Religion and Reform


Religion and Reform

The Renaissance 
Under Henry VIII Renaissance ideas began to flourish among elite groups in English society. 

Humanism and Education
Most significant humanist voice in education was John Colet, refounded St Paul's School in London. 

By the end of Henry's reign, humanist influences had gained a lasting hold on universities in England.

The Renaissance and English Culture 
Before the reign of Henry VIII there were few signs that the Renaissance was influencing English ideas. 

The Renaissance beginning to have an influence on visual culture. 

1 of 4

The condition of the Church at the start of Henry'

Causes of dissatisfaction with the Church

  • Uneducated priests- Some parish priets uneducated and unable to deliver the traditional services to their lay flock. 
  • Clerical abuses- Some bishops accussed of serious breaches of church discipline. 
     Purchase clerical office from cleric or prince
    Pluralism- To hold more than one clerical office at the same time, for material benefit
    Non-residence- Bishops who did not reside in their diocese but still collected taxes
    Nepotism- Donating a clerical post to a member of one's family
    Sexual misconduct- Ignoring the clerical vow of celibacy 
  • Monks and Nuns- 800 religious houses in England. Some played part in local education and caring for the poor
  • Benefit of the Clergy- Allowed members of the clergy to escape trail in secular courts after committing serious crimes
  • Anticlericalism- Criticism of the personnel of the Church both high and low 
  • Antipapalism- There was disputes about who had ultimate authority over the Church in England: the Pope or the King?
  • Heresy- Some groups questioned some of the Church's main teachings or doctrines
2 of 4

The dissolution of the monasteries 1535-40

In 1530 there was at least 825 religious houses (502 were houses of monks, 136 nunneries and 187 friaries). 

The dissolution of the smaller monasteries 1536
1536 Act passed for dissolution of all religious houses with a net income of less than £200 a year. 

Over 300 houses fell into this category but King exempted 67 houses that were seen as still carrying out spiritual duties effectively. Houses had to pay substantial sums for royal reprieve.

Displaced monks and nuns moved to greater houses. Heads of houses given a pension but monks and nuns given one-off payment.

The dissolution of the greater houses 1538-40

End of 1537 total dissolution was overall aim. Some houses implicated in Pilgrimage of Grace and heads of these houses now seen as traitors. 

Abbots gave up resistance and surrendered freely. 

Cromwell sent out commissioners to visit remaining houses and invited the head of these houses to freely hand over their property to the King. 

3 of 4

Religious practices

The Bishops' Book 1537

Further attempt to clarify the position of the English Church:

  • 'lost' four sacraments 'found' but not deemed as important
  • No need for good works 
  • Primary function of Priests to preach the word of Go

Cromwell's Injunctions 1536 and 1538

  • Number of Holy days was reduced.  
  • Bibles in English and Latin for people to read in Church 
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all British monarchy - Tudors and Stuarts resources »