England and the New World: Unifying the English Nation/England and IrelandIn the sixteenth century, England was a second-rate power in Europe weakened by internal divisions,especially those between Catholics and Protestants once King Henry VIII launched the ProtestantReformation in England by severing the nation from the Catholic Church and establishing the Church ofEngland, or Anglican Church, with himself at its head. Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled from 1558 to 1603,finally secured the power of the Anglican Church and successfully defended England from its Catholicenemies on the continent, notably the Spanish, whose attempt in 1588 to invade by a massive armada wasrepulsed.Well into the 1700s, the English also attempted to subdue Ireland and its Catholic population, in part throughmilitary conquest and colonization. The English expelled Irish Catholics from land to make room forProtestant settlements, called “plantations.” The cultural practices and ideas that defined England’scolonization of Ireland shaped its conquest of North America.England and North America/Spreading ProtestantismOnly under Queen Elizabeth’s reign did the English look to North America, although at first they were moreinterested in raiding Spanish cities and treasure fleets than colonization. Their first two colonies inNewfoundland and what became North Carolina were small efforts that quickly failed.Like the Spanish, however, national glory, profit, and religious mission defined English interest in the NewWorld. The Reformation and Protestant England’s increasing rivalry with and enmity toward the CatholicSpanish empire helped the English see their presence in North America as a way to liberate the New Worldand its Indians from what many in England believed was a uniquely evil and tyrannical Spanish Catholicempire. The English saw their empire as a very different empire of freedom.England and the New World: Problems: The Social Crisis/Masterless MenOther advocates of colonization argued that North America would absorb England’s “surplus” population ina period of economic crisis and population growth. Colonization would drain away the urban poor andpeasants who had been evicted from their own lands and the commons by the “enclosures” of largelandlords, and who seemed to English elites to threaten social order and stability. Under Henry VIII andQueen Elizabeth I, the unemployed could be whipped, branded, hanged, or even forced to labor. Voluntaryor involuntary emigration to the New World seemed an alternative that would simultaneously benefit thepoor and the English nation.In turn, images of America such as that which appeared in Thomas More’sUtopiapromoted the New Worldas a place of wealth and opportunity where men could escape the hierarchies and inequalities of Europe,gain economic independence by owning land, and rule themselves. These images appealed to ordinaryEnglishmen and encouraged them to risk migration to America.