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How far was England Protestant by 1553?

March 29th, 2010 No comments

When Henry VIII died in 1547, England was more Catholic than Protestant. Although Henry had tried to introduce Protestantism when in July 1536 the Act of Ten Articles was introduced, which saw a clear move towards Protestantism, and when in July 1546 Henry named heavily Protestant council of Regency for his heir. However, Henry wrote The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition of a Christian Man in May 1543. This book defended transubstantiation, a Catholic belief, defended the Six Articles, and it also encouraged preaching. These showed Henry to be defending some of the practices of the Catholic faith. When in 1546 Anne Askew was burned for denying transubstantiation, this showed Henry’s continued commitment to parts of Catholicism. These all mean that by the end of Henry’s reign in 1547 England was more Catholic than Protestant. However by the time of the death of Edward VI in 1553, England seemed to be more Protestant. This was mostly true however, the majority of people were moderate in their religious ideas and remained neither Catholic nor Protestant in their views.

There is some evidence to say that by 1553 England was not very Protestant but still Catholic or just moderate. When Henry died in 1547, the Eucharist was defined in the Catholic form of transubstantiation; this was the belief that the sacramental bread and wine were transformed at consecration into the body and blood of Christ. The Catholic rites of transubstantiation, private masses and hearing of confession by priests had been re-introduced as well as penance and baptism. Many Catholic rituals were also still practised in the churches because it was thought that they gave the congregation a good religious frame of mind. Even though the majority of elites in England were in favour of religious change, in general, the lower clergy appeared to be opposed to religious change. Read more…