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Archive for March, 2010

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…

English Epic Poetry Essay

March 29th, 2010 No comments

One distinctive characteristic of Old English Literature is the role of heroic epic poetry. According to, epic poetry is defined as “a broadly defined genre of poetry, which retells in a continuous narrative the life and works of a heroic person or group of heroic persons either historical or mythical.” In Medieval literature, the role of the hero has played a constant role in the works surfacing from that time period. The hero role is a man or woman who usually possesses powers far beyond that of a standard human being. In most cases, one of the ongoing themes from the work is the struggle between Man vs. Evil. An excellent example of an epic piece that includes the role of the hero is the literary work, Beowulf.

The Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf is probably the most important work of Old English Literature. It tells the story of a hero named Beowulf and his exploits fighting the evil Grendel’s mother and a Dragon. The storyteller uses many elements to build a certain depth to the characters. According to, a few of the important character elements in Beowulf are “wealth and honor, biblical and paganistic, and man vs. wild themes.”

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Parallel Themes in The Iliad and The Odyssey

March 24th, 2010 No comments

The Iliad is an epic about the rage of Achilles. Achilles is a warrior on the Greek side of the Trojan war. The Iliad starts with Achilles’s excessive anger towards Agamemnon and ends with Achilles killing Nestor. Although Achilles does not do much fighting within the epic he plays a large role in one of the main themes within the epic; the theme that nothing is good in excess. Achilles has excessive rage and his friend Patroclus has excessive pride while fighting in Achilles’s armor. This theme can also be seen in The Odyssey . The excess of the suitors’s stay in Ithaca leads them to death upon the return of Odysseus. The theme of excess in anything leading to trouble is seen in both The Iliad and The Odyssey. Read more…