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Elizabeth: how central government controlled local government


Central government controlled local government by….:

  • Loyalty: Personal loyalty to her=less rebellion and unrest. Used all means at her disposal to increase and foster loyalty, through church prayers and sermons, proclamations, spectacles in London, progresses through S.E and distribution of images in north.
  • Power of appointment: Eliz sacked Jp’s throughout her reign.
  • Patronage: expectation of promotion ensured loyalty + co-operation of much of politically active classes
  • Communication: privy council bombarded Jp’s with commands and directions which increased as reign progressed
  • Parliament: although parl was not permanently in session when did meet it acted as forum for discussion, giving landowners and gentry opportunity to air local grievances
  • Royal prerogative: the crown could by pass parl by issuing proclamations. These were particularly useful when parl was not in session as could supplement an existing law or deal with specific local problems
  • Propaganda: the crown carefully cultivated support of nobles and gentry by using printing press, pamphlets etc. cecil kept sort of ‘who’s ho’ of local families of note to ensure none were accidentally snubbed or overlooked.
  • Local interests: central government was sensitive to local issues and whenever possible responded positively to requests from interest groups also respected the knowledge and expertise of local men of status an was aware of the advantages of using local government. alternative was French system, Imposing army of civil servants on localities


Cecil contribution of Eliz Governments


  1. English intervention in Scotland 1560 secured the success of the Scottish reformation and subsequent expulsion of French troops from Scotland. Cecil pushed this policy despite eliz reluctance to aid scottish rebels.
  2. Spanish treasure ships on their way to pay Spanish soldiers in Netherlands were seized while sheltering in ports along coast of devon and cornwall in 1568. seizure challenged the power of spain and firmly established Cecil as Eliz chief adviser. Cecil argued that, as money would no legally belong to Spanish until it arrived, therefore technically it belonged to the lenders, eliz was free to ‘borrow it’. Cecil was created lord Burghley in 1571
  3. After his appointment as lord treasurer in 1572 historical opinion about his role is divided.

-MacCaffrey- sees him as keeping routine business smoothly

-Conyers- though he was responsible for finance, he was a councillor.

Responsible for 2 main decisions during this period.

  1. sending English troops to help protestant rebels in Netherlands.
  2.  dispatching Mary QofS death warrant,


  1. After 1586 burghley had to cope with financial and administrative burden caused by war with spain, while struggling with his own declining health.


Cecil achievements

By time of his death he’d been instrument in:

1. Drafting all Eliz correspondence with foreign ambassadors and agents, particularly between 1558-72, when he was principal adviser and executor for foreign affairs.

2. Continuing a prudent economic policy-cutting government expenditure, saving from ordinary revenues and selling crown lands- which ensured that England was able to meet the costs of war from 1580 onwards and to end reign with comparatively small debt.

3. creating an intelligence service at home and abroad

4. managing business of house of lords and commons through organisation and attention to detail

5. providing effective methods of administration for the privy council which as the centre of government concerned itself with everything that went on in country

6. Creating a propaganda system which ensured public acceptance of eliz political regime and her religious settlement.


Issues that divided the Privy council


1562- eliz wanted to meet MaryQofS. In end she doesn’t go.

1567- council split over decision to marry catholic archduke charles of Austria. Leicester works desperately to prevent the match. Norfolk, sussex and cecil are in favour of it. Eliz hesitates then rejects Charles.

1567-70- Council meets frequently to discuss dangers arising from arrival of MaryQofS, English Catholics and threat from spain. Cecil and bacon want to establish alliance with foreign Protestants, lesicester and Arundel in favour with an agreement with mary and france. Eliz is keen to hear advise but she’s under no obligation to follow it.

1578- council divided over sending military aid to rebels in Netherlands, Leicester and Walsingham urging intervention vs Burghley counselling against it. Council form 2 distinctive groups. Eliz intervenes 7 years later

1579-81- marriage proposals between eliz and duke of Alencon. Public hostility towards match. Campaign of hostile sermons probably orchestrated by Leicester and Walsingham. Majority of councillors are opposed. Oct 1579- neither recommend for or against marriage. Eliz threatens to create 3 new catholic councillors then asks council again for advice. Sussex, Burghley and Hundson again refuse to oppose the marriage, Leicester continues to whip up public opinion, despite exchanging betrothal rings, eliz rejects Alencon.

1586-council push eliz to call parl to sanction a death warrant for Mar, QofS. Walsingham claims to have heard a plot to blow up eliz with gunpowder under her bed. Eliz reluctantly signs arrant and Davison dispatches it w/o permission- sent to tower for it.

1590- new generation of politicians had matured- Robert Cecil and Earl of Essex. Each commands a party of supporters at a local and parliamentary level. Eliz hears of essex huge ambition and ensure political vacancies go to cecil and his followers. Polarises council into 2 factions. Essex execution leaves cecil’s faction supreme.


How did Eliz control her council?

  • Eliz participated in discussion to prevent the council agreeing on formal advice which she would later reject. She refused to deal with council as a whole, only discussing policy with small groups
  • Eliz kept accurate notes which she used to question councillors closely and catch them out
  • Eliz consulted with men outside council, particularly foreign ambassadors
  • Eliz promoted divisions among her councillors, encouraging them to compete for rewards.
  • Eliz displayed anger and even violence-

-exclusion from court [Leicester and Walsingham]

-house arrest [Arundel]

-Imprisonment [Davision and Cecil]

-Execution [Norfolk and Essex]

        Eliz displayed Affection


Why had Burghley and Leicester become rivals by 1570s

-cecil=cautious and devout man, wanted to maintain English security and avoid war. Saw Dudley as more adventurer whose sole aim was to enrich friends and gain power for himself

-Dudley= tried to prevent eliz from marrying anyone as it’d lead to decline of his influence. Urged military intervention to support protestants rebels in france and Netherlands.


Examples of Successful government policy

Council gave Eliz contrasting advise, enabling her to reach measured decisions

Spanish defeated in war

A protestant church was established

Eliz did not want to marry a foreigner

Rebellions in Ireland were crushed

Help was sent to dutch rebels

Mary QofS was executed


Examples of successful administrative practises 

Much of councils work was routine and this continues despite periods of rivalry

Hearing petitions

Supervising enforcement of religious settlement

Meeting ambassadors

Organising work of Jps

Overseeing parliamentary business

Co-coordinating defences

Overseeing finances

Drafting correspondence


        One of Eliz 1st decisions was to choose the composition of her council. She opted for a balance between experience, retaining some of Edward and Marys councillors, and new blood, by appointing Boleyn relatives and men nominated by Cecil

        Within the council an inner group of professional administrators were responsible for day to day administration + for advising the queen

        The most important member of council was Cecil (Lord Burghley) who advised queen throughout her reign, first as her personal secretary then as lord treasurer

        Although cecil governed country well, it was not always united, the greatest divisions were over her privy council by using her power of appointment and because as queen=ultimate decision making laws lay with her.




Elizabethan parliaments 1568- 1603

Parl could be controlled by queen in a variety of methods

        Imprison mp’s

        Veteo bills

        Delay bills

        Carefully arrange business of house of commons-keep them busy

        Dismiss parl if got out of control

        Limit freedom or speech in commons, usually when her prerogative powers were concerned [foreign policy, sucession etc]


Parl main function was to pass laws and raise taxes

Eliz parl didn’t meet frequently and when it did it met for short sessions- 13 session over 44 years of her reign.


Main purpose of parl:

Under early tudors

Under Eliz

  • Money for wards [raising taxes] or for rebellions- Henry VII,VIII and mary
  • Parl legalised break with rome, set precedent- Edward –Protestantism, mary-catholicism. If wanted change in religious settlement had to go through parl.
  • Raising taxes- 11/13 sessions
  • Restoration of royal supremacy over church
  • Parl pressuring her into making decisions eg: over mary queen of scots- coz she’s female, eurotic over sucession etc. doesn’t mean she does what they say. Fears over mary- pressurising out of loyalty not disloyalty.







Parl met frequently at start of Henry VII reign-needed to established tudor dynasty lawfully and needed money to pay for war and defence against rebellions. In last 12 years of reign, parl only met twice. Henry=more secure and less in need of taxation.


Duke of somerset and Northumberland used parl to establish Protestantism during reign of Edward, but preferred to impose decisions using royal proclamations. Somerset infuriated landowners in commons with his economic policies. Northumberland ensures that somerset trial and plans for altering sucession took placr when parl not in session.

Henry VIII caused parl initially to finance wars but arguments over finances were called after 1515. in 1530’s however the authority of parl increased dramatically when legalised break with rome and established henry as head of church. In latter years of reign a grand foreign policy nearly bankrupted the cron and led to increased dependence on parl for finance.

Mary used parl to restore Catholicism. Parl showed hostility towards her marriage to Philip of spain and drew up a marriage treaty. It was also reluctant to grant the taxes necessary to support spain in war against france.


-attendance at sessions was poor and declined according to length

only 10% of mp’s spoke and 47% voted

eliz aimed for short sessions to grant money quickly but some mps held up business with local issues

mps carefully vetted by council

parl under control by eliz councillors- nominate mps

eliz used personality to charm or threaten subjects into obeying

needed taxation due to financial crisis

met 13 times in 44 years





  • Power of house of commons increased throughout eliz reign. Evidence- no of conflicts eliz had with individual mps
  • Roots of civil war 1640 lay in eliz reign. Commons gained self confidence and awareness of its powers- characterised by increasingly sophisticated methods of managing procedure.
  • Due to arrival at Westminster of well educated and articulate gentry class, representing the boroughs as well as shires and to an orchestrated puritan opposition group- puritan choir, who deliberately planned confrontations to force the issue of parliamentary privilege vs royal prerogative

Is he right?

        Commons increased in power 1530-s not in latter half on 16th century when it gained equal status in establishing royal supremacy

        However place in government still dependant on monarch who controlled sessions-summon and dissolve

        Techniques by which privy council managed commons established in 1559. council formulated policy, steered government bills etc.

        Eliz allowed commons less freedom of speech than father.

        Legislative rather than political body passed 434 acts and got subsidies in most. 11/13

        Based on research on legislative role of parl. By concentrating on law making procedures and legislative output, unlike Neale who focused on moments of conflict and confrontation

        Parl dealt with mostly routine administration, subsidys, debates and pass bills

        Doesn’t deny some sessions witness heated debates and outright opposition but this was part of the way parl functioned and did not prevent sessions from closing harmoniously.




Act I,scene I

Camillo and Archidamus talk at the start- brings together past, present and whats to come.

Past: boyhood of the kings, present: affection for each other future: sicilias hope for it’s heir. “a gentleman of the greatest promise”

Archidamus: “you shall see, as I have said, great differences betwixt our bohemia and your sicilia” first speech and already gives hints.

Camillo “Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia

Ironic contradictions: Leo+Poli love so deeply rooted it

Camillo: “cannot choose but branch now”,- meant to be branch as in extend but could mean break away..

“from the ends of opposed winds” again strange thing to say

Archidamus: “I think there is not in the world either malice nor matter to alter it”, dramatic irony as there is malice and matter to alter it.

Ominous undertones “if the king had no son…”

Talking in prose (?)


ActI Scene II

Poli changes tone from prose to verse. Poetic language introduces pastoral element into play. Rhythm of the shared lines is steady, insisting the harmonious relationship between the two.

Poli: “left our throne without a burden” ironic as the burdens beginning.

Poli describes childhood of blissful pastoral innocence. Shows pastoral theme later not out of context.  “Twinn’d lambs that did frisk I’th’sun”

Poli: “there is no tongue that moves, none, none I’th’world so soon as yours could win me” lies as it’s Hermione who wins his over not Leo!

Hermione ordered to make poli stay: leo: “tongue tied our queen?speak you”

But only doing it for Leo as when convinces poli she immediately asks “I’ll question you of my lords tricks” “was not my lord the verier wag o’th’two?” showing that only interest in leontes, knowing much about him and only wants leo to be happy.

Leo: “three crabbed months had soured themselves to death” talking about their wedding but the imagery used is distorted and corrupt, showing jealously inflicting?

Leo=sudden fit of madness, even son cannot divert his attention.  Verse demonstrates Leo’s mental processes, beating irregularly as his heart “dances, but not for joy-not joy”. 

. “Too hot, too hot! To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods!” “paddling palms and pinching fingers” showing madness escalating.

His words fall over their own suggestions and ‘neat’ =(tidy and clean) brings to mind the name of cattle, horns=cuckold!. APPEARANCE ALTERS DRAMATICALLY. Keeps animal imagery throughout that speech with “you wanton calf! Art thou my calf?”

Leo: “art thou my boy?” paranoia kicking in. questions own child.

Tries to cover up by drawing attention to his son but laying traps with ironic implications. “I am angling now” fishing for clues. ‘dear’ is both expensive and beloved.  Imagination rises to fever pitch as they depart. Rhythmns of his speech distorted with hysteria, word play is frantic, images reveal the obscene imagining in his mind.

Poli: reveals how much he loves his own son “his varying childness cures in me Thoughts that would thick my blood.” Showing that his son cures him just by being there. Irony as Leo says “so stands this squire offic’d with me” Mamillius does cure leo but only by his death.

When Hermione and poli leave leo: “go play, boy play; thy mother plays and I play to” menaing that sends Mamillius to amuse himself, Hermione is with her ‘lover’ and leo performing role of husband who’s wife is unfaithful.

Paranoia continues: “they’re here with me already: whispering Sicilia is a so-forth” can’t bring himself to say word. Only just happened and he’s already mistrusts everyone. Leo’s speak deteriorates “Ha?”

Camillo described as a priest “wherein, priest like, though hast cleans’d my bosom” maintings his honour and loyalty with great respect for leo until leo attacks Hermione. Camillo defends his “sovereign mistress” “you never spoke what did become you less than this” but leo is unmovable. “Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek?.... is this nothing? Why , then the world and all that’s in’t is nothing, the covering sky nothing; bohemia nothing; my wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings if this be nothing.” Escalading madness.

Camillo realises that he has a “diseas’d opinion”  and later when talking to poli “there is a sickness” “I cannot name the disease and it’s caught of you, that yet are well”

Camillo clever-tells king what he wants to hear but with a condition “I do; and will fetch off Bohemia for’t” “your highness will take again your queen as yours at first.”

‘fetch off’ could mean kill but could also mean take away, rescue.

When Leo leaves Camillo perfectly articulates his dilemma so that audience/reader can be confident in him and his judgements. No doubt in his and our midns of innocence of Hermione and Poli.

Leo=threatening and nasty to Camillo-= “thou art not honest”, “thou art a coward”, “your eye-glass is thicker than a cuckolds horn”

Leo horrible to Hermione= “my wife’s a hobby horse” “flax-wench”

Poli gives him praises and appeals to his honour= “your complexions are to me a mirror which shows me mine chang’d too” “you are certainly a gentleman” “noble names” “which honour does acknowledge”

Camillo practical=has all arrangements made.  “I am charg’d in honour and by him that I think honourable”

“This jealously is for a precious creature; as she’s rare must it be great; and as his persons mighty Must it be violent…. His revenge must un that be made more bitter” “gracious queen”


Act 2 Scene 1

Mamillius: “a sad tale’s best for winter”

Blissful domestic tranquillity shattered by Leontes reacting with quick questioning. Movement of verse reveals agitation of his thoughts- stops and starts, abrupt changes in direction, violent imagery.

“make known How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides with violent hefts. I have drunk and seen the spider” sinister.

Twists words

Hermione: “What is this? Sport?”

Leo: “let her sport herself with that she’s big with”

Hermione: “You, my lord, do but mistake”

Leo: “You have mistook, my lady, Polixenes for Leontes”

“goodly bulk” now become “polixenes Has made thee swell thus”- disease/tumour

Insults to Hermione continue: “she’s a traitor” “a bed-swerver” “an adult’ress”

Hermione: “How will this grieve you, when you shall come to clearer knowledge” ironic as he does grieve.

Hermione dignified- “I am not prone to weeping”…. “but I have that honourable grief lodged here which burns worse than tears drown”

accepting her predicament with saint-like resignation as a trial for her spiritual strength “this action I now go on Is for my better grace” “I never wish’d to see you sorry: now I trust I shall”

Leotnes= childish “Shall I be heard?”

Antigonus=blunt farmyard language, challenges leo “In the which three great ones suffer; Yourself, your queen, your son” blunt, to the point. Stop it as you’re hurting everyone and yourself.

Lord: “the queen is spotless I’th’eyes of heaven”

Antigonus “every dram of woman’s flesh is false if she be”

Leo just responds with more insults “either thou art most ignorant by age Or Thou wert born a fool”

Antigonus: “if the good truth were known”  to audience shows he believes Hermione innocent


Scene II

Easier mood continues, Paulina shares husbands faith that Hermione’s innocent. “To lock up honest and honour from th’access of gentle visitors!”

Fearlessly outspoken and logical in her argument. “if I prove honey-mouth’d, ;let my tongue blister”

“The child was prisoner to the womb and is by law and process of nature, thence Freed and enfranchis’d”


Scene III

Leo tormenting himself- interprets sickness of son as Hermione’s disgrace. 

“for present vengeance Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow”

Paulina upfront, “tyrannous passion”

Paulina presents herself as physician who’d bring nature’s remedy for his disordered sense.  “I come to bring him sleep” “do come with words as med’cinal as true, Honest, as either, to purge him of that humour That presses him from sleep” “myself your loyal servant, your physician, Your most obedient counsellor”

“I charg’d thee that she should not come about me. I knew she would” leo fears her.

Paulina no doubts of queen innocence with repetition of “good queen”

Leo responds with insults once more: “mankind witch” “nest of traitors” “Dame partlet” “A callat” “ gross hag”

Paulina: “it is an heretic that makes the fire, Not she which burns in’t” irony as he’s made this hell for himself and he’s the one suffering.

Leo violent “the bastards brains with these my proper hands Shall I dash out”

Leo irony: “so shall she have a just and open trial” lies as she doesn’t, condemned from the start.


Act3 Scene 2

Leo anxious to prove he’s not a tyrant “let us be clear’d of being tyrannous”

“to the guilt or the purgation” not innocence. unfair.

 but he’s quick to interrupt and contradict her defence.  Hermione remains dignified and controlled in her self-justification. She describes her feelings but does not give them away until very end of the hearing. “my past life hath been as continent, as chaste, as true, As I am now unhappy” “for conspiracy, I know not how it tastes, though it be dish’d for me to try how”

“the bug which you would fright me with I seek”….. “tell me what blessing I have here alive That I should fear to die” “but for mine honour Which I would free” “appollo be my judge!”

Oracles words drop with icy precision “Hermione is chaste; Polixenes blameless; Camillo a true subject; Leontes a jealous tyrant”

Leo refuses to accept judgement- retribution immediate- son dies. Leo comes to sense and Hermione ‘dies’.

“she will recover” “new woo my queen” leo unrealistic.

Paulina gives long speech to build up fresh list of everything leo’s done “thou betray’dst Polixenes”, “poison’d good Camillo’s honesty”, “casting forth to crows thy baby daughter”, “the death of the young prince”  and finally “the queen, The sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead!”

Paulina rubs it in “the love I bore your queen-Lo, fool again! I’ll speak of her no more, or of your children, I’ll not remember you of my own lord who is lost too”


Scene 3:

Narration= melodramatic but succeeded by comedy with the bear. Changes mood for the pastoral scenes.

“upon the earth of it’s right faher” antigonus believes Hermione’s is adulteress ?

Horror and pity discovered in Clowns interpretation of events, detail is striking but abrupt subject switches deflect all emotion.

Clown: “the poor souls roared and the sea mocked them; and how the poor genleman roared and the bear mocked him”

Shepherd: “some stair work, some trunk word, some behind-door-work”

“Thou met’t with things dying, I with things new-born”

Tragic first part of play= loss despair death to new birth, good fortune.


Act4 Scene 1

Set apart from rest of play, single speech in rhyming couplets. Father of truth.


Scene 2

Mirror image of first part of play- courtly prose. Camillo’s become counsellor, guide and friend to Polixenes but poli=selfish, silences camillo’s longings to see sicilia with own anxieties. Masks stern reality the suspicious king set secret agents to watch his own son, theme of deception and disguise

Poli: “Tis a sickness denying thee anything; a death to grant this” using corrupt imagery like Leontes

“better not to have had thee than thus to want thee”

“I have eyes under my service which look upon his removedness”

“We must disguise ourselves”


scene 3

tensions of court dispersed by autolycus with a song.

“doth set my pugging tooth on edge”

“I have served Prince Florizel, and in my time wore three pile; but now I am out of service”

“a snapper up of unconsidered trifles”

“beating and hanging are terrors to me”

“a prize!” childlike.

 He’s Shakespeare’s own creation . brings humour, cones clown out of money and the sheep shearing feast become focus of his and audiences attention.

Clever in use of phrasing “I know this man well” “he settled only in rogue. Some call him Autolycus” claiming been robbed by himself.  Not exactly lying!

Clown: looked big and spit at him, he’d have run”

Autolycus: “I must confess to you sir, I am no fighter” irony.


Scene 4


Perdita knows place “Sir my gracious lord” “your high self” “gracious mark of the land”

Perdita embarrassed by costume “most goddess-like pranked up” only doing it to satisfy tradition.

“To think your father by some accident should pass this way as you did” irony as he does, preparing us for the rest of scene, shows perdita intelligent and logical like mother.

Florizel’s poetic language with amorous gods, only gets practical commonsense response.

Flo. “The transformations were never for a piece of beauty rarer, Nor in a way so chaste”

Per. “you must change this purpose Or I my life”

Perdita ends up in heated discussion with poli about flowers. She doesn’t want to improve on nature.

Irony in what he says “so over that art which you say adds to Nature is an art That Nature makes” 2conceive a bark of a base kind by bud of nobler race” “the art itself is nature” saying mixing bloods is good thing. Ironic as doesn’t apply this to her and florizel.

Perdita powerful force on stage- given lines of lyrical beauty. Practical Camillo is fascinated and moved to poetic wonderment “I should leave grazing, were I of your flock And only live by gazing” “The queen of curds and cream”

Poli: “nothing she does or seems But smacks of something greater than herself Too noble for this place”

Love between perdita and florizel. Perdita. “no, like a bank for Love to lie and play on, Not like a corse; or if, not to be buried But quick and in mine arms”

Floriz. “so turtles pair,That never mean to part”

Poli: “Tis time to part them” intended all along to ruin their happiness before he goes skitzo at them.

“I was wont to load my she with knacks” poli talks about love and affection that you can buy, not the real love florizel and perdita feel. Florizel realises this “she prizes not such trifles”

perdita “I cannot speak so well, nothing so well; no nor mean better”

florizel: “mark our contract”

poli: “mark your divorce”

perdita described as “excellent witchcraft” poli threatens to “have thy beauty scratched with briers”

perdita was “not much afeard; or once or twice I was aout to speak and tlel him plainly the selfsame sun that shines upon his court hides not his visage from our cottage, but looks on alike”

“I’ll queen it no inch father but milk my ewes and weep”

Camillo seizes on florizels uncertainty and turns it for his own purpose, manipulating actions of characters. “as if The scene you play were mine”



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