No marked repugnance to the new worship was shown by the people at large; and Elizabeth was able to turn from questions of belief to the question of order.
She found in Matthew Parker, whom Pole's death enabled her to raise to the see of Canterbury, an agent in the reorganization of the Church whose patience and moderation were akin to her own. Theologically the Primate was a moderate man, but he was. resolute to restore order in the discipline and worship of the Church. The whole machinery of English religion had been thrown out of gear by the rapid and radical changes of the past two reigns. The majority of the parish priests were still Catholic in heart; sometimes mass was celebrated at the parsonage for the more rigid Catholics, and the new communion in church for the more rigid Protestants. Sometimes both parties knelt together at the same altar-rails, the one to receive hosts consecrated by the priest at home after the old usage, the other wafers consecrated in Church after the new. In many parishes of the north no change of service was made at all. On the other hand, the new Protestant clergy were often unpopular, and roused the disgust of the people by their violence and greed. Chapters plundered their own estates by leases and fines and by felling timber. The marriages of the clergy became a scandal, which was increased when the gorgeous vestments of the old worship were cut up into gowns and bodices for the priests' wives.
The new services sometimes turned into scenes of utter disorder where the clergy wore what dress they pleased and the communicant stood or sate as he liked; while the old altars were broken down and the communion-table was often a bare board upon trestles. The people, naturally enough, were found to be "utterly devoid of religion," and came to church " as to a May game." To the difficulties which Parker found in the temper of the reformers and their opponents new difficulties were added by the freaks of the Queen. If she had no convictions, she had tastes; and her taste revolted from the bareness of Protestant ritual and above all from the marriage of priests. " Leave that alone," she shouted to Dean Nowell from the royal closet as he denounced the use of images - "stick to your text, Master Dean, leave that alone! " When Parker was firm in resisting the introduction of the crucifix or of celibacy, Elizabeth showed her resentment at his firmness by an insult to his wife. Married ladies were addressed at this time as "Madam," unmarried ladies as "Mistress;" and when Mrs. Parker advanced at the close of a sumptuous entertainment at Lambeth to take leave of the Queen, Elizabeth feigned a momentary hesitation. " Madam," she said at last, "I may not call you, and Mistress I am loth to call you; however, I thank you for your good cheer." To the end of her reign indeed Elizabeth remained as bold a plunderer of the wealth of the bishops as either of her predecessors, and carved out rewards for her ministers from the Church-lands with a queenly disregard of the rights of property.
Lord Burleigh built up the estate of the house of Cecil out of the demesnes of the see of Peterborough. The neighbourhood of Hatton Garden to Ely Place recalls the spoliation of another bishopric in favour of the Queen's sprightly chancellor. Her reply to the bishop's protest against this robbery showed what Elizabeth meant by her Ecclesiastical Supremacy. "Proud prelate," she wrote, "you know what you were before I made you what you are! If you do not immediately comply with my request, by God I will unfrock you." But freaks of this sort had little real influence beside the steady support which the Queen gave to the Primate in his work of order. She suffered no plunder save her own, and she was earnest for the restoration of order and decency in the outer arrangements of the Church. The vacant sees were filled for the most part with learned and able men; and England seemed to settle quietly down in a religious peace.
The settlement of religion however was not the only pressing care which met Elizabeth as she mounted the throne. The country was drained by war; yet she could only free herself from war, and from the dependence on Spain which it involved, by acquiescing in the loss of Calais. But though peace was won by the sacrifice, France remained openly hostile; the Dauphin and his wife, Mary Stuart, had assumed the arms and style of King and Queen of England; and their pretensions became a source of immediate danger through the presence of a French army in Scotland. To understand, however, what had taken place there we must cursorily review the past history of the Northern Kingdom. From the moment when England finally abandoned the fruitless effort to subdue it the story of Scotland had been a miserable one. Whatever peace might be concluded, a sleepless dread of the old danger from the south tied the country to an alliance with France, which dragged it into the vortex of the Hundred Years' War. But after the final defeat and capture of David in the field of Neville's Cross the struggle died down on both sides into marauding forays and battles, like those of Otterburn and Homildon Hill, in which alternate victories were won by the feudal lords of the Scotch or English border.
The ballad of "Chevy Chase" brings home to us the spirit of the contest, the daring and defiance which stirred Sidney's heart" more than with a trumpet." But its effect on the internal developement of Scotland was utterly ruinous. The houses of Douglas and of March which it raised into supremacy only interrupted their strife with England to battle fiercely with one another or to coerce their King. The power of the Crown sank in fact into insignificance under the earlier sovereigns of the line of Stuart which had succeeded to the throne on the extinction of the male line of Bruce. Invasions and civil feuds not only arrested but even rolled back the national industry and prosperity. The country was a chaos of disorder and misrule, in which the peasant and the trader were the victims of feudal outrage. The Border became a lawless land, where robbery and violence reigned utterly without check. So pitiable seemed the state of the kingdom that the clans of the Highlands drew together at last to swoop upon it as a certain prey; but the common peril united the factions of the nobles, and the victory of Harlaw saved the Lowlands from the rule of the Celt. A great name at last broke the line of the Scottish kings.