AGE OF ELIZABETH
RELIGIOUS SETTLEMENT IN GERMANY.
ENGLAND UNDER EDWARD VI.
CATHOLIC REACTION IN ENGLAND
FRANCE, SPAIN, ENGLAND AND THE PAPACY
RELIGIOUS SETTLEMENT IN ENGLAND.
THE REFORMATION MOVEMENT IN FRANCE AND SCOTLAND.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
THE SPANISH MONARCHY
THE REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS
RESULT OF ALVA’S MEASURES ON FRANCE, ENGLAND AND
STRUGGLE OF CATHOLICISM AND PROTESTANTISM
ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S DAYS. 1572
ELIZABETH AND HOME AFFAIRS.
ELIZABETH'S COURT AND MINISTERS.
THE STRUGGLE IN THE NETHERLANDS.—1576-83.
THE JESUITS AND THE CATHOLIC REACTION
SPAIN AND THE LEAGUE
THE SPANISH ARMADA
REACTION AGAINST SPAIN
ENGLISH’ LIFE IN ELIZABETH’S REIGN
LAST YEARS OF ELIZABETH
The period of the
Reformation marks a great change in the general condition of Europe. It was a
change which had been slowly coming, but which then first made itself decidedly
and clearly known. New knowledge had arisen amongst the peoples of Europe, and
new ideas had come from different sides. The old Latin writers were discovered,
and read with eagerness; the fall of Constantinople sent many Greeks and much
of the old Greek literature into Europe. The discovery of the New World
extended men’s ideas of their surroundings, and opened up a wide field for
their speculations. National feeling had grown stronger throughout Europe as
the nations had become united under strong rulers.
The result of all this was that men’s interests became more secular,
that the old ecclesiastical system did not so entirely cover men's lives as it
had done in the Middle Ages. The change may be seen by noticing how gradually
the Crusading spirit passed into the spirit of colonization. Both were founded
on the love of adventure; but this when guided by ecclesiastical feeling led to
the Crusades, when guided by national feeling led to colonization. As men found
that they had more interests outside the ecclesiastical system, they began more
to criticize its organization and working. They felt that man was not made for
Church system, but Church system for man. There were demands on all sides for a
reformation of the existing state of things.
It was impossible to advance in other matters until religion had first
been dealt with. Everyone who wanted to make any improvement found that he must
begin from religion in some shape or another. If he were a scholar, like
Erasmus, who wanted to make men wiser, he soon found that the existing
condition of religion stood in his way. If he were a politician, like Charles
V, he soon found that religious questions were the chief ones which he had to
consider in conducting affairs.
Some men were content with the old state of things, either from
interested motives, or from real love for that form of worship in which they
had been born and bred. Others wished to keep the old system but make a few
alterations in it: they believed the government of the Church to be the right
one, and to be, moreover, quite necessary, though they thought that it had been
carelessly carried on, and needed improvement. Others declared that they could
find no authority in Scripture for the existing system of the Church, and wished
to change it altogether. Gradually men had to range themselves on one side or
the other. Either they thought that in and through the Church only did man have
communion with God; or they thought that God would receive any man who
faithfully turned to Him. This was the broad distinction between the two
parties we shall call Catholics and Protestants.
Hence it was that religion naturally became the battlefield of the old
and new state of things. A religious change was, moreover, most deep-reaching
in its consequences. It could not be made without leading to changes in
politics and society also. For a change in belief meant a schism from the
existing Christian community. This community was ruled over by the Pope, who
kept together the different local authorities, and secured the unity of Western
Christendom in ecclesiastical matters. A change of belief meant a revolt from
This was very difficult to carry out in any case. For the people who
lived under one civil government were not likely all at the same time to agree
to make this change. They differed in consequence about almost every point :
for the old ecclesiastical system went down to the very foundation of daily
life and affected almost everything that men did. In every State, therefore, there
were divisions, and that too about serious matters. It was not merely a
question of religious beliefs or forms of worship. The Church had large lands,
—were these to go to the old religion or to the new religion, or were they to
be taken for secular purposes? Were priests to be looked upon as ordinary men,
or were they the sole channels through whom men could obtain salvation? Were
they to marry, or were they not? These were questions that had to be settled in
some way or another. Those who held to the old beliefs could not endure,
without a struggle, to see all that they reverenced set aside. Not only must
they keep to the old beliefs themselves, they must see also that the old system
was handed down to those that came after them; they must see that it was not
destroyed. So, too, those who had accepted the new beliefs felt that they must
try to spread their own convictions, and must try to root out superstition.
Nothing but discord could be the result of these opposite convictions.
The Reformation, then, introduced division into every State, division
which was more or less bitter according as the two parties were more or less
But this was not all. Besides affecting the internal condition of
States, the Reformation greatly affected their relations towards one another.
According to the old state of things Christendom was one; but now it had ceased
to be so. According to the old ideas, the Emperor was the temporal Head of
Christendom, and now it was to be expected that he would try and bring back
unity, if it were at all possible. Besides all the other causes for quarrelling
which existed in Europe between different States, difference of religion was
The consequence of this was that politics and religion became most
strangely mixed together. Not only were there two parties in each State in open
or concealed warfare with one another, but also all the relations between States&
were regulated very greatly by religious considerations. Protestantism began
simply enough in an attempt to worship God more in accordance with the dictates
of reason and conscience. This attempt, however, harmless it might seem, really
meant a great change in the government of the State which allowed it to be
made. It meant also a great change in all the political relations of Europe.
It was hardly likely that these changes could be made peaceably; the
interests involved were too great. Only after a period of internal struggle did
each nation decide which side it was going to take. Only after a period of
great conflict did Europe form itself into a new political system.
The interest of the first half of the sixteenth century lies in tracing
the causes that brought about the religious movement, and in seeing how the new
principles were at first worked out. The interest of the last half of the
sixteenth century lies in seeing the political effects which were produced by
the religious movement, when it had once taken root. These political results,
as we have seen were of two kinds—they affected the nations separately, and
they affected Europe as a whole. We have, then, to keep before us these two
main points :
1. The internal
conflicts of the nations of Europe before each decided which side in religion
it should take as a nation.
2. The changes in the political
relations of Europe generally which the Reformation brought about.
It is, of course, impossible to keep these two points separate from one
another; but it will be easier to understand what was going on, and to see the
reasons for the relative importance of events, if these two main points be kept
In the middle of the sixteenth century the revolt against the authority
of the Pope had spread over the greater part of northern Europe. Norway,
Sweden, and Denmark had accepted the Protestant teaching. England had thrown
off obedience to the Pope, though Henry VIII was not in favor of any great
change in doctrine. Germany was divided into Protestant and Catholic States,
the Protestants prevailing in the north, and the Catholics in the south. The
Swiss Cantons were divided into Catholic and Protestant, but the Swiss
Protestants were not agreed with the Protestants of Germany. There were also
Protestants in France, Scotland, and the Netherlands, though, as yet, they had
not made any very important advance.
We shall have to trace the fortunes of the Reformation in the following
(1.) In Germany, where a temporary toleration was devised.
(2.) In England, where the revolt from Rome was confirmed, and
Protestant opinions were seen to be necessary to the political liberty of the
(3.) In Scotland, where the people shook off Catholicism almost at once,
and changed their old political attitude to agree with their new religious
(4.) In the Netherlands, where Protestantism fostered a desire for
freedom, and supported the people in a long war against Spain.
(5.) In France, where a long period of civil war was caused by religious
differences, but, in the end, Catholicism proved itself to be more deeply
rooted than Protestantism.
Besides these occurrences in the separate countries we have to see how
the struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism in Europe generally tended
to centre round the two powers of England and Spain.
The result of this struggle was that England began to take the foremost
position in Europe, while Spain, though still wearing the appearance of outward
strength, grew internally weaker and weaker.