Few Irish parliaments were more important than that of 1560. It recognised Elizabeth Tudor’s title to the crown of Ireland and authorised the reform of the Irish church. Yet the sparse documentary record of its proceedings has lent itself to wildly differing interpretations. Controversy has centred upon the manner in which the ecclesiastical legislation reached the statute books, and the disposition of the bishops towards it. Even today, long after the interdenominational debate has ended, there is no consensus among historians on this very difficult subject.
In the most comprehensive treatment to date of the 1560 parliament Robert Dudley Edwards concluded that fraud and deception were employed to force the queen’s ecclesiastical legislation through a recalcitrant House of Commons. However, the opposition of the bishops in the upper house was insurmountable and the parliament was quickly prorogued without its legislative programme being sanctioned.