Elizabethan Era Church Influence
In the movie, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Elizabeth was a powerful woman who refused
to get married. England was in dissent since there was a religious war going on between
the Protestants and the Catholics. Elizabeth, being a protestant herself, sided with the
Protestants. This however caused confusion amongst the English people, as they did not know which side to support.
While it was not a crime to be Catholic in Elizabethan England, there was no legal way for Catholics to practice their faith. It was illegal to hold or to attend a Mass. Powerful people, however, were less likely to be punished than others. Many of the upper classes were exempt from the new oaths of allegiance to the Church of England, and often wealthy Catholic families secretly maintained private chaplains.
The Forty-Two Articles of Anglican doctrine, written by Thomas Cranmer in 1552, was adapted by convocation of clergy under Elizabeth I to form the Thirty-Nine Articles in 1563. At the other end of the spectrum of Anglican Christianity, the Puritans arose to become a powerful force for renewal in the Church.
The 1559 Act of Supremacy bill, in a few words, gives full authority of the Church of England to the reigning monarchy, overpowering the Pope in Rome. Elizabeth also declared an Oath of Supremacy, instructing those in church office to swear acknowledge the monarch as head of both Church and state.
Elizabethan Catholics firmly believed that Priests were the link between God and the people and that the Pope was ordained by God. Catholic Priests were viewed as special and expected to devote their lives to God and remain unmarried and wear elaborate robes. Elizabethan Protestants believed that people could find God without a priest or a Pope and that Ministers were ordinary people who should lead normal lives and wear ordinary robes.
In 1558, Mary died and Elizabeth became queen. Faced with a country that was reeling from religious differences, Elizabeth once again made the Church of England the official religion, although retaining some Roman Catholic traditions in the church by issuing the 39 Articles of 1563, which was designed to prevent the country from further turmoil.
Her tolerance of Roman Catholicism would wane in her later years as assassination plots were uncovered that originated in at the hands of Roman Catholics that sought to reestablish a Roman Catholic queen.
As the fear of Witches increased in Europe, the Catholic Church added to its definition of Witches, anyone who had the knowledge of herb craft. The Church had decided that anyone who used herbs or plant for cures only did so through a pact with the Devil, either explicitly, or implicitly.