John Knox and the Church of Scotland.
The Scottish Church on the eve of theReformation was both corrupt and wealthy and seemingly ripe for reform. The course of religious change was largely a result of the leadership of John Knox and the political and personal issues created by Mary Stuart. In contrast to England the Reformation in Scotlandwas promoted by the nobility over the opposition of the Crown.
John Knox (1505-72).
Knox was a priest actively interested in the reform of the church andstrongly opposed to the French-Catholic regency in Scotland. While in exile on theContinent because of his beliefs, he became a disciple of John Calvin in Geneva. He returnedto Scotland in 1558 -the same year that the Dauphin of France married Mary Stuart and publicized her right to the English throne. Since the Scots feared absorption into a French-Catholic empire, four Protestant nobles formed a group called the Lords of theCongregation and requested major church reforms from the regent, Mary of Guise (mother of Mary Stuart). When the demands were rejected, Knox rallied the reformers with hisevangelistic zeal, and civil war broke out. Only the reluctant intervention by Queen Elizabethsaved the reformers from defeat by the regent’s French army.
Treaty of Edinburgh, 1560.
The terms of the treaty required the French to withdraw fromScotland and ended three centuries of Franco-Scottish ties. The treaty also contributed tothe triumph of Protestantism over Catholicism in Scotland and England. The firm alliance of these two Protestant countries permitted a longer peace between them than heretofore.
The Scottish Parliament.
In 1560 the Scottish Parliament broke relations with Rome, banned the Mass, and adopted a Calvinistic profession of faith and a book of discipline prepared by the first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. When Mary of Guise diedthat same year, a council of twelve was set up to govern Scotland until Mary Stuart returnedfrom France.
Elizabethan Foreign Policy
For a quarter of a century Elizabeth maintained a clever, yet precarious, neutrality in foreignaffairs. The fact that neither France nor Spain subdued the much weaker England was due tothe rivalry between these two Catholic countries, and even more to the astute diplomacy of Elizabeth and her brilliant statesmen. With the breathing spell won by this period of nominal peace, England increased national finances, strengthened commercial and maritime power,and developed self-confidence.
Elizabeth and Her Advisers.
Undoubtedly, the success of Elizabeth’s reign was to a largeextent dependent upon her ability to govern and by her selection of wise and loyal advisers.Like Henry VIII, she became an astute political manager.
Character of the Queen.
When Elizabeth came to the throne at the age of twenty-five, thecountry was split by religious faction, trade and finances were in disarray, a worthless war with France still dragged on, and Englishmen were very skeptical about serving another female monarch. However, the Queen soon demonstrated that she possessed the abilitiesthat had been lacking in her halfsister, Mary. Although Elizabeth was vain and iron-willed,she had remarkable political understanding and a personal magnetism that attracted devotedfollowers. She loved power, but her shrewd mind knew when to concede small points inorder to win major ones. Unlike Queen Mary, Elizabeth understood that the strength of theEnglish monarchy, since it lacked a royal army, must be built upon popular consent. Like her father, Elizabeth was well-educated; she loved literature and could speak and write sixlanguages.