Article

English Reformation

Stella Fletcher

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0012
English Reformation

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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Fifteenth-century England was solidly Catholic, 17th-century England predominantly Protestant: the difference between them constituted the English Reformation. Scholarly opinion is divided about the nature of the changes that happened in the 16th century, the rate at which they occurred in town and country and from region to region, and whether they came about because of a series of political decisions imposed “from above” by the Tudor monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I or as the expression of popular religious fervor welling up “from below.” Henry’s reign (1509–1547) witnessed the formal break with Rome, the declaration of royal supremacy over the church in England, and the plundering of the nation’s monastic wealth, but official promotion of more overt expressions of Protestantism had to wait for the brief reign of Edward VI (1547–1553). Mary I (reigned 1553–1558) reversed the policies of her father and brother, thereby placing England at the forefront of Catholic attempts to stem the Protestant tide. The long reign of Elizabeth (1558–1603) witnessed the emergence of an Anglican via media between the Catholic and Puritan extremes on the English ecclesiastical spectrum.

Article.  9849 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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