Influence of William Cecil Later Lord Burghley on Elizabeth and his Role in her Government
William Cecil’s influence touched on just about all aspects of policy that occurred during Elizabeth’s long reign. In the Royal Court he brought order and stability. Cecil was also highly influential in foreign policy. He saw France and Spain as threats to. It has also been argued that Cecil was not just the provider of advice and executor of the Queens wishes but also that he could have been the power behind the throne.
Plenty of evidence has come to light that suggests that the Secretary regularly attempted to manipulate Elizabeth however it would be inaccurate to assume that all of Cecil’s personal agendas were fruitful, Elizabeth could make her own mind up and often did so. Although Cecil was a prominent figure during this time, Elizabeth was still the person who ruled the country and had her own ideas on how to run the country. Elizabeth was firmly in control of major policies and on many occasions obstinately ignored the Councils advice.
The Council conscientiously carried out the Queens wishes even when it had advised otherwise. There is general agreement that, until its decline in the 1590s central government under Elizabeth was successful and that the Queen provided firm direction. According to Neale Parliament was another aspect that had influence over decision making in Elizabeth government He argues that the power of the House of Commons increased throughout Elizabeth’s reign.
The number of conflicts Elizabeth had with individual MPs and the problems which the Stuarts experienced with Parliament are evidence for this. These developments were brought by the “Puritan Choir “who deliberately planned confrontations to force the issue of parliamentary privilege versus the royal prerogative. It is therefore necessary to investigate not only to what extent Cecil was involved in the decision making process but also the influence of the Parliament on Elizabeth and ultimately the decisions that were taken through this time of how many were Elizabeth’s own ideas.