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The close connection between Elizabeth’s peerage creations and her parliaments has gone largely unnoticed. It is widely supposed, for instance, that Elizabeth’s chief minister, Sir William Cecil, was created Lord Burghley in 1571 solely because of his years of loyal service and hard work. In fact, the timing suggests that Cecil owed his ennoblement to important parliamentary considerations just as much as to his exemplary service. This is hardly surprising, for as I shall demonstrate, a majority of the additions to the lay peerage under Elizabeth were made in order to bolster the lay contingent in the House of Lords. During this paper I will also discuss why Elizabeth did not create more lay peers, despite Burghley’s advice, and the queen’s attitude to the size of the nobility more generally. Consideration will also be given to the relationship between Parliament and the appointment of new bishops, a theme seldom explored by ecclesiastical historians.

Dr Andrew Thrush
is the editor of the History of Parliament’s Elizabethan House of Lords Section. He was previously the editor of The History of Parliament: the House of Lords 1604-29 (CUP, 2021) and The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-29 (CUP, 2010), and co-edited (with Richard Cust) Conrad Russell’s posthumously published King James VI and I and his English Parliaments (OUP, 2011).

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