Discuss religious events in England. From Henry VI


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II – Elizabeth IEven though in the early reformation Period England became Protestants, the

Anglican Church kept many catholic practices in order not to alienate its

people. However, the first step away from catholic came in the reign of

Henry VIII not for religious reason but for political reasons.

In 1509, Henry married had married Catherine of Aragon, but the union had

produced no male heir to the throne, and only one surviving child, a

daughter, Mary. He wanted a son to succeed him. In this period, people

thought it was unnatural for women to rule over men. At best a woman ruler

meant a contested reign, at worst turmoil and revolution. Henry even came

to believe his union with Catherine, who had many miscarriages and still

births, had been cursed by god, because Catherine had first been his

brother’s wife, Arthur. Henry’s father, Henry VII, had betrothed Catherine

to Henry after his brother prematurely death.

By 1527, Henry fell deeply in love with Anne Boleyn and he got so

determined to put Catherine aside and take Anne as his wife. For this to be

possible, Henry had to get dispensation from the pope, who refused.

The reformation Parliament

Unable to get the popes approval Henry take things in his own hands. In

1529, parliament convened for what would be a seven-year session that

earned it the title the ‘reformation parliament.’ During this period a

series of legislation that harassed, and finally place royal rein on, the

clergy. In January 1531, the convocation publicly recognised Henry as Head

of the Church on England. In 1532, parliament published grievances against

the church, ranging from alleged indifference to the need of the laity to

an excessive number of religious holidays. In the same year parliament

passed the submission of the clergy, which effectively placed canon law

under royal control and thereby the clergy under royal jurisdiction.

In January 1533, Henry wed the pregnant Ann and in next month parliament

made the king highest court of appeal for all English subjects. Then in

March of that same year, Cranmer became archbishop of Canterberry and led

the convocation in invalidating the king’s marriage with Catherine. In the

following year, parliament ended all payments by the English clergy and

laity to Rome and gave Henry sole jurisdiction over high ecclesiastical

appointment. The Act of Succession in the same year also gave Ann’s

children legitimate claim to the throne and the act of supremacy declared

Henry the “only supreme head in earth of the church of England.” After

failing to recognized the act of succession and the act of supremacy, Henry

had Thomas Moore and John Fisher, bishop of Rochester executed.

Wives of Henry

Henry’s domestic life lacks the consistency of his political life. In 1536,

Anne was executed for alleged treason and adultery, and her daughter,

Elizabeth illegitimate. Henry had four further marriages. His third wife

Jane Seymour died shortly after giving birth to his son Edward VI.

Catherine Parr, Henry’s fifth wife, a patron of humanists and reform.

The king’s Religious Conservatism

Henry’s boldness in politics and his domestic affairs did not extend to

religion. True, because of Henry’s actions, the pope had ceased to be head

of the English church and English bibles were placed in English churches,

but despite the break with Rome, Henry remained decidedly conservative in

his religious beliefs. With the Ten Article , he made only mild concessions

to protestant tenets, otherwise maintaining catholic doctrine in the

country filled with protestant sentiments. Angered at Protestants Henry

lashes out in his sixth article. These reaffirmed transubstantiation,

denied the Eucharistic cup to the laity, declare celibate vow inviolable,

provided for private masses, and ordered the continuation of oral


Edward VI

When Henry died, his son and successor, Edward VI was only ten years old.

Edward reigned under the successive regencies of Edward Seymour, who became

the duke of Somerset. During this time, England fully enacted the

protestant reformation. The new king and Somerset correspond directly with

John Calvin. Henry’s six articles and laws against heresy were repealed,

and clerical marriage and communion with cup were sanctioned. In 1549, the

act of uniformity imposed Thomas Crammer’s Book of Common Prayer on all

English churches. A forty-two article written by Thomas Cranmer was also

adopted, setting forth a moderate protestant doctrine. It taught

justification by faith and Holy Scripture. At this time, England had become

refuge for several Protestants.

All these changes were short lived as Mary I ascended the throne. She

proceeded to restore Catholic doctrine and practice with a single mind-

mindedness. Anyone who

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