The Elizabethan older generations had learned their lesson, and they did their best to teach it to their children. It was in the 1550's and '60's that Queen Elizabeth and William Cecil and their contemporaries came to dominate and direct English society. Certainly in the course of the latter decade, they began the complex process of educating the youth of the nation in the evils of unrestrained ambition.
This broad educational effort brought together a loose natural alliance of governing officials, teachers, preachers, translators, and writers on moral philosophy. Many of these molders of the public mind had lived in the upper ranks of Tudor society during the nerve-shattering years of Edward and Mary; many others had been close enough to the top to feel the wind of the ax. For in the days of crusading "commonwealth men," of the radical Edwardian Reformation and the violent Marian counter-reform, scholars and preachers had sweated out every change of government almost as nervously as had the Tudor governors themselves. If their lives did not hang in the balance, their livings did; budding careers had been blighted by the inordinate ambition of a patron, or the successful ambition of a patron's rival. These generations of Elizabethan rulers and Elizabethan intellectuals had shared a harrowing experience: it is not surprising, then, that the policy of the former and the propaganda of the latter agreed perfectly in condemning overweening ambition.
The basic tools of indoctrination available in sixteenthcentury England were the school, the university, the pulpit, and the printing press. All these media of mass communication were largely controlled by the relatively small ruling and educated classes. Teachers and preachers were required by law to have royal or ecclesiastical licenses, and the government, prescribed certain textbooks and official homilies for their use. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge were run according to royal statutes and operated under the general supervision of high government officials or great nobles. Government censorship of books and pamphlets increased as the reign wore on, and the phrases "seen and al