History Unit 2: The Church in England

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The Church in England on the eve of Reformation

Unpopularity of the Church

  • church was seen as corrupt
  • nepotism, pluralism, absenteeism and simony were offences of the Church
  • much of the clergy didn't keep to their vows

Religious conservatives

  • Thomas Wolsey grew more and more in defence of the Church
    • tried to maintain unity of Christendom
    • worked to bring justice to heretics
  • the Aragonese faction developed in opposition to Wolsey's power and influence
    • sought to protect the Catholic faith
    • lept to Catherine's defence when Henry considered an annulment

The King's Great Matter

Henry's decision for divorce

  • Succession issue
    • without a male heir the Tudor line would stop and the throne would be passed
    • needed a legitimate male heir because it was seen that a woman couldn't run a country 
      • couldn't be trusted, back luck
      • could leave to civil war
    • Henry's medical advisers told him that Catherine would no longer be able to conceive
  • Desire for Anne
    • Henry was besotted with Anne
    • she wouldn't settle on being just his mistress
    • she was insistent that she would become his wife
  • Fear for England's security
    • could lead to civil unrest if Henry left no male heir and people already had claims to the throne
    • Europe was watching Henry's every move (Charles V was Catherine's nephew)
  • Moral/Religious Stance
    • Henry thought he'd gone against God and was being punished
    • a passage from Leviticus said that if you married your brother's wife you would not have children

Measures taken to prepare for the divorce

  • court was held at Blackfriar's secretly to find a reason to divorce Catherine
  • Henry appealed to the pope with the passage from Leviticus
    • pope didn't agree because he'd used a passage from Deuteronomy to marry them
  • Wolsey tried to get the divorce to be heard in England
  • Cranmer argued the case to Rome

Reformation Parliament

  • Act to limit pluralism - attempted reform on pluralism
  • Act to control clerical fees - 10% of clerical income was given to crown and the amount given to priests to pray for your soul was limited
  • Act of Annates - abolished annates and said that bishops must be elected by deans and chapters
  • Act in Restraint of Appeals - prevented appeals, in certain cases, from going to Rome
  • Act for the submission of the clergy - submitted existing canon laws to Henry for scrutiny
  • Act of Succession - stated Henry's marriage to Catherine invalid and Mary was declared illegitimate
  • Treason Act - made it a treasonable offence to deny the King's titles
  • Act of Supremacy - made Henry Supreme Head of the Church in England

Motivation for legislation

  • to gain more money and power
    • decreased Rome's authority in England, giving more power to Henry, and money that previously went to the Church went to the Crown
    • divorce - so Henry could grant his own annulment without the influence of the Church
    • to reform the Church - some acts were passed to reform
    • legitimise children with Anne - needed to legitimise future children to get a legitimate male heir

The Dissolution

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