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An Overview of the Reformation By Bruce Robinson Last updated 2011-02-17. The Reformation was a culmination of events and circumstances, both here and abroad, which led to a seismic shift in the religious framework of this country. So what exactly happened, and what lasting impact did the Reformation have? It's one of those things everybody's heard of but nobody really quite understands. The culmination of centuries of Catholic corruption, or a bit of a fluke? The consequence of a European power vacuum, or grand theological debate? A reasonable quest for a son and heir, or simply a result of Henry VIII's lustful nature? Well, it is down to all of those, really. If it were as simple as any one of these options, there would be little mystery. They were all necessary for the English Reformation, but not one by itself was sufficient to bring about the chain of events that would eventually alter England and Englishness forever. So much in history is a bastard child of both long-standing, simmering emotion and the opportunistic seizing of a la salle university parking pass. By its nature unexpected, it is also unpredictable, and shaped as much by environment and chance as by its progenitors. The Reformation was no different. The story really begins over a hundred years earlier, when the Papacy began to reap the effects of centuries of compromise. The story really begins over a hundred years earlier, when the Papacy began to reap the effects of centuries of compromise. The Great Schism saw two, even three individuals claiming to be the Pope, and the Council of Constance in the early fifteenth century saw a power struggle between Bishops and Pope. Combined, they hindered Papal government and harmed the reputation of the Church in the eyes of the laity. They led early sixteenth century popes to resist reform and bolster their own position by using their spiritual power, along with war and diplomacy, to become territorial princes in Italy, building their bank accounts on the way. In England, the same period saw John Wyclif, an Oxford academic, anticipate the arguments of Martin Luther over a century later, and also produce the first English Bible. Piers Plowman, a popular poetic satire, attacked abuses in the entire church, from Pope to priest. But nothing happened. Wyclif's supporters, the Lollards, were driven underground after their failed rebellion of 1414, and remained a persecuted minority for another hundred years. The church carried on unabashed and proud, selling offices and indulgences, a political plaything for princes and a useful source of income for second sons and men on the make. And forget celibacy. So European anticlericalism was nothing new; it had been seething for centuries. What was new this time round was a by-product of the infant capitalism: wealth, urbanisation and education. Whilst still a minority, the literate laity were no longer confined to those in on the game, and were better educated than many priests who claimed to be the path to salvation (while taking their money in taxes). It rankled somewhat. Criticism was stepped up, at home and abroad, by the Humanists. Led by Colet, More and Erasmus, they went back to basics, studying the Scriptures as they would any classical text. Yet they remained Catholics, attacking corruption but keen to reform from within, stressing toleration and man's inherent dignity. It was a depressed German cleric, Martin Luther, who lit the fuse for the first, European, Reformation. Provided no comfort by Catholic ritual and horrified by abuses in Italy, he concluded that salvation was a personal matter between God and man: traditional church ceremonial was irrelevant at best and at its worst - the sale of indulgences, for example - fraudulent. Nailing his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, he prompted massive theological debate and was condemned as a heretic and an outlaw. Luther's ideas were white hot and they spread fast. They soon reached England. It is one of history's great ironies that the man who publicly refuted him was none other than Henry VIII, rewarded with the title of Fidei Defensor - Defender of the Faith - in 1521. But it was too late. Luther's ideas were white hot and they spread fast. They soon reached England and were discussed by academics here, most notably the White Horse Group who were named after a Cambridge pub where scholars would meet, drank and put the world to rights. Some things don't change. So England by the mid 1520s was hearing grumbles of lay dissatisfaction, grumbles that remained. Catholicism addressed many important needs and enjoyed general popular support. Even though the grumblers could point to Europe as a lead, the same situation existed in France, yet that remained Catholic. What France didn't have was a Defender of the Faith; it didn't have a Henry. King since 1509, England's Renaissance Man lacked but one thing in his life - a son. Catherine of Aragon had produced six children but only a daughter, Mary, survived. Henry had become convinced that God was punishing him for marrying the wife of his dead elder brother, Arthur. He had also become infatuated with Anne Boleyn, daughter of a well-connected London merchant whose family he knew well: her sister had been a mistress. No beauty but no fool, Anne insisted that she be Queen or nothing. Henry was keen. He was also married. It was his search for a solution that triggered the break from Rome. In 1527 he asked Pope Clement VII for a divorce on Scriptural grounds. But unfortunately for both Clement and Henry, Rome was surrounded by the Emperor Charles V of Spain, Catherine's nephew. Unsurprisingly, Charles was unsympathetic to Henry's requests, which meant the Pope had to be as well. Henry had to find another way. No beauty but no fool, Anne insisted that she be Queen or nothing. Henry was keen. He was also married. It was Thomas Cranmer, one of the White Horse Group, who in 1530 suggested a legal approach. The Collectanea argued that Kings of England enjoyed Imperial Power similar to that of the first Christian Roman Emperors. This meant that the Pope's jurisdiction was illegal: if Henry wanted a divorce, he could have it, as long as the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed. But William Warham didn't. Henry applied some pressure, charging the clergy with Praemunire, the unlawful exercise of spiritual jurisdiction. In 1532 they had capitulated, and the next year a new Act asserted England's judicial independence. By now, matters were pressing: Anne was pregnant. Henry had to marry for the child to be legitimate. Luckily, Warham had just died. Henry replaced him with Cranmer and the divorce came through within months. Ely Cathedral © The Act of Supremacy (1534) confirmed the break from Rome, declaring Henry to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England. But the Reformation was far from over. The Protestant Anne Boleyn had the motivation, the power and the intelligence to push reform as far as it would go. She also had the means: Cranmer and Cromwell. In the Orwellian atmosphere of the Tudor state, Cranmer was the thought, Cromwell the police. Thomas Cromwell combined managerial genius with Machiavellian ruthlessness. The years to 1540 saw his hitsquads travel the country, assessing the church's wealth. Once he knew how much to take, he took. The Dissolution of the Monasteries lasted four years to 1540. Two thirds of all the land was sold to the laity and the money squandered in vanity wars against France. With the destruction Buy essay online cheap An Analysis of Doves and Aeries New Campaigns priceless ecclesiastical treasures it was possibly the greatest act of vandalism in English history but also an act of political genius, creating a vested interest in the Reformation: those now owning monastic lands were unlikely to embrace a return drive letter assignment xp notary Catholicism. With the destruction of priceless ecclesiastical treasures it was possibly the greatest act of vandalism in English history. But for all the work carried out in his name, Henry was never a Protestant. Further doctrinal reform was halted by the Act of Six Articles in 1539 and following Cromwell's sudden fall the next year the court hung between religious conservatives and radical reformers with the Reformation stuck in the mud. But on the quiet, Henry's young son, born to Jane Seymour (wife number three), was being educated by Protestants. Edward was only ten when he became king in 1547 but his two regents accelerated the pace of Protestant reform considerably. The 1539 Act was repealed, priests were permitted to marry - creating another vested interest - and more land was confiscated. Altars and shrines were all removed from churches and the stained glass was smashed. Becoming Queen in 1553 Mary, Edward's devoutly Catholic sister, was always going to have a tough time undoing twenty years' work. Although Protestantism remained patchy and its followers a minority, this minority was entrenched and substantial, at least in London and the South East. Mary did her best, reinstating Catholic doctrines and rites, and replacing altars and images, but she handicapped herself by martyring almost 300 ordinary men and women, as well as bigger names like Cranmer. The burnings were unpopular and immensely counter-productive, and Buy essay online cheap An Analysis of Doves and Aeries New Campaigns compounded her errors by marrying Philip South African womens movement of Spain, son of Charles V who had so successfully thwarted Henry in 1527. Burning bodies, Spanish courtiers and Philip's awful English all fuelled further Protestant propaganda and confirmed fears of the Catholic menace sjtu university world ranking had been threatened since 1534. Fighting France for Philip, Mary's loss of Calais in 1558 - England's last territory in France - helped turn distrust into hatred and xenophobia. Tension mounted, Thomas Wyatt was rebelling in Kent, and religious civil war seemed not too far away. . Mary, Edward's devoutly Catholic sister, was always going to have a tough time undoing twenty years' work. However, chance rolled the dice once more. After two phantom pregnancies Mary died childless in November 1558: the only heir was Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn's daughter. A moderate Protestant, she inherited a nervous kingdom where Catholicism dominated everywhere but the major cities, the South East and East Anglia. She had to inject some stability. The religious settlement of 1559 was intended to be inclusive. It restored Royal Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity but, in a conciliatory gesture, reintroduced clerical vestments and paul v braun university of illinois more Catholic Eucharist. Altars were allowed, and clergy had to get permission to marry. Norwich Cathedral © In reality, however, the settlement was very Protestant: it reissued Cranmer's Prayer Book of 1552 and its 39 Articles were closely modelled on his work in 1553. All but one of Mary's Bishops were removed from office after refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, replaced by men hand-picked by Elizabeth's chief coursework college year in athens, Robert Cecil. Most were far more radical than their Queen, as were the clergy who filled the parishes vacated by resigning Catholic priests. While altars wong yihan ranking university theoretically allowed, in practice they were removed by church commissions that toured the country to check compliance. The church was further bolstered in 1563 South African womens movement another Act of Uniformity made refusal to take the oath, or the defence of papal authority, a treasonable offence. But this time the foreign threat was real: a revolt in 1569, the papal invasion of Ireland, Elizabeth's excommunication and the arrival of priests from France all underlined the insecurity of the Anglican Church. The severity of the Treason Laws increased alongside anti-Catholic sentiment, effectively killing it as any real force by driving it underground for the rest of her reign. After the stop-start policies of Edward and Mary, it had 45 years of Elizabethan rule to bed down. And it was the length of her reign that secured Anglicanism and established it as Protestant. After the stop-start policies of Edward and Mary, it had 45 years of Elizabethan rule to bed down. Had she succumbed to smallpox in 1562, a religious civil war might easily have followed. But luck struck again, and by her death in 1603 the country was united as had not been possible in the previous century, both by a common religion and a common enemy. Patriotism and Protestantism were two halves of the same coin, kingston university hospital ukiah coin baring Henry's title, 'Fidei Defensor'. They still do. So why is the Reformation important? True, it happened coursework college year in athens long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but it established in Pollution essays you can buy online minds the image of an island nation, separate and supreme, still resonant today. English policy became increasingly repressive in Ireland, importing Protestant landowners to oppress the locals who resisted conversion. That legacy still lingers, and the abiding sense of anti-Catholicism remained potent enough to be a cause of the Civil War a century later. The Religion of Protestants: the Church in English Society, 1559-1625 by Patrick Collinson (1982) The English Reformation (2nd edition) by A.G. Dickens (1989) The Stripping of the Altars - Traditional Religion in England, c.1400-c.1580 by Eamon Duffy (1992) Reform and Reformation by Geoffrey Elton (1977) Tudor England by John Guy (1988) English Reformations - Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors by Christopher Haigh (1993) The Impact of the English Reformation 1500-1640 ed. Peter Marshall (1997) Bruce Robinson is a professional journalist who graduated with a first class degree in History from Cambridge University, specialising in English Social, Political and Economic History from 1300 to 1600.