Was there an'Elizabethan Settlement' of religion? The issue of religion had been a long standing problem throughout Tudor England. For more than 60 years the two opposing beliefs struggled to dominate the realm depending on what the monarch believed in. Henry VIII initially altered Catholic doctrine in proclaiming himself as Supreme Head of the Church in 1534. Further confusion of state religion continued during Edward's reign. Protestantism was propagated from 1547, at the time of Edward's accession, and was further strengthened by the introduction of the First Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and the Second Book in 1552. These Prayer Books included and reinforced newly written prayers and services, changes to the Mass and discussed particular issues of belief, such as transubstantiation of Holy Communion. These initial actions of English Reformation were suppressed with the accession of Mary.
She was a staunch Catholic who enforced her religion upon England and punished those who opposed the'true' faith. People were condemned as heretics; over 300 Protestants were burned from February 1555 to November 1558. By this time people were confused about what religion to believe in and exactly what heresy meant. The reign of Elizabeth was looked upon with optimism and a sense of renewed strength for those in exile. Many waited for Elizabeth to settle religion. Of course the Protestants expected her to return England to the Protestant fold. For them she was the English Deborah of the Old Testament sent to save the Israelites.
Elizabeth presented herself as "God's instrument for the restoration of the Gospel, as mother of the Church in England, and as protectress of religious refugees."Yet the question at hand was:'To what variety of Protestantism would England return?' Elizabeth knew that the settlement of religion would take a lot longer than people planned. Such factors as ..