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Study notes

Puritan Challenges to the Religious Settlement

  • Levels: GCSE
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Whilst most people were happy with Elizabeth's Religious Settlement, Puritans were not happy as they believed that it should go further in its reforms and make a truly radical Puritan church. They believed that Elizabeth had sacrificed too much to the Roman Catholics when creating the settlement.

One key road block to further reforms of the English Church was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker. He was a moderate or middle of the road Protestant who helped Elizabeth keep her Settlement in the middle way. Puritans disliked Parker because of this. Puritans wanted all aspects of Roman Catholicism removed from the English Church.

The Vestment Controversy

One of the major conflicts with Puritans came in the form of the Vestment Controversy during the 1560s.

Vestments are the clothing that Priests wear in the Protestant and Catholic Churches when celebrating the church service. Part of the vestment is the surplice, which is a white robe worn over the top of a cassock.

Puritan priests rejected the surplice as it was used by Catholics. This became a problem as the Act of Uniformity had made it the law for priests to wear one.

At first Elizabeth had ignored this fact that Puritan priests were ignoring the law, however, this changed in 1565. Elizabeth ordered the Archbishop of Canterbury to make sure that surplices were being worn properly. Any refusal meant the loss of jobs or being arrested.

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