How Serious Were The Problems Elizabeth Faced In 1 Essay

458 WordsJan 2, 20122 Pages
How serious were the problems Elizabeth faced in 1558? Upon her succession in 1558, Elizabeth faced a number of issues of varying severity. One of the most serious was the financial state of the country; her predecessor Mary I, persuaded by her husband Phillip of Spain, had waged a hugely costly war against France. Unable to afford such a war, England eventually lost Calais, a humiliating defeat, and by the time Elizabeth came to the throne the nation was in debt to the tune of £227,000, much of it borrowed from the Netherlands at high interest rates of 14%. The trade of England’s biggest export, wool, was in decline, leading to massive unemployment and straining foreign relations. Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, was notorious for debasing coins (melting them down and mixing them with cheaper, base metals, devaluing the coin). When people started to notice, they became even less willing to trade with England, making the situation far worse. These financial problems led to severe inflation within the country, and as people had less money in real terms, discontentment soared. Religion was a significant issue for Elizabeth, as England had been religiously divided between Catholicism and Protestantism. Whichever faith Elizabeth adopted would alienate the believers of those she did not. Protestants in England had suffered under many years of Catholic rule, including the burning of heretics at the stake. The Catholics, in any case, did not see Elizabeth as the rightful heir to the throne anyway after Henry VIII bigamously married Anne Boleyn whilst still married to Catherine of Aragon, instead believing her to be an illegitimate bastard; she had, in fact, only narrowly avoided execution because of her faith. Thus, at least at the beginning of her reign, Elizabeth was an unpopular monarch, not least because she was a woman. Ignoring Lady Jane greys ill-fated nine day
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