Was Queen Elizabeth I. an ideal renaissance ruler?

Analyse av dronning Elizabeth den førstes styre
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For a king or a queen to deserve the title ”An ideal Renaissance Ruler” there are many criteria that need to be fulfilled. The Renaissance period was a new, different and developing period in European history where new thoughts and views flourished. A monarch at this time would need to be a very powerful person with talents in politics as well as support of exploration, new religious views and several other new ideas. Elizabeth I was the Queen of England in the period 1558-1603. She was a shrewd and intelligent queen who in a large degree contributed to making England a victorious and dominant nation. I believe that Queen Elizabeth because of this definitely deserves the title “ An Ideal Renaissance Ruler”
One of the reasons for giving her this title is the result of English exploration and trade at her time. In the Elizabethan period England became a world power with international trade links around the world. The country developed the strongest naval force in Europe after its defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and its ships circumnavigated the globe in voyages of exploration. Elizabeth aided the English privateers with ships and money and shared in their profits and stolen treasure. Elizabeth’s reign also saw many brave voyages of discovery, including those of Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and Humphrey Gilbert, particularly to the Americas. These expeditions prepared England for an age of colonisation and trade expansion, which Elizabeth herself recognised by establishing the East India Company in 1600. Her reign saw trading adventures along the coast of Africa (slaving), and new efforts to find short-cuts eastward and westward to the Orient. Other expeditions went in search of the legendary southern continent "terra australis incognita". But on the other hand there were negative sides of the story as well. During Elizabeth’s long reign, the nation also suffered from high prices and severe economic depression, especially in the countryside, during the 1590s. The war against Spain was not very successful after the Armada had been beaten and, together with other campaigns, it was very costly. Though she kept a tight rein on government expenditure, Elizabeth left large debts to her successor. Wars during Elizabeth’s reign are estimated to have cost over £5 million (at the prices of the time) which Crown revenues could not match - in 1588, for example, Elizabeth’s total annual revenue amounted to some £392,000.

Another fantastic advance that happened during her reign- often called the Golden Age was an enormous cultural flowering. In this time, talented writers such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlow, Ben Johnson, Thomas Kyd, Edmund Spence and several others emerged. Theatres, music and poetry flourished, as did art and architecture. About Elizabeth her self it was said: “She delights as much in music as she is skilful in it.”

Although she did not encounter many problems as a monarch she did have to solve a gigantic one: the split in religion. When Elizabeth became Queen in the November of 1558, it was widely believed that she would restore the Protestant faith in England. Mary’s persecution of Protestants had done much damage to the standing of Catholicism in England, and the number of Protestants in the country was steadily increasing. Although Elizabeth had adhered to the Catholic faith during her sister’s reign, she had been raised a Protestant, and was committed to that faith. Elizabeth’s religious views were remarkably tolerant for the age in which she lived. She believed sincerely in her own faith, but she also believed in religious toleration, and that Catholics and Protestants were both part of the same faith. "There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith" she exclaimed later in her reign, "all else is a dispute over trifles." She also declared that she had "no desire to make windows into men’s souls". Throughout her reign, Elizabeth’s main concern was the peace and stability of the realm, and religious persecution was only adopted when certain religious groups threatened this peace. It was unfortunate for Elizabeth that so many of her contemporaries did not share her views on toleration and she was forced by circumstance to adopt a harsher line towards Catholics than she intended or wanted. Elizabeth wanted a Church that would appeal to both Catholics and Protestants, and did not want to move the Church in a more Protestant direction, thus making it more difficult for Catholics to accept the Church than it was already. The form of worship also suited the Queen’s conservative religion. She had little sympathy with Protestant extremists who wanted to strip the Church of it’s finery, ban choral music, vestments and bell-ringing, and liked her Church just the way it was. She also hoped that by retaining the Church as it was, people would become accustomed to it. She wanted her Church to be popular with her people, and for Catholicism to die out naturally as people turned to the religion she had established. In this she was largely successful, for by 1603, the English nation as a population were generally Protestant, and Catholics were in the minority.

The last thing that makes Elizabeth deserve this title was her excellent organisation of England’s politics and her great diplomatic skills. The England of Elizabeth was a very structured place, and had a rather complicated system of government. First there were the national bodies of government such as the Privy Council and Parliament, then the regional bodies such as the Council of the Marches and the North, and then county and community bodies. National, or rather Central, government, consisted of: monarch, Privy Council and Parliament. These three bodies would work together to rule the country, make laws, raise money, and decide upon matters of religion and national defence. Elizabeth became skilled in the art of diplomatic prowess. Though she had a hot temper, she refrained from antagonizing the mighty Parliament. She manipulated the various opposing factions, pitting one against another until they came humbly to her for help, instead of allowing them to use their power and influence to manipulate the throne for their own designs. Her celebrated speeches helped her into long-lasting fame.

The conclusion one can draw from looking at Queen Elizabeth’s accomplishments is that she was an admirable ruler and a great contribution to the Renaissance period. She had most of the talents and demands needed to control and improve her country, and so she did. Her actions were positive, she was a popular and triumphant monarch, in most ways an Ideal Renaissance Ruler.

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