KS3 > The Reformation > Parliaments > Elizabeth I 1st Parliament
by Richard Burchett
© Palace of Westminster
Elizabeth called this Parliament soon after becoming Queen. Its most important work was a new religious settlement, one that is still the basis for the Church of England today. Elizabeth was known to be a Protestant and many expected she would once again leave the Roman Catholic Church.
Elizabeth certainly wanted to do this, but most importantly she wanted a compromise to avoid the ‘continual change and alteration’ in religion that had happened in the previous twenty years. The country was divided along religious lines, and Elizabeth was determined not to ‘make windows into men’s souls’.
MPs worked on several Acts to once again reform the church, including:
- The Act of Uniformity re-introduced the Book of Common Prayer, based largely on Edward VI’s version. Once again Protestant teachings were introduced, but for some the measures did not go far enough.
These acts were a compromise as Elizabeth did not want to alienate Catholics. It made the Church of England very unusual. It was not Catholic but was also unlike other Protestant churches across Europe. Services were in English, not Latin, and priests were allowed to marry. However, some more traditional aspects remained, such as church music. The compromise was challenged many times. Catholics still felt that Elizabeth’s changes went too far, but some Protestants felt she did not go far enough.
For more on the Elizabeth Religious Settlement, see our Explore article
Frontispiece to Simonds D'Ewes, 'Journals of All the Parliaments during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth' (1682)
Elizabeth's First Parliament
Dec 1558 – Jan 1559
In 1554, Elizabeth had been imprisoned when her half-sister Mary was Queen, as she had been accused of being involved in a Protestant rebellion. Elizabeth never denied her Protestant faith, despite the danger she faced whilst Mary was queen.