This book assesses the English national war effort during the Anglo-Spanish war (1585–1603), examining wartime government in a wide-ranging set of contexts. It looks first at political problems: the structure of the wartime state, popular attitudes to the war and the government’s efforts to influence them, resistance to demands, and the problems of governing a country divided in religion and a regime deeply fearful of the future. It then assesses the machinery in practice, looking at the work of the central regime under the Queen herself alongside the local government machinery of lord lieutenancies which carried the demands of the centre into the counties, towns and parishes of England. These mechanisms of rule were crucial to the success of the war effort, by providing troops to fight overseas, running the militia which defended against the Spanish Armada (1588) and other invasion attempts and paying for them both through local taxes. The book draws evidence and case studies from across the country and from politics and government at all levels, from the court and Privy Council to the counties and parishes, but it seeks to examine England as a single polity. In this way it ranges much more widely than the war alone and provides a new assessment of the effectiveness of the Elizabethan state as a whole. It challenges many existing assumptions about the weakness of the state in the face of military change, finding a political system in much better health than has previously been thought.
This chapter addresses one of the lord lieutenancies’ most important roles, the organisation and running of the county militias intended to defend against invasion attempts. The chapter firstly looks at the militia chronologically. It considers early Elizabethan attempts to reform the militia, notably the creation of the ‘Trained Bands’ in the years leading up to the crisis of the Spanish Armada (1588). It then looks at the crisis itself, during which the militia did not have to fight, but demonstrated good levels of organisation and readiness, and finally looks at how readiness was maintained during the remaining 15 years of war, when there were several further invasion scares. The second part of the chapter assesses the militia thematically: its organisation, training and equipment. Overall, the chapter concludes that the militia, although inconsistent and often badly run, made real improvements over the period in terms of weaponry, organisation and training. Whilst the military prowess of the militia remained untested, the chapter shows that the ability of the privy council to generate activity and the willingness of the lieutenancies and the wider population to carry it out was greater than usually thought.
Shakespeare’s time. Many Elizabethans would have
offered arguments based on the facts of history. Thus, they would
have cited the victories of smaller English forces over larger
French armies at Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356), and Agincourt
(1415); over larger Scottish forces at Solway Moss (1542); and, more
recently, over the larger SpanishArmada (1588). In this historical
Catholicism that characterised England during the reigns of Elizabeth
and her successors. The secret Jesuit missions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the attempted invasion by the SpanishArmada (1588),
the Gunpowder Plot (1605), the periodic Jacobite invasions after 1688,
and French involvement in the 1798 rebellion in Ireland all contributed
religion, gender, and the virgin mary
to the popular stereotype of English Roman Catholics as actual or potential traitors. Partly because of a perceived link between