Religious changes under Edward
Religious changes under Edward
To what extent was England a protestant country by the death of Edward in 1553?
Edward ruled for only 6 years so given the lack of popular support for Protestantism was it possible to change the views of a nation in such a short time?
Has been argues there were steady and slow moves, and major moves were only brought it towards the end of the period
Compared to situation in 1547 the church had changed a great deal due to influence of 2 protector and protestant theologians such as Martin Bucer who had come into the country
Difficult to judge how ordinary people perceived the changes. Many appeared to grudgingly obey, and the amount of religious change since the reformation had left people confused or religiously indifferent. However the rapid reversal to Catholicism under Mary suggests that traditional religion retained its popularity.
Somerset a protestant- although moderate so changes slow
East Anglia and London had many who welcomed reform, although reformists here still in the minority
Visitations examined state of clergy, doctrine and church practices
Book of Homilies 1547- provided clergy with model sermons
1547 ordered to conduct sermons in English and ensure there was an English bible in every church, also had to remove superstitious images. All cautious moves
1547 Chantries Act- attack on idea that money could get you into heaven- but also raised money to fund war with Scotland
Treason Act repealed= free speech on religion. Unleashed radical views
Act of Uniformity 1549, ordered clergy to use a number of protestant practices that hadn't been previously enforced eg. clergy allowed to marry, singing masses for souls of dead not approved
Church largely Catholic when Henry died in 1547, but pope not head of Church
Still alot of support for traditional practices and dissolution of the monasteries had provoked large scale unrest
So would be a hard task to win over the hearts and minds of public to get them to support a religion that is less visually attractive
Many bishops still conservative eg. Gardiner and majority of lower clergy opposed to change
Some argued that under the terms of Henry VIII's will religious changes could not be made until Edward was 18- so council had to proceed cautiously
1548 Council had to ban all public preaching as repeal of treason law meant government struggled to control radical views. Limited spread of protestantism
Many Catholic practices remained by 1549- fast days remained, belief in purgatory remained, worship of saints wasn't banned only discouraged.
Bishop Hooper found that in Gloucester out of 311 clergy 171 didn't know the 10 Commandments- shows how difficult it would be to enforce Protestantism- although thoroughness of investigations suggests that government was willing to take action to ensure changes were made.
Grass roots opposition- unrest in Devon and Cornwall (Prayer book rebellion 1549). And in Yorkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire which in part led to Somerset's fall in 1549
By the time of Somerset's fall in 1549 almost all the traditional Catholic practices had been attacked but attempts to implement Protestantism had been slow and met with grass roots opposition
Factional struggle between conservatives and reformists in the council- only with Northumberland's triumph in 1550 could more religious change begin
1550 procedure for ordination of priests revised
Conservative bishops eg. Gardiner deprived of their sees, giving reformists a majority among bishops. Therefore when parliament met in 1552 they were able to embark on a large scale programme of protestant reform
New treason Act 1552 making it treason to question the Act of Supremacy or any beliefs of the church
1552 Second Act of Uniformity, replaced Book of Common Prayer with a more protestant version- The Second Book of Common Prayer, which was introduced in every parish where Churchwarden account survive.
42 articles refused to accept purgatory and transubstantiation- never became law because of Edward's death
Evidence that many still disagreed with protestant reform eg. Martin Bucer observed in 1550 that the clergy were reading the services so rapidly that they couldn't be understood any better than if they were in Latin
Very difficult to enforce change eg, struggle to remove images- there were 3 orders to destroy images before being finally completed in 1550