The Catholic threat to Elizabeth I increased after 1566 due to the arrival of Mary
The Catholic threat to Elizabeth I increased after 1566 due to the arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots in England. In Scotland, Protestants were very unhappy about the amount of French influence over Scotland. Protestant Scottish Lords overthrew Mary, with the help of Elizabeth, and made the Treaty of Edinburgh. Scotland was now a Protestant country. The treaty stated that Mary would give up her claim to the English throne, Mary refused. After the death of her husband, King Francis II of France, Mary returned to Scotland. Mary was still queen of Scotland, but did not have the same authority. In 1565, Mary married Lord Darnley and gave birth to a son, James. In 1567, Darnley was murdered, probably by the Earl of Bothwell and Mary was suspected of being involved. Mary married Bothwell soon after Darnley’s death which for many was an admission of guilt. The Scottish Protestant lords rebelled again, and Mary was forced to abdicate, making James the King of Scotland, and was imprisoned in a castle in the middle of a lake. During her imprisonment, Mary began to raise an army in an attempt to regain the Scottish throne and eventually escaped in 1568. However, Mary’s army was defeated at Langside near Glasgow and she fled to England to seek help from Elizabeth I. This put Elizabeth in a difficult position and was very threatening to her power. If Mary was released, she would be able to raise and army and possibly take the English throne from Elizabeth restore Catholicism.
Moreover, Mary would also have the opportunity to regain the Scottish throne and restore Catholicism in both England and Scotland. A court heard the case against Mary between October 1568 and January 1569. Mary claimed they had no right to try an anointed monarch and would not offer a plea unless Elizabeth guaranteed a verdict of innocent to which Elizabeth refused and no verdict was made. If found guilty, Mary would be returned to the Protestant Scottish lords as their prisoner and Elizabeth would have supported the deposing of an anointed monarch and thereby implying she thought that overthrowing monarchs was acceptable. If found innocent, Mary would once again be free to raise an army, possibly with foreign Catholic threat which would pose too much of a threat to Elizabeth. Mary was imprisoned and kept under surveillance for 19 years but her presence in England still threatened Elizabeth due to the number of plots surrounding her that reinforced the threat posed by Mary and Catholics at home and abroad to Elizabeth. This directly threatened Elizabeth’s position, Protestantism and the Religious Settlement and therefore increased the Catholic threat to Elizabeth.
Another reason the Catholic threat to Elizabeth increased after 1566 was due to the Northern Rebellion. This was a plot which involved Mary, Queen of Scots and was arranged by the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland. It was planned that Mary would marry the Duke of Norfolk, a Protestant but with many close connections to old northern Catholic families, but he backed down from the plot. Northumberland and Westmorland were both from ancient Catholic families who found their influence significantly decrease during Elizabeth’s reign. Both Earls hated newcomers such as Cecil and Dudley who both had much more influence over Elizabeth but did not come from ancient families, moreover, they were both Protestant. The Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland planned to free Mary and either use her to make Elizabeth give into the concessions of her church or depose Elizabeth altogether. This directly threatened Protestantism, the Religious Settlement and Elizabeth’s authority as its main aim was to restore Catholicism in England and thereby reversing the efforts of Elizabeth to find a compromise in her religious settlement and also the Reformation.