Religion 1547-88

the religious changes during Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I's reign 

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Under Somerset, what reforming measures took place? 

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  • the privy council decided to review the state of the church and introduce some moderate Protestant reforms
  • royal commissioners were sent to visit all the bishops, they were instructed to compile a report by the autumn of 1547 on the state of the clergy and the doctrines and practices to be found in every diocese.
  • every parish was ordered to obtain a copy of Cranmer's Book of Homilies and Paraphrases by Erasmus.
  • An injunction was issued to the bishops ordering them to instruct their clergy to conduct services in english and to preach a sermon every sunday.
  • The bishops were to create libraries of protestant literature and provide an english bible for each parish 
  • bishops were told to remove all superstitious statues and images from their churches. 
  • the henrician treason, heresy and censorship laws were not enforced.
  • the chantries act- reason gives was that the chantries were centers of superstition.
  • convocation agreed to reintroduce cleircal marriage 
  • Act of Uniformity ordered the clergy to use a number of protestant policies 
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What were the problems over reform under Somerset?

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  • Parliament and Convocation were in favour of reform. 
  • yet the privy council was still reluctant to make any decisive move towards religious reform - weak regime 
  • the Chantries Act and the Treason Act did little to resolve the doctrinal uncertainties.
  • 1548 Privy council issued a series of proclamations to try to calm the situation, however these indicated no clear policy so it only added to the confusion.
  • JPs and churchwardens were ordered to enforce the existing doctrines of the church of england, on the other hand instructions were issued to speed up the removal of catholic images - such contradiction infuriated both conservatives and reformers,
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Describe Northumberland's struggle over doctrine 

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  • After the arrest of Somerset it seemed that the conservative faction supported by Northumberland might seize power - conservatives planned to make princess Mary regent for the young edward.
  • Northumberland having used the conservatives to strengthen his position on the privy council, then switched his allegiance to the more radical protestant reformers.
  • the political struggle within the privy council continues when Parliament met- attempts by the conservative faction to repeal the 1549 Act of Uniformity and strengthen the power of the bishops were defeated.
  • In December Parliament approved measures to speed up the removal of popish images and old service books from the churches and set up a commission to revise the procedures for the ordination of priests
  • Feb 1550 Northumberland was firmly in control of the privy council and the conservatives were driven out of office
  • Northumberland moved against the more conservative of the bishops: Gardiner & Bonner
  • During the next year active reformers were appointed as bishops 
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What were the measures taken to make the church of England fully Protestant under Northumberland? 

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  • Cranmer was in the process of revising his prayer Book
  • further action was taken against the remaining conservative bishops 
  • In oct reformers were appointed at Worcester and Chichester- these moves ensured that there would be a majority among the Bishops to support the programme of religious changes that was being prepared. 
  • doctrinal changes- New treason Act was passed, making it an offense to question the Royal Supremacy or any of the articles of faith if the English church. At the same time number of holy days was recognised at 25. Second Act of Uniformity was passed in March, it became an offense for both clergy and laity not to attend COE services offenders were to be fined and imprisoned. Cranmer's new Book of Common Prayer became the official basis for church services and had to be used by both clergy and laity - all traces of catholicism & Mass had been removed. 
  • attack on the wealth of the church- 1552 a survey of the temporal wealth of the bishops and clergy with parishes worth more than £350 a year was undertaken. The resultant report estimated that these lands had a capital value of £1,087,000 & steps were taken to transfer some of this property to the crown. Commisioners had been sent out to draw up inventories and to begin the removal of all the gold and silver plate still held by parish churches.
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Give an assessment of the Edwardian Church under Northumberland 

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  • Death of Edward VI & fall of Northumberland brought this part of the reformation to an end
  • the 42 articles that had been drawn up to list the doctrines of the new Protestant COE never became law
  • it is generally agreed that by 1553 the Edwardian Reformation had resulted in a COE that was thoroughly Protestant.
  • however, it is clear that although the doctrines of the church of England had been revolutionised, the administrative structure of the church has remained unchanged. 
  • it is considered that Protestantism if not widely opposed, received only lukewarm acceptance. 
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What was the religious situation in 1553?

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  • Mary was determined to restore England to the authority of Rome as quickly as possible- what she failed to realise was that her initial popularity sprang from the dislike of Northumberland and respect for the legitimate succession
  • her main supporters urged caution - pope Julius II and Charles V warned her not to risk her throne by acting too rashly 
  • Cardinal Reginald Pole, Papal legate stayed in the Netherlands for a year
  • even Gardiner was unenthusiastic about returning to papal authority
  • A return to papal authority would mean an end to Royal supremacy which was supported by the ruling elites. 
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How did mary go about with the restoration of Anglo-Catholicism?

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  • Parliament 

Cranmer, Hooper & Ridley along with other leading Protestant bishops were arrested, this removed the major source of opposition. The first statue of Repeal swept away all the religious legislation approved by Parliament during the reign of Edward VI & the doctrine of the church of England was restored to what it had been under the 6 Articles. 

  • Marriage to Philip II

the opposition to Mary's proposed marriage to Philip II meant that further religious legislation was postponed 

  • The Protestant clergy 

Bishops of Gloucester, Hereford, Lincoln, Rochester & the Archbishop of York were stripped of their offices & were replaced by committed catholics.  In 1554 bishops were instructed to enforce all the religious legislation of the last year of Henry VIII reign. These injunctions demanded that all married clergy should give upo their wives & families or lose their livings 

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Describe England's  return to the Church of Rome

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  • Pole's return to England in November marked the next decisive stage in the restoration of Roman Catholicism 
  • Second Act of Repeal ended the royal supremacy and returned England to papal authority. It did protect the property rights of all those who had bought church land since 1536 
  • at the same time parliament approved the resoration of the heresy laws - this was the beginning of the religious persecutions. 
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What were the attempts to consolidate the Marian Church?

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  • Restoring Stability - Pole's priority appears to have been to restore stability after 20 years or religious turmoil. the reduction in church revenues meant that there were insufficient resources available to reorganise the marian church effectively.
  • reconciliation with Rome- Pole's attempts to reorganise and reconcile the COE to Rome were not helped by the death of Pope Julius III. The new pop disliked Pole and hate the spanish Habsburgs. As a result Pole was stripped from his title and was ordered to return to Rome. Pole refused, but this hindered his work because he could not appoint bishops. Such quarrels did little to convince anyone of the wisdom of returning to the authority of Rome 
  • the 12 DecreesWestmister synod approved the passing of the 12 Decrees that included the establishment of seminaries in every diocese for the training of priests but shortage of money limited the programme. This mean the majority of the parish clergy remained too uneducated for the new laws to have impact. Mary's death came too soon for any catholic reform to have had any lasting effect.
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Describe the religious situation in 1558-9

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  • by 1558 the majority of Elizabeth's subjects were undecided about religion
  • among the elites there was strong support for the royal supremacy and there were willing to follow the religion of the legitimate monarch.
  • The mass population do not appear to have had strongly held convictions and in most cases they were prepared to follow the lead of their social superior
  • Neither religion seems to have had a strong hold in England- there were groups of deeply religious people who were committed to either once side or the other; Puritans and Recusant - these religious groups threatened the stability of the kingdom
  • with unity of the church in mind Elizabeth opted for the settlement 
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Describe Elizabeths Religious Settlement

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  • It intended to clarify, regulate and stabilise religion
  • the objective was to reach a compromise acceptable to both catholics and protestants
  • Act of Supremacy- abolishing papal authority, Elizabeth however chose to use the title supreme governor 
  • she preferred the restoration of the less controversial first book of common prayer, however due to opposition the Act of uniformity restored the second book of common prayer 
  • Enough of the old church remained, but on the other hand the the innovations in religion were sufficient to satisfy protestants.
  • The injunctions issued were largely protestant in character but some catholic practices were retained, and we see a compromise. 
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Was the Settlement a success or failure?

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  • had it been designed to avoid religions conflict then it must me hailed a success- it lasted for almost 10 years, the 39 articles avoided a direct attack on catholic belief but article 17 sanctioned the protestant belief in predestination 
  • Religious terms-  it had mixed success. It largely succeeded in establishing a broadly based national church which excluded as few people as possible.  It made conformity as easy as possible without provoking opposition or disagreement. In theological terms the 39 articles were widely accepted and remained at the doctrinal heart of the church. On the other had in failed not only to attract the Puritans but also to harness their evangelical enthusiasm. Devout catholics were likewise marginalised with the consequence of encouraging opposition and non-conformity.
  • political terms- considered a success. Elizabeth had succeeded in establishing a state church under the domination of the crown- religious opposition to the settlement would be regarded as political opposition to the state.
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