The Tudor Times
October 5, 1582
By Matt Menzie
Religion in the Medieval time period had a large affect on all aspects of society. Whether it was how you lived your life or what laws were passed, religion had an impact on it. In England during the 16th century, religious beliefs had been affected by the creation of the Church of England. When Queen Elizabeth I took the throne she had to establish a concrete belief system that had been changed over the past 30 years by her predecessors. Queen Elizabeth is one of the most important queens in British history because her actions prevented a religious war that could have divided the country.
In 1534, Henry VIII separated from the Catholic Church in order to divorce his wife. Although Henry VIII kept the Church of England very similar to the catholic church. After Henry VIII died, his Protestant son, Edward VI, pushed to redesign the Church of England to follow his own beliefs. He removed stain glass and decorations from churches, simplified masses by concentrating on the Bible. The catholic churches’ decorations were seen as distractions by Protestants so they were removed. Edward died at a young age and his sister, Mary inherited the throne. Mary, raised Catholic wanted to alter the Church of England and make it Catholic again. Although Edward’s rules were in place Mary had no problem repealing them. She forcefully changed the church and killed hundreds of Protestants who resisted change by having them burned at the stake. As a result, Protestants hated the Catholics for what happened to their companions and tensions rose quickly between the sides. When Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558 she was presented a divided and potentially hostile country. In order to create a unified church and country Elizabeth I set out to transform the religion throughout her reign. Elizabeth hoped that she would be remembered by “my name, my virginity, the years of my reign, the reformation of religion under it, and my preservation of peace. ” This shows how dedicated Elizabeth I was to changing the Church of England and preventing a civil war in her country caused by religion. In 1559 Elizabeth I reestablished the Act of Supremacy; first used by Henry VIII to break away from Rome and become the head of the Church of England. This gave her full control of the church and helped break down the catholic influence Mary I had incorporated during her reign. The Act of Uniformity was also passed by Parliament in 1559 as another way to change the church and create a compromise to prevent war. The Book of Common Prayer was introduced again for masses like it had been during Edward VI’s Protestant reign. Attendance at Sunday Mass was enforced and anyone who missed it were fined 12 pence, which was a considerable amount of money for most citizens.
In 1539 the 39 Articles were introduced and it outlined the belief system of the Church of England. The Articles stated that the Church was against transubstantiation, priest celibacy and other Catholic teachings.
However the Articles said that the serving the body and blood of Christ is accepted during Mass. The 39 Articles was the defining moment of the Church of England during Queen Elizabeths I reign. She was able to solidify the religion’s beliefs and incorporated parts of the Articles that would be accepted by both Catholics and Protestants. Her compromise between the two religions was her way of preventing a war. Without Queen Elizabeth I involvement, England would have broken out in civil war and thousands would have died over religious differences.
Medieval England was torn between Protestants and Catholicism during the 16th century and tensions began to rise between the two sides. The Church of England’s beliefs had been changed over the years by different Monarchs and their subjects were often caught in the middle. When Queen Elizabeth I came to power in 1558 she made it her duty to fix the church and establish a concrete belief system that everyone would follow. The Act of Uniformity and the 39 Articles were key parts to her plan and helped her meet her goals. Queen Elizabeth I is the reason that the Church of England is what is today. Without her efforts the entire country could have broken out into war and history would have been changed forever. Queen Elizabeth is one of the few leaders in history to ever to keep her country from civil war over conflicting religious beliefs.
Dissolution of the Catholic Monasteries
By Jenna Ellis
It was only a matter of time after the Act of Supremacy was passed that the king started to take advantage of his new found powers. His ultimate mission was to convert the entire country of England to a new religion under his rule and not the Popes. This dissolution of the monasteries started April 1536 and ended around April 1580, turning the dissolution into a four year process.
King Henry VIII was seeking out monasteries for the attack against the Catholic church. He claims the confiscation was necessary because he was afraid that the people of the Catholic church would not be loyal to The Church of England. Another reason to fear the monasteries was the fear that the people would continue to keep their loyalties to the pope. Although this is a valid argument it is also rumored the king is only taking the land for the financial benefits.
Due to the indulgences taken in by the Catholic churches the monasteries were the most wealthy places in the country. It is also present that when King Henry's father died, he was left with a large inheritance which apparently was not large enough. The King blew the money quickly making monasteries the perfect opportunity to get his money back.
Valor Ecclesiasticus was a way for the king so see how much poverty the Churches had
when his representatives went to visit. They were the ones enforcing the Parliaments act of March 1536. That act stating that any church with an income lower than £200 was to be shut down and all property was given to the King. About 300 monitstaries a year were dissolved. That wasn't the total destruction of the monasteries because King Henry VIII gave special permission for about 67 monasteries to stay up, but that permission came with a price. The price was about a year's income so Henry received about £13,500. Out of 77 houses in total Henry was making a major profit. In order for a religious house to survive they had to also have connections and be on the kings side.
Not only were monasteries lost but there was also a loss in culture that can never be replaced. Henry was ruthless during this time of dissolution. He didn't hesitate to execute anyone that seemed to be disloyal to the king. He executed 5000 monks, 1600 friars, and 2000 nuns during the anglican reformation. In all the dissolution proved to have a dramatic impact on the lives and cultures of many. History, lives, and culture were all lost and will never be brought back or replaced. King Henry VIII is the one at fault. One man changed England entirely.
Why Mary Tudor's Policies Ended in Failure
By Mariel Reilly
Having acquired a nickname like “Bloody Mary,” it’s no wonder Mary Tudor wasn’t a favorite of the English people. As an adolescent, her father King Henry VIII converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn. Because of this, Mary chose to remain a devout and zealous Catholic. Meanwhile, the majority of England followed Henry in his conversion as it also treated the public well. The reign of King Henry VIII ended with his death in 1547, and so began the reign of his son Edward VI.
Edward passed away in 1553 after battling an unnamed illness for over half a year. Mary Tudor began her short term as Queen of England. Her main priority; convert all of England back from Protestantism to Catholicism through the Counter Reformation.
By the time that Mary had taken her reign, England had been accustomed to Protestantism for roughly twenty years and were happy with that, which made it impossible for the people to ever turn back to Catholicism, even under Mary Tudor’s terrifying rule. She ordered roughly three-hundred people, including Thomas Cramners, to be burned at the steak for heresy.
The differences of where Lutherists and Catholics stood on the concepts of; salvation, sacraments, religious authority, communion and the role of the pope, are drastic. Lutherists believe that salvation was achieved simply by Justification of Faith as opposed to the Catholic belief of having to obey all seven sacraments, do good works, and attend church. Lutheranism also houses the belief of the invisible church which allows its members to pray when they feel and not solely in church. Catholicism tends to be very literal in certain situations such as communion. At the time, Catholics believed in transubstantiation, but Lutherists see the bread and wine only as a spiritual represenation on the body and blood of Christ. The same way Martin Luther was appalled by what Catholicism had become when he visited Rome, as was Mary Tudor when she was left to rule the newly Protestant England.
Mary’s strict stance on heresy did not allow for rebellion, and because of this, roughly three-hundred people were burned at the stake by her orders. Shortly after Mary took her place as Queen of England, her policies ended in failure. Prostantsim was free of simony, nepotism, absenteeism, pluralities, and indulgences. It served the people well and was the faith they would then cling to as strongly as they could. Mary Tudor’s policies therefore ended in failure.