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“In 1603, when Elizabeth died, what were the strengths and weaknesses of the church that she left to James I with regards to both Puritans and Catholics”

When Elizabeth died, the weaknesses of the church, which she left to James I with regards to both Puritans and Catholics, were: that the Elizabethan church was in poor shape, and “lacked the basic understanding of protestant doctrines”, were “ungodly in their behaviour” and the “clergy was poorly educated and unable to preach”. During the 1560’s, there was a shortage of clergy as a result of the “morality crisis in the late 1550’s”. As a result of this there were vacant livings which had to be filled with “poorly qualified men” who lacked the “knowledge and skills necessary”. Many parishes continued to be served by “Marian Priests” who did the best to frustrate the spread of Protestant beliefs and worship. These clergymen did not “die off as quickly as perhaps the protestant establishment would have liked” and many lingered on into the mid-1570’s, holding up the work of the reform.At the same time the laity was “resistant to change”, the church wardens were “slow to comply with the law and rid the churches of catholic plate, vestments, altars and images”, not just the in the conservative north, but also in the southern parishes, where “such items were not sold off until 1568”. Village communities also clung onto “Catholic rituals and festivities” like ringing bells on “all souls’ Eve”. Thomas Cartwright’s observation about the happenings of the church was that “‘Heaps’ of people had cast away the old religion without discovering the new”.This was true, but not only could they not be “weaned easily from their reliance on supernatural forces at times of stress”, but many villages resorted to “charms, talismans and the magical powers of cunning men and women” to see them through difficult times. Many protestants were dismayed the “opportunities had not been taken to overhaul the church courts and bishoprics”, as well as to “end pluralism and absenteeism in the parishes”. Other weaknesses in the post-reformation church were that “several thousand vicars had difficulty in supporting their families while other ministers could live like minor gentry”, for these reasons the “state of religion in Elizabethan England fell short of Puritan ideal”.In the second half of the reign, the “presence of a well-trained clergy was important for the task of evangelization”, and was a sign of a reformed church. This created new problems by separating and “alienating the graduate minister from his parishioners”. Ministers were now placed on a “social rank higher than most of his parishioners and was given the new honorific title of ‘Master'”, instead of being referred to by his Christian name and ‘sir’.When Elizabeth died, the strengths of the church, which she left to James I with regards to both Puritans and Catholics, were: that the puritans held “impossibly high standards” of what they considered to be a ‘true’ and ‘godly’ Church.In the second half of Elizabeth’s reign there were “improvements to the clergy and the revitalisation of the church courts”. A new framework for Protestant “worship and devotion was erected in most parishes”, this lead to major change in religious beliefs. Memories of Catholic forms of worship slowly disappeared, the “external features of the old religion were eventually removed from the churches”, and regular exposure to the Elizabethan prayer book, brought about “deep anti-papalism and strong iconophobia (hatred of images), and growing affection for the liturgy of the protestant service”. As a result a significant growth in protestant feeling can be detected in most religions after 1570.Finally court records suggest that the laity was showing a “greater readiness to attend church regularly during the last years of Elizabeth’s reign”. This presumably indicated the “acceptance of the protestant message in the sermon and liturgy”. England in 1603 could be described as “undoubtedly a protestant nation”, despite the continuation of superstitions and the “rudimentary understanding of doctrines”.In conclusion, when Elizabeth died, in 1603, there were more weaknesses than strengths of the church that she left to James I, as the clergy were ungodly in their behaviour, places were filled with under qualified men lacking in knowledge and skills, Marian Priests, who did their best not to spread Protestant ideas and teachings, and that graduate ministers were given the title of master to separate them from their parishioners. Whereas they did manage to achieve a new framework for worship, bring about deep anti-papalism and iconophobia, and brought about the acceptance of the protestant message in sermons.

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