- Elizabeth I, Queen of England
- ( 15 3 3 - 1603 )consolidated the Church of England around the via mediaDuring her long reign (1558 - 1603), Elizabeth I consolidated the Protestant character of England. She refashioned the Church of England as a compromise between Roman Catholic and Reformed practices; this Anglican VIA MEDIA (middle way) has persisted to the current day.Elizabeth was born on September 7, 1533, the child of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the second of Henry's wives. Her mother's marriage was considered illegitimate by the pope. Elizabeth was three years old when Anne was beheaded.Elizabeth inherited a country that was divided by fierce religious passions after the reigns of her siblings Edward VI and Mary I. She leaned toward Protestantism due to threats to her rule from Catholic Spain,France, and Scotland, but she wanted to reconcile her Catholic subjects at home as well. Her approach became known as the via media, or middle way. Following Henry's precedent she had herself named Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She modified some elements of the prayer book for the sake of Roman Catholics but not enough to prevent the Catholic bishops from resigning. The very Protestant Forty-two Articles (of Religion) written by Thomas Cranmer were revised, and the resultant Thirty-nine Articles were adopted in 1563. They remain the doctrinal statement of the Anglican tradition.Elizabeth was excommunicated by the pope after putting down a Catholic uprising in the north in 1569. She expelled the Jesuits in 1585 for encouraging her assassination. When Mary Queen of Scots was implicated in the so-called Babington conspiracy, Elizabeth had her executed in 1587. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V helped finance an armada of Spanish ships to crush England. The British defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 to emerge as the world's greatest naval power.Elizabeth faced opposition from some Protestants (mostly Presbyterians) as well. When they refused to wear priestly vestments, she had them removed from their parish posts. Presbyterians, Baptists, and Quakers called for further purification of the Church of England. Puritan leaders opposed to a church led by bishops were arrested by Elizabeth. Some fled to the Netherlands, then the most religiously tolerant country in Europe.Nevertheless, Elizabeth enjoyed broad popularity for establishing England as a leading world power. Her support for explorers such as Sir Francis Drake also set the stage for the global spread of the Church of England over the next centuries as England began to build a colonial empire.See also United Kingdom.Further reading:■ Carolly Erickson, The First Elizabeth (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1997)■ Richard L. Greaves, Society and Religion in Elizabethan England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981)■ Leah Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose, eds., Elizabeth I: Collected Works (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000)■ Susan Watkins, In Public and Private: Elizabeth I and Her World (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998)■ Neville Williams, The Life & Times of Elizabeth I, ed. by Antonia Fraser (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1972).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.