Elizabeth’s religious and political policies displayed her cunning characteristics of being both loved. Her use of justification by force rather than law was effective and was a main reason for her success. The Queen surrounded herself with shrewd and wise advisors but also carefully questioned the motives of her closest consultants. In Machiavellian style, Elizabeth’s religious policy fluctuated between toleration and repression according to the needs of the present time. But despite the conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants, Elizabeth still pursued a middle way between the feuding religions.
In the Elizabethan Settlement, Elizabeth and Parliament required conformity in the Church of England but allowed people to worship Protestantism and Catholicism privately. In the Thirty-Nine Articles, Elizabeth defined the Anglican Church as following the Protestant doctrine but keeping the Catholic hierarchy. The Queen abolished presbytery structure and other corrupt church practices but kept a centralized figure head (monarchy). Elizabeth as well showed little mercy to anyone who threatened her rule. Religious extremists such as Puritans and Catholics were given a choice to reform or be exiled in
Elizabeth’s Conventicle Act. Because of these actions, Elizabeth is also considered a politique: she put political over religious matters. Another example of Elizabeth following the Machiavellian concept is her refusal of marriage to King Philip II of Spain. Elizabeth was married to her country and did not want a King to come along and change the religion and take all her power. In her foreign policy, she was systematic because it was designed to keep her in power. One example of a threat to Elizabeth’s power was Mary Queen of Scots.
Many of Elizabeth’s Catholic enemies wanted to see her replaced by Mary. Because of the many threats Elizabeth received from her, Mary was executed, despite being Elizabeth’s relative. Elizabeth killed Mary for the good of England and did not let any person interfere with her ruling. Although Elizabeth dealt horribly with those who tried to overthrow her, Elizabeth’s people loved her even after her death because of her strong command of respect and loyalty. By following the Machiavellian style, Queen Elizabeth I became seen as one of the most influential ruler who led England successfully.
In French history, Prince Henry of Navarre is known as being Machiavellian. Prince Henry, who although was Protestant, converted to a Catholic for the good of France. Since the Bourbon Prince was Protestant and a legal heir to the French throne, it posed a problem because of France being strongly Catholic. Although there was an attempt by Henry III to grant Huguenots almost complete freedom in the Peace of Beaulieu, it fails and Henry III seeks aid from Henry of Navarre. After Henry III dies, Prince Henry of Navarre succeeds him and becomes King Henry IV.
Because Spain was intervening in other matters, Henry IV became stronger in his rule. He was widely liked by France and did what was best for the country. The King put his politics and image with the French people before his religion. He converted from Calvinism to Catholicism to please the masses of France. In the Edict of Nantes, Henry made a formal religious settlement for the Huguenots. The Huguenots received religious toleration and private worshipping outside of Paris. The Edict was considered a truce rather than religious tolerance as it gave the Huguenots protection.
King Henry issued the edict in order to save the national unity of France. He saved France from religious turmoil even if it meant for him to give up his own religion. “Paris is worth the mass” is one of his famous sayings. He asserts that it is more important to secure the unity and safety of a nation than to not be stubborn and not follow the mass. King Henry IV was one of the most popular French kings, both during and after his reign. He showed great care for the welfare of his subjects and displayed an unusual religious tolerance for the time.
King Henry sacrificed a great amount for the good of his country by putting political over religious matters and doing whatever it takes to reach success. Machiavelli has had enormous influence on the world’s successful rulers. People like Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry IV ruled their country with great attention. These rulers were war wise, noble, brave, strong, and kept faith in others at a minimum. Elizabeth and Henry did what was best for their country, even if it meant sacrificing religion. They used any means to stay in power. Elizabeth I and Henry IV truly displayed Machiavellian characteristics through the way they used their power.