Social impact of religious & Economic changes

  • Created by: cieran32
  • Created on: 08-11-18 21:02

impact of Religious Change under Edward VI

The Church of England was clearly more Protestant in doctrine by the end of Edward VI's reign than at the start. This does not mean that everyone supported Protestantism.

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changes in church appearance

  • Many ordinary sights in churches were changed.
    • Altars were replaced by communion tables.
    • The clergy was not to wear vestments (their liturgical robes).
    • All gold and silver ornaments were removed.
    • In 1547 iconoclasm (destroying images) swept across some churches. Somerset banned images from churches.
  • This was unsettling for the laity.
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Spread of Protestantism

  • Under Somerset, press censorship had been relaxed. This lead to a rise in pro-Protestant pamphlets spreading the Protestant message.
  • By 1553, the educated elites were more likely to be Protestant (but by no means all).
  • The reach of Protestantism was still patchy. Protestant strongholds included London and the south-east of England.
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incoherent reforms

  • During Edward VI's reign, religious reform was not consistent.
  • This shows that there was still internal division amongst key Protestant reformers.
  • This can be seen in the difference between the 1549 and 1552 Prayer Book (the latter being more aggressively Protestant).
  • Whilst there was considerable theological change, the ordinary layman mostly noticed the visible changes to the Church.
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Historical interpretation of Edward VI

  • After his death, Protestants championed Edward VI for his vigorous reforms and used his example to pressure monarchs, such as Elizabeth I.
  • But Edward VI's Reformation was driven by a small group of Church ministers (such as Cranmer).
  • This does not reflect how the ordinary population viewed the Reformation.
  • Historians such as Haigh argue that most people were reluctant recipients of Protestantism
  • Protestants championed Edward VI for his Vigorous reforms.
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unemployment, Poverty and Vagrancy

The 16th century saw significant population growth, leading to rising prices and falling wages. This contributed to problems such as unemployment, poverty, and vagrancy

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impact of population increase

  • As the population continued to grow, there was a boom in the cloth industry and the price of food rose.
  • Pressure on land led to increased rents but wages fell.
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  • Vagrancy means being homeless without a regular source of income.
  • Vagrancy increased in response to problems in the countryside, such as enclosure.
  • Vagrancy was seen as a danger. People believed it was a personal failing, not society's problem
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Somerset's response

  • Somerset passed the Vagrancy Act in 1547. This stated that:
    • Any able-bodied person out of work for more than three days was to be branded with a V and sold into slavery for two years.
  • It was very unpopular and never put into effect.
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Northumberland response

  • A new Poor Law was passed in 1552. Parishes had to raise money to look after the deserving poor (those too old, too young or too ill to work).
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Enclosure During Edward VI's Reign

Enclosure was incredibly unpopular amongst commoners. Edward VI's government recognised that enclosure was a problem that needed to be stopped.

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definition of enclosure

Enclosure is a process where landowners put small areas of land into one big farm. Using new farming techniques, this made the farms more productive and profitable

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The problem of enclosure

  • Sheep farming was becoming more popular, with some wealthy landowners having flocks well over 10,000 strong.
  • In response to higher food prices, some landowners (particularly in London, East Anglia, Kent, Surrey and Sussex) began to enclose land.
  • This damaged the livelihood of small-scale and subsistence farmers
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Somerset's commission

  • In 1548 Somerset ordered an investigation in the legality of enclosure in the Midlands and southern England.
  • It found that:
    • Enclosed lands had led to poverty and vagabondage (having no permanent home or source of income).
  • Enclosure was promoted by too much sheep farming.
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outcome of the commission

  • Somerset's commission led to:
    • High hopes among ordinary people that the government was on their side.
    • Fear among the landowning classes, especially the gentry, that their livelihoods were under attack.
  • In 1548, bills to restrict animal farming and maintain the amount of land under cultivation were designed to discourage enclosure. They failed to get through parliament.
  • New laws to tax sheep and cloth passed. But they were repealed a year later.
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Northumberland response

  • Northumberland enforced anti-enclosure legislation.
  • The unpopular enclosure commission was ended.
  • Acts were passed to protect arable farming.
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