Religion in Tudor England no.1

A brief outline of the changes in religion in henry VIII's reign.

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Pre-Reformation Church

Criticised for many of the same abuses as in the rest of Europe

  • Pluralism
  • Absenteeism
  • Nepotism
  • Simony

The Church was extremely rich, which was resented

  • owned 1/3 landin England
  • owned 1/5 wealthof England
  • fees for marriage, funerals
  • taxes and tithes

Corruption in the church courts- i.e Hunne case

Overall- Anti-Clericalism

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Pre-Reformation Church

Fish felt that the church was beyond reform- he wrote the pamphlet 'Supplication for the Beggars.'

Existence of heretical groups- such as Lollards and Lutherans. Both supported by important figures.


  • Only ever few extreme cases of hatred towards the church
  • Looking at parish records, many clergy carried out their duties well
  • Clerical wealth was often used for secular purposes
  • Tithes were a fact of life
  • Many wills were written with bequests to local chuch/monastery
  • Lutherans were not widely spread

Overall- therefore, other reasons for the reformation

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Reformation Parliament

  • 1524 Catherine and Henry no longer sleeping together.
  • 1525 Henry's illegitimate son made Duke of Richmond/ Sack of Rome-Charles now controls Pope.
  • 1527 Henry wants Anne to be his mistress, she refuses/ Negotiatons begin for annulment.
  • 1528 Campeggio arrived in England- he had been ordered to stall proceedings.
  • 1529 case begins/ Catherine makes her single appearance/July- case is recalled to Rome/Wolsey is accused of praeminure and is replaced by Thomas More/November- reformation parliament assembled.
  • 1530 Anne's brother leads a mission to Rome to gain support which failed/ September- Foxe and Cramner legally justify the annullment in their book 'collectanae satis Coiosa.'
  • 1531 Convocation of Canterbury recognise Henry as supreme head
  • 1532 Submission of the Clergy/Bill in restraint of annates/ December- Anne pregnant
  • 1533 Secret marriage/Anne crowned queen in May/ act in restraint of appeals(to Rome)/ September- Elizabeth born.
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Reformation Parliament

  • 1534acts from earlier years are repeated and strengthened/ Mary is cut from succession/November- Act of Supremacy/ Treason Act/ Act of first fruits and tenths
  • 1535 fisher and More executed for refusing Henry's supremacy
  • 1536 act against papal authority

Henry had now successfully created a new Church of England, the new acts would take away all power from the pope.

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Dissolution of the Monasteries

Before the Reformation

  • Over 800 abbeys in england
  • largest land owners
  • centres of art and learning

Reasons for the Dissolution

  • Financial motives: Henry was concerned about a Catholic crusade, so he needed to fortify his defenses. also, it would prevent the need to tax and risk rebellion.
  • Removal of opponents to break with Rome
  • removal of abuses that existed within the monasteries
  • The monasteries threatened Henry's supremacy- they had allegiance to Rome
  • Pacified nobles who were unhappy with religious change
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Dissolution of the Monasteries

The Dissolution of the Monasteries:

  • 1535 Cromwell sent 6 'visitors' who carries out a survey of religious houses in England they produces masses of evidence of corruption(mostly fabricated)
  • 1536 First Act of Dissolution- all houses worth under £200/year dissolved- the act was presented as a reforming measure
  • 1537 A number of 'voulntary' surrenders of larger monastic houses
  • 1538 Within 16 months 202 houses had surrendered
  • 1539 second act of Dissolution-this legitimised the surrenders that had already occured
  • 1540 Surrender of Waltham Abbey

In total, 563 houses dissolved, 8000 monks pensioned off and the crown income doubled.

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Dissolution of the monasteries


  • Cultural vandalism- huge loss of art, architecture, stained glass, books, learning, however Henry did invest in colleges in Oxford and Cambridge
  • Monks and Friars out of work
  • Nuns couldn't get work, or marry
  • No poor relief
  • Social change-
    • powers of patronage no longer with clergy
    • Ownership moved down the social ladder as land prices fell
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Last years of Henry

10 articles

  • 1536
  • Echarist-no complete physical change(Lutheran)
  • No continued existance of bread and wine mentioned(Catholic)
  • Purgatory ad prayer for dead commended
  • Cromwell instructed bishops to refrain from religios extremeism

Bishops' book

  • 'Institution of Christian man'
  • criticised by Henry
  • all 7 sacraments included, reinstated 4 of lesser status(catholic, slightly Lutheran)
  • Sola Fide rejected(catholic)
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Last years of Henry

Royal Injunctions

  • 1536 1st RIs
  • Clearly stated clergy's duty to:
    • preach royal supremacy
    • not encourage worship of saints
    • teach lord's prayer and commandments in English
    • dissuade people from pilgrimages
    • Overall Protestant
  • 1538 RIs
    • English bibles
    • preists to stop worship of images and relics

Great Bible

  • All could gain word of God 1537
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Last years of Henry

  • 1539 6 Articles- very Catholic nature
  • 1541 Henry demanded shrines be dismantled, English liturgy and litany, and there is evidence he was planning to dismantle chantries.(protestant)
  • 1543 'Act for the Advancement of True Religion'(catholic)

In his last years religion veered from Protestantism to Catholicism regularly. When he died the religion seemed to be becoming more protestant, but of course, he could have changed his mind again if he had not have died.

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