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in 1559, queen elizabeth issued a proclamation entitled "announcing injunctions for religion." the queen's reign was relatively new, and the monarch issued the proclamation as a way to assuage the doubts of many of her followers in relation to her possible catholic sympathies. while overall the queen enjoyed a relatively problem-free reign, the issue of religion would cause problems for her until her death. her first attempt at solving them came in 1559 in the form of this proclamation, condemning catholicism in favor of protestantism. in the proclamation, the queen makes 53 direct commands, mostly aimed at clergy, and makes her position on catholicism clear to any who may have experienced any doubt. she instructs her subjects to obey her commands and those of god, not those of the pope. all clergy must be approved in order to lead worship. the queen instructs the clergy to abolish all catholic-inspired rituals and adornments. the remnants of these rituals were to be destroyed. prayers, hymns and sermons should be conducted in english, for all to understand, not the latin of catholic services. the monarch concluded by reasserting her own beliefs, setting herself as the example that all good subjects should follow. her subjects were to swear allegiance to her and only her, instead of any foreign influences such as the pope. she concludes by reasserting her power, saying that anyone who disobeys her instructions "will answer to her majesty for the contrary (hughes 132)."
for the most part, the items included in the proclamation were aimed at members of the clergy, instructing them to promote certain aspects of christianity in a certain number of sermons per year. the queen's rhetoric, with its repetition of religious imagery, is meant to encourage clergy to seriously consider the queen as a formidable model of religious thought. at the same time, the document is simply written and very direct in its meaning, which demonstrates that it was also directed at the queen's subjects themselves. the queen wished to reach all her subjects of the christian faith, reminding them the proper ways to worship. she commanded members of the clergy to read the proclamation once a year to their parishioners, so that all would become familiar with its contents. the proclamation seems to be equally directed at catholics and protestants. the queen lets catholics know that she will not allow them to practice their religion publicly. meanwhile, the queen assures protestants that she has absolutely no sympathy for catholics and will not tolerate their religion in any way. many of her protestant subjects took the fact that she had not executed her cousin mary, a devout catholic, as a sign that she did not plan on condemning those of the catholic faith. many catholics considered mary to be their true monarch, and therefore did not take elizabeth seriously as a leader, especially a religious leader, in any way. therefore, the queen hoped to reach her subjects of all beliefs with her words. by condemning their faith and asserting her power in such a public way, she ensured catholics that she was not sympathetic toward them in the least. meanwhile, the queen assures protestants that she is a strong christian, an example of what their religious beliefs should be , and she has absolutely no sympathy for catholics and will not tolerate their religion in any way. the proclamation was also no doubt targeted at one catholic in particular-- mary, queen of scots herself. while strong in
language and unmistakable in meaning, the proclamation was not inflammatory in any way. the document was instead used as a way to bring peace and stablity to her country. by issuing a document with such a strong and open bias against catholicism, the queen ensured that she would be taken seriously as a protestant monarch. many members of parliament and other subjects believed that she was too sympathetic to the catholic cause. by stating specifically that papists were heretics in this proclamation, the queen succeeded in making a strong statement of her support of protestantism and disapproval of catholicism. the proclamation itself is extremely biased against catholicism, repeatedly calling its traditions, such as rosary beads, "idolatry and superstition (hughes 119.)" she even goes so far as to call the pope a "usurped and foreign power (hughes 118)." by issuing this proclamation, the queen intended to establish herself as a paragon of protestant beliefs, harboring no sympathy toward those of the catholic faith. i found this document in the course packet of my english 204, renaissance literature, class, taught by jennifer munroe. in it, she includes excerpts from a book of documents edited by paul hughes and james f. larkin entitled tudor royal proclamations: v.ii. the later tudors (1553-1587). the book was published in 1969. this proclamation, one of hundreds by queen elizabeth, is particularly relevant to the issues she faced in her reign. as the daughter of a protestant and the sister of a catholic, she was caught in the middle of a religious debate that would become the central issue of her reign as monarch. because her cousin was catholic, many insisted that elizabeth must be sympathetic to their cause. by issuing a strong statement of the religious beliefs that were acceptable to practice in her nation, she made it clear that catholics would not be able to publicly practice their religion in her country in any way.
she wanted no one to doubt that she believed that protestantism was "god's true religion (hughes 127)."