Strangers Settled Here Amongst Us: Policies, Perceptions, and the Presence of Aliens in Elizabethan England

By Laura Hunt Yungblut | Go to book overview

1

‘STRANGERS SETTLED HERE’

The presence of aliens in England was not a phenomenon new in the time of Elizabeth Tudor. The actual numbers of strangers in the realm had been consistently rather low in the centuries before her reign, but even a small presence created issues with which English governments had to deal. Elizabeth I’s late medieval predecessors had, with few exceptions, dealt with issues concerning aliens largely on an expediency basis. The expedient that drove policy was usually the need to gain support for the Crown, whether it be political backing for an insecure or unpopular government, or the omnipresent need for financial supplements. Crown policy, therefore, most often took the form of enacting restrictive measures against aliens in order to gain immediate political or economic support. A factor complicating the application of even a veneer of systematic policy was that of popular sentiment. At least according to extant sources, the English, especially Londoners, actively disliked foreigners. 1 This apparent xenophobia often had its origins in economic jealousy, but whatever its basis, the perception of strangers as different and of their presence as deleterious echoed through centuries of English history. The fairly consistent presence of xenophobic sentiment expedited the Crown’s use of restrictive policy against aliens as a bribe.

There is no question but that aliens had played a role in English history for centuries before the reign of Elizabeth I. The nature and the scope of that role, as well as the native context in which it operated, frequently determined the respondent actions of the Crown regarding the aliens. Prevailing conditions more often than not dictated the central government’s decisions. Factors such as immediate economic considerations, and domestic and inter national political circumstances, usually shaped and directed

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Strangers Settled Here Amongst Us: Policies, Perceptions, and the Presence of Aliens in Elizabethan England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vi
  • Maps vii
  • Preface viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - ‘strangers Settled Here’ 9
  • 2 - Dichotomies in English Attitudes Toward the Aliens 36
  • 3 - The Presence of Aliens and Government Policy in the Reign of Elizabeth I 61
  • 4 - Aliens, Policy, and the Elizabethan Economy 95
  • Conclusion 114
  • Appendix A—colchester Contribution Book to the Poor (1582-92) 118
  • Appendix B—norwich Book of Orders for Dutch and Walloon Strangers, 1564-1643 [nro Mf/Ro 31/1] 122
  • Notes 128
  • Bibliography 160
  • Index 173
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