Essay-style Questions: Elizabeth I

1.The Northern Rising - Sources work

Document A

The Council has decided, at the instance of the Duke of Norfolk and his friends, that the Queen of Scotland shall be set at liberty, on the condition that she marries an Englishman; the signatures of all the principal people in this country have been obtained to this effect.

The matter of her marriage is so far advanced that the French ambassador has been reconciled to it. I understand that, in a day or two, the duke himself or some other leading personage will come and request me to write to your Majesty to learn your wishes on the subject. The business is so far forward that it will be difficult now to prevent it, but I think it will be better that it should be done with your Majesty's consent, which cannot fail to be of great advantage, as it will bind them more closely than ever to your Majesty's service.

(Guera de Spes, Spanish ambassador in England to Philip II, 22nd August 1569)

Document B

Upon the first rumour of a marriage between the Duke of Norfolk and the Scottish Queen, the Papists much rejoiced, and imagined that religion would be altered, and took encouragement to speak against the Protestants, whereby much fear rose among the people.

Then news came that the Duke had left the Court, and gone into Norfolk, and that there upon the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland had caused their servants to take up their horses and be in readiness; where upon the people imagined that the earls would assist the Duke; but whether they caused their men to be in readiness, or had any such meaning, is unknown. I have heard since that the Earl of Northumberland has scarcely sufficient horses for his own family. There was another rumour that the confederates intended to deliver the Scottish Queen from the Earl of Shrewsbury.

When the Duke returned to Court, it was rumoured that the plotters, moved that religion should be the cause of their stir, upon which point it was said they disagreed and so departed; but neither the place where the assembly was held, nor the persons that attended are known, save that Robert Bowes and Francis Norton were the persons that disagreed; yet I have heard by one of their friends that there never was any such matter.

The persons named as great doers in these matters be all evil of religion.

(Notes sent by Sir Thomas Gargrave, in the north, to Sir William Cecil, 2nd November 1569)

1. The writers of Documents A and B are each sending back a report of a phase of the events to their governments. What similarities and what differences emerge in the ways they gather and interpret their information?

2. Did the arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots push the Catholics into a state of crisis, 1565-69?


Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

Possible responses

1. The first thing that you need to do is to 'unpack' the question. What exactly is it asking you to do? Highlight the key words.

The writers of Documents A and B are each sending back a report of a phase of the events to their governments. What similarities and what differences emerge in the ways they gather and interpret their information?

This question is asking quite a lot of you. But remember that it is worth only 6 marks.

Firstly, look at how the sources gather information. Source A for example, has based his account on council reports (which he would be privy to as an ambassador), court gossip and secret meetings. Source B's account is based on rumour, observation and hearsay.

Their differences are apparent.

Next, look at how each author has interpreted this information. Guera de Spes gives the impression that the proposed release of Mary is above board - a policy, if you like, which council has decided upon. If not that, then it certainly appears that Norfolk has the backing of council. He believes that it would be good for diplomatic relations if Philip agrees. It would, in effect, create an Anglo-Scottish-French alliance. De Spes probably believes that Spain cannot afford to be isolated.

Thomas Gargrave sees religion as the cause of the Northern uprising. He does mention Norfolk and the northern earls. In fact, he points to religion being the cause on two counts: with the earls and with the commons.

2. This is a 'for' and 'against' essay. You must try to demonstrate that you are aware of both sides of the argument while arguing one side more strongly than the other.

Ways in which it did:

  • The Catholics had a figurehead for a rebellion, someone who was an heir, and who was Catholic.
  • Mary was not too heavily guarded and would be relatively easy to release.
  • The plot to install Mary as the Queen had the backing of the Pope and Philip II.
  • Would they have revolted had they not had a figurehead? Certainly, the marriage plot would not have been made.

Ways in which it didn't:

  • They were in a state of crisis already? The Settlement had eroded their rights to practice Catholicism.
  • The causes of the Northern Rising are not limited to the marriage. Northumberland himself claimed to have risen for 'true religion', but never for the marriage. There were more fundamental religious, economic and political reasons for the rising.