son, succeeded him, he had two of the most hated tax collectors executed.

Henry VIII: 1509-1547

Henry VIII, flamboyant, energetic, militaristic and stubborn, remains one of the most charismatic of England”s kings, mainly because of his six marriages, all designed to produce a male heir, and for his heavy-handed punishment of many high officials and aristocrats. In foreign policy, he focused on fighting France – with minimal success – and faced costly military conflicts with general mobilizations against Scotland, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, all leading to increased taxation. The main military success came from Scotland. The major development in Henry”s policy was the total takeover of the Church of England and the introduction of Protestantism. The schism was caused by the Pope”s refusal to annul his first marriage. Henry thus introduced the Protestant Reformation. articulated by two main aspects. First Henry rejected the Pope as head of the Church in England, claiming that national sovereignty required the absolute supremacy of the king. Henry worked closely with Parliament to pass a series of laws embodying the religious schism. Thus, the English could no longer appeal to Rome for the resolution of religious matters.  All resolutions of religious disputes were to be made in England, normally by the king himself, and in practice by key collaborators such as Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. Parliament was very supportive, with little dissent. The decisive measures were carried by the Act of Supremacy of 1534, which made the king the protector and sole supreme head of the Church and clergy of England. After Henry imposed a heavy fine on the bishops, almost all complied with the new laws. At the same time, the treason laws were considerably strengthened, including only verbal dissent as an act of treason. There were short-lived popular rebellions, quickly contained, while the constituent orders of the Aristocracy and the Church were supportive. The most prominent refusals were those of Bishop Fisher and Chancellor Thomas more, both of whom were executed. Among the high aristocrats, problems came from the Pole family supporting Reginald Pole, then in exile in Europe. Henry destroyed the rest of the family, had its leaders executed, and had all their property seized. The second step was the seizure of the monasteries. Monasteries administering religious and charitable institutions were closed, monks and nuns were put away, and arable land was sold to friends of the king, producing a large, wealthy, docile class that supported Henry. In terms of theology and ritual, there was little change. Henry wanted to keep most elements of Catholicism and hated the “heresies” of Martin Luther and the other reformers.

Biographer J.J. Scarisbrick says that Henry deserved his traditional title of “Father of the Royal Navy”. It became his personal weapon, his plaything, his passion. From his father, he inherited a fleet of seven small ships and added two dozen in 1514. In addition, to those built in England, he bought Italian and Dutch ships. In March 1513, he proudly watched his fleet of ships sail down the Thames under the command of Sir Edmund Howard. It was the most powerful naval force in English history consisting of 24 ships loaded with 1,600 tons of Henry Imperial. The fleet carried 5,000 marines and 3,000 sailors. Among its victories, it forced the French fleet to return to its ports and took control of the English Channel by blocking the port of Brest. Henry was the first of the European sovereigns to organize the navy as a permanent force with an administrative and logistical structure subsidized by tax revenues. He paid particular attention to the surveillance of his territory, in which he founded the royal arsenals and shipyards, planted forests for the construction of ships, enforced navigation laws, built fortifications to guard the coast, founded a school for navigation training and designated the respective roles of officers and sailors. He carefully supervised the construction of all his ships and their cannons, knowing their architecture, speed, tonnage, armaments and naval combat tactics. He encouraged the naval architects who perfected the Italian technique of fitting cannons to the size of the ship, which lowered the ship”s center of gravity while giving it greater buoyancy. He supervised the smallest details and took infinite pleasure in presiding over the launch of new ships. He drew on his own funds for military and naval projects by diverting money from new taxes and sales of monastery lands.Elton notes that Henry did develop the infrastructure and organization of the navy but it was not a useful weapon for his style of warfare. The fleet lacked a useful strategy. It served, however, for the defense of the territory against invasions and for the improvement of the international prestige of England.

Professor Sara Nair James said that “in the years 1515-1529, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey would have been the most powerful man in England, apart from the king. Historian John Guy explains Wolsey”s methods, “Only in the broadest sense did the king make independent decisions…..It was Wolsey who almost invariably determined the options available and ranked them for royal consideration; who set the parameters of each successive debate; who controlled the flow of official information; who chose the king”s secretaries, mid-level officials, and justices of the peace; and who himself promulgated the decisions he largely shaped if not strictly made.”

Administering with the firm support of the king and special powers over the church granted by the pope, Wolsey dominated civil affairs, administration, law, church and foreign policy. He was surprisingly energetic and very ambitious. In terms of accomplishments and apart from building his personal fortune, he was a great patron of the arts, letters and education. Despite many reforms, the English government had not changed much by the end of his term. Of his initial promises, very little was achieved. From the king”s point of view, his greatest failure was his inability to get the divorce from the Pope that he needed to conceive a son, the undisputed heir to the throne. Historians agree that Wolsey was a disappointment. Ultimately, he conspired with Henry”s enemies, and died of natural causes before he could be beheaded.

Historian Geoffrey Elton has argued that Thomas Cromwell, who was Henry VIII”s chief minister from 1532 to 1540, not only permanently removed control of the Church of England from the hands of the Pope, but profoundly transformed England with the establishment of an unprecedented modern, bureaucratic government. Cromwell replaced a medieval government that administered the land like a household with a government structure that managed a state by separating the needs of the king from those of the state. Cromwell introduced reforms in the administration to make this separation a reality. He injected Tudor power into all areas of the realm and radically altered the role of the Parliament of England by granting it real executive powers. This radical transition in the 1530s must be seen as part of a planned revolution. According to Elton, before Cromwell, the kingdom could be considered the private property of the King, with most of the administration carried out by servants of the King”s household rather than by autonomous offices of the state. As the sponsor of these reforms, Cromwell successfully laid the foundation for England”s stability. Cromwell was unlucky, however, when he selected Anne of Cleves, the wrongful wife of the King, and was beheaded for treason. More recently, historians have pointed out that the king and others also played powerful political roles.

In dramatic contrast to his father, Henry VIII spent a great deal of money on military operations in England and France and on building a large network of palaces, the financing of which remained a serious problem. The growing number of ministries meant the recruitment of many salaried officials. The additional financial and administrative difficulties between 1540 and 1558, aggravated by war, currency depreciation, latent corruption and political inefficiency, were mainly due to Somerset”s policies. After the fall of Cromwell, William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester and Lord Treasurer, introduced further reforms to simplify the relationship between the Crown”s finances and Parliament. The courts of the Comptroller General and the Court of Augmentations were thus merged into a new Court of Augmentations.

After 1540, the Privy Chests, the body responsible for the financial settlement of the king”s “secret affairs” and in particular the financing of war expenses, were called upon. The king”s private expenses, which did not require parliamentary approval, added to the total cost of these expenditures. The Royal Mint was used to generate revenue through the depreciation of the currency; the government”s profit between 1547-51 was 1,200,000 livres. However, Edward, under the leadership of the Regent of Northumberland, ended its conflicts. The currency did not generate additional revenue after the practice of monetary depreciation was stopped in 1551.

Edward VI: 1547-1553

As Henry moved into his fifties, his health deteriorated rapidly in 1546. Upon his death, the conservative party led by Bishop Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and opponents of religious reform, seemed poised to take control of the regency of the nine-year-old heir to the throne. However, the pro-reform party suddenly took over the Council of Regency, then chaired by Edward Seymour. Bishop Gardiner was discredited and the Duke of Norfolk was imprisoned throughout the new king”s reign.

The short reign of Edward VI marked the triumph of Protestantism in England. Somerset, King Edward”s uncle and older brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour – Henry VIII”s fourth wife and Edward”s mother – had a brilliant military career. When the king, then a child, was crowned, Somerset was appointed Lord Protector of the kingdom, which he governed between 1547 and 1549. Seymour waged costly and inconclusive wars against Scotland. His religious reforms revolted the Catholics. He abolished the theological concept of purgatory, making religious rituals and services such as mass for the dead, prayers to the saints, relics and statues, and altars in church chapels unnecessary. Thus, 2,374 permanent endowments called “chantries” – made to enable the souls of Catholic donors to avoid purgatory – fed the coffers of monasteries and churches; and financially supported the thousands of priests celebrating masses for the dead and administering schools and hospitals. These endowments, seized by Cromwell in 1547, no longer fed the state coffers. Most of his donations seem to have been distributed to friends of the court. The historian A. G. Dickens concluded:

“For Catholic opinion, the problem posed by these legal confiscations … the important disappearance of the clerical society from its environment, the silence of the masses, the rupture – both visible and spiritual – of the links, which for so many centuries united the provincial man to the universe of Faith….. Dissolution under Edward VI exerted its profound effects in the field of religion. To a great extent it proved destructive, while it helped to prohibit a revival of Catholic devotion, an act of faith par excellence, it intrinsically contained the elements that were damaging to the reputation of Protestantism.”

Historians have compared the effectiveness of Somerset”s seizure of power in 1547 with the ineptitude of the laws he passed during his presidency. In the autumn of 1549, as the costly wars lost their legitimacy, the crown, on the verge of financial ruin, faced riots and revolts throughout the country. He was then overthrown by his former ally John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.

Until recent decades, Somerset”s reputation among historians has been enhanced by his many proclamations in favor of the common people and against the haves – the landowning class. In the early twentieth century, this line was taken up by the influential A. F. Pollard and by the expert biographer of the period of Edward VI: W. K. Jordan. A more critical approach was initiated by M. L. Bush and Dale Hoak in the mid-1970s. Since then, Somerset has often been portrayed as an arrogant ruler, lacking both the political and administrative skills necessary to govern the Tudor states.

In contrast to his predecessor, Dudley quickly turned the administration into a near-bankrupt one in 1549. Working with his prestigious collaborator William Cecil, Dudley got rid of the costly wars against France and Scotland and reformed finance so that it would drive economic recovery through investment. To prevent further popular uprisings, he introduced nationwide police forces, called Lords Lieutenants, in close contact with London, and established what amounted to a standing national army. Working closely with Thomas Cramner, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dudley aggressively pursued a Protestant religious policy by ousting Catholic bishops and promoting radical reformers to key positions in the now Anglican Church. The use of the Book of Common Prayer became a law in its own right in 1549, establishing the use of English at the expense of Latin in prayers. Mass was no longer to be celebrated and preaching became the centerpiece of church services.

The new Protestant orthodoxy of the Church of England was expressed in the Forty-Two Articles of Faith in 1553. But when King Edward VI died suddenly, Dudley”s last-ditch efforts to make his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, the new ruler failed. Mary, Henry VIII”s first daughter and legitimate successor to the English throne, claimed the crown. Once enthroned, she had the “nine-day queen” beheaded.

Mary I: 1553-1558

Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, is closely associated with her Catholic and Spanish heritage. She is the next legitimate member in line to the English throne. However, in 1553, the dying Edward VI and the Duke of Northumberland attempted to name his niece Lady Jane Grey, the new Queen of England. The Duke of Northumberland wanted both to keep control of the government and to maintain Protestantism as the state religion. Edward signed a Letter Patent to change the line of succession. Not only did Edward write an act that was considered illegal because only Parliament could change the line of succession to the throne, but he also committed an act that was considered by law to be high treason.  Edward”s Privy Council, almost exclusively made up of Protestants, kept the king”s death a secret for three days in order to organize Lady Jane”s enthronement. But Northumberland neglected to take control of Princess Mary. Upon hearing of the king”s death, Mary flees her residence and organizes an army of 2,000 soldiers and a political group of supporters, who proclaim her Queen of England throughout the country. The Privy Council abandoned the Duke of Northumberland and eventually proclaimed Mary Queen of England as she rode triumphantly into London with her army and Elizabeth. After nine days, the so-called Queen Jane Grey was imprisoned and the Duke of Northumberland was executed.

Historians of Mary remember her efforts to restore Catholicism in England after Edward”s short reign tried to minimize it. In contrast, Protestant historians have long disparaged her reign, pointing out that in just five years she burned several hundred Protestants in the Marian persecutions. However, a historiographical revisionism since the 1980s has tended to restore her reputation among academic scholars. Christopher Haigh”s bold reappraisal of the religious history of Mary”s reign has associated the revival of religious festivities with a general satisfaction, if not popular enthusiasm, for the return of the old Catholic practices. The re-establishment of Catholicism would be undermined by her younger half-sister and successor Elizabeth, who re-established a moderate Protestantism, tinged with Catholic rituals.

Contemporary writers of Protestant persuasion gave a very negative opinion of Mary”s reign, giving her the nickname “Bloody Mary”. John Knox, as early as 1558, attacked her in his First Breath of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.  She is, evidently, defamed in Acts and Monuments in 1563, by John Foxe, who for centuries has been teaching Protestants that Mary was a bloodthirsty tyrant. In the mid-twentieth century, H. F. M. Prescott attempted to redress the thinking that Mary was intolerant and authoritarian by writing more objectively. Scholarship today tends to view the former assessments of Mary with more skepticism.

Haigh concluded that “The last years of Mary”s reign were not a horrible preparation for Protestant victory but the sustained strengthening of Catholic strength.” Historians of Catholic persuasion, such as John Lingard, have argued that Mary”s policies failed not because they were wrong but because Mary”s reign was too short to implement them. In other countries, the Catholic Counter-Reformation was led by Jesuit missionaries. Mary”s chief religious advisor, Cardinal Pole, consequently refused to allow the Jesuits in England. Spain was widely regarded as the enemy, and her marriage to King Philip II of Spain was deeply unpopular, even though he had virtually no role in the English government and they had no children. The military loss of Calais to France eroded English pride leaving a bitter taste of humiliation. Poor harvests increased public discontent. Although Mary”s policies were ultimately ineffective and unpopular because they were unachieved, her innovations in tax reform, naval expansion and colonial exploration were later hailed as positive achievements of Elizabeth”s reign without benefiting Mary who had initiated them.

Elizabeth I: 1558-1603

Historians have often portrayed Elizabeth”s reign as the Golden Age of English history, in terms of social, economic, political and cultural development that mirrored that of continental Europe. Nicknamed “Gloriana” and emblazoned with the symbol of Britannia from 1572, Elizabeth”s era was one of renaissance that restored national pride through such classical ideals as international expansion and naval triumphs over Spain. Elizabeth”s reign marked the turning point in English religious history, from predominantly Catholic at its beginning to predominantly Protestant at its end. Although Elizabeth executed 250 Catholic priests, she also executed some extreme Protestants. All in all, she sought a moderately conservative position that allowed for the blending of royal control of the church with the theology of Calvinism tainted by Catholic rituals.

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) was a devout Catholic and next in line of succession to the English throne after Elizabeth. This position was one of the main domestic and international problems for England.

The death of King James IV at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 plunged the country into years of struggle for control of the throne, which was then held by the one-year-old King James V. The country was then ruled by a Council of Regency until 1528 and then by the king until his death in 1542.

Marie de Guise (1515-60), a French descendant of the Bourbons, married James V in 1538 and became, upon his death, regent of Scotland during the minority of her daughter Mary Stuart, born six days before her father”s death and crowned Queen of Scotland in 1543. A minor on her eleventh birthday, December 8, 1553, Mary Stuart had been living in France since she was six years old and was promised to the Dauphin of France, the future Francis II. Marie de Guise was reappointed regent from 1554 until her death in 1560. Both the regent and her daughter were staunch Catholics and strong opponents to the growth of Protestantism in Scotland. She therefore worked to maintain a close political and economic alliance between Scotland and France, through the renewal of the mutual aid treaty, called the Auld Alliance. In 1559, the Regency, worried about the growing hostility of the Scots to French rule, increased sanctions against Protestantism to the point of banning unauthorized preaching on Scottish soil. But the fiery English preacher John Knox sent to Scotland and leader of the coalition of powerful Scottish nobles, calling themselves the Lords of the Congregation, stirred up rebellion to overthrow the Catholic Church and seize its lands. The Lords then asked Queen Elizabeth I for armed support. At first, she sent only money, as sending an army would be a violation of a recently signed peace treaty with France. But a French victory in Scotland could strengthen a Catholic state on the northern border supported by a powerful French enemy. Elizabeth then decided to send artillery and then a fleet with 8,000 men to destroy the French fleet in Scotland. The death of Marie de Guise in 1560 allowed England, France and Scotland to sign the terms of the Treaty of Edinburgh that same year, which had a resounding impact. It ensured the complete withdrawal of French forces from Scotland, the success of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland and initiated a century of peace between England and France. It put an end to any attempt to invade Scotland into England, paved the way for a union between the two kingdoms in 1603, when James VI King of Scotland inherited the English throne as James I of England, thus initiating the Stuart dynasty.

When the Treaty of Edinburgh was signed, Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen of France was in Paris with King Francis II of France. When he died suddenly in 1561, she returned to Scotland where the parliament had become predominantly Protestant. However, when Elizabeth I refused to recognize her as the legitimate heir to the English throne after his death, Mary rejected the Treaty of Edinburgh. She then made an unhappy marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, who mistreated her and had his favorite Italian, David Rizzio, murdered. Darnley was murdered in his turn by the Earl of Bothwell, who, acquitted of the murder, married the queen. Most people, then, thought she was deeply involved in adultery and murder, but historians are now undecided. However, rebellion broke out and the Protestant nobles were defeated by the Scottish army in 1567. She was nevertheless forced to abdicate in favor of her son James Stuart – the future James VI – and then fled to England where Elizabeth kept her under surveillance for 19 years. Mary then engages in numerous assassination plots against Elizabeth”s queen to become queen in her place. Finally, Elizabeth had proof of her participation in the Babington plot and had her beheaded, reluctantly it seems, in 1587.

The last two decades of Elizabeth”s life brought problems whose resolution was left to James Stuart after 1603. Jean Cramsie, reviewing recent academic studies in 2003, argues that:

“The period 1585-1603 is now recognized by scholars as significantly more difficult than the first half of Elizabeth”s long reign. The costly wars against Spain and Ireland, the involvement of the Netherlands, the miserable socio-economic situation and the authoritarian reforms of the regime, all overshadowed the last years of “Gloriana” plagued by a certain wear and tear of power, the emergence of open criticism of her government and its failures.”

Elizabeth remained a strong leader even though almost all of her early advisers had died or retired. At the end of her reign, Robert Cecil (1563-1612) took over the role of chief advisor from his father Lord Burghley. His most prominent general was Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (1567-1601), a role previously held by his father-in-law, Robert Dudley, Elizabeth”s great love. The adventurer and historian Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), founder of the state of Virginia, was a new face at Elizabeth”s court and therefore had no predecessor. These three men formed a veritable triangle locking down opposition forces. The first vacancy came in 1601, when Devereux was executed for attempting to imprison the Queen and seize power. After Elizabeth”s death, the new King James I of England reappointed Robert Cecil as chief advisor, and had Raleigh beheaded in 1615.

Many popular uprisings occurred during the Tudor period, all of which were suppressed by force and royal power. The most important were:

The principal local government officials administering the kingdom at the shire level were the sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant. The power of the sheriff had diminished since medieval days but was still very prestigious. He was appointed for a one-year term, without renewal, by the King”s Privy Council. He was paid from the revenue of small taxes that did not cover his hospitality expenses or those of hiring deputy sheriffs and bailiffs. The sheriff held court monthly to deal with civil and criminal matters. He supervised elections, ran the jail, and imposed penalties. His subordinates provided staff for the county courts.

The Lord Lieutenant was a new position created by Henry VIII to represent the royal power in each county. It was usually a person with good enough connections at court to be selected by the king to serve his pleasure, often for decades. He had limited powers of direct control. Lords Lieutenants worked with sub-lieutenants and dealt with landlords through compromise and consensus. He was responsible for mobilizing the militia, if necessary, for defense, or to assist the king in military operations. In Yorkshire, in 1588, the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Huntington, urgently put in place the means necessary to prepare the defense against the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada. The Queen”s Privy Council urgently called for the mobilization of the militia and instructed the Lord Lieutenant to report on the availability of men and horses. Huntington”s main challenge was to overcome the reluctance of many in the militia to accept his lack of manpower, training and experience in the jealousy wars of the gentry who were fighting each other for command of their units. Despite Huntingdon”s last-ditch efforts, this historic episode in 1588 revealed a reluctance on the part of society to mobilize and respond to a call to arms. During the civil wars in the mid-seventeenth century, the Lord Lieutenant played an even more important role in mobilizing the population of the county under his charge, either at the request of the King or the Parliament.

The day-to-day business of government was in the hands of several dozen justices of the peace (JPs). They handled all the administrative functions of policing and were paid from the income of modest taxes. Other local officials included church wardens, mayors and city aldermen. The duties of the justices of the peace included a great deal of paperwork written primarily in Latin, attracting a surprisingly large number of applicants. For example, the 55 justices of the peace in Devonshire in 1592 included:

Sir Francis Drake, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Gilberts, Carews, Seymours, Courtenays, and other names among the men who laid the foundation of England”s maritime greatness. Of the fifty-five members, twenty-eight were at one time or another High Sheriffs of the County, more than twenty were or subsequently became knights, six of them members of the House of Commons, and three in the House of Lords.

The cultural achievements of the Elizabethan era have long attracted scholars who, since the 1960s, have conducted intensive research on English social history.

The House of Tudor produced three kings and two queens ruling successively during this period.

Religious, social, economic and cultural history

Primary sources


  1. Période Tudor
  2. Tudor period
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