On Mondays we want to encourage discussion about Church history. The sixteenth century was a big time for Reformation in England as well as in Saxony and Switzerland. There seem to be more politically active characters in the English Reformation. Yes, theological debate has often sparked warfare. Then again, Christians are among those who have always believed the truth is worth dying for. Normally they have not been as willing to inflict death as they were during the time period Gonzalez is discussing here. What happened in England?
Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 2. New York: HarperCollins, 2010b. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 8 “The Reformation in Great Britain” Loc. 1444-1746.
Because of the British division between Scotland and England in the 16th century, Gonzalez treats them separately, here detailing England (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1450). The royal families of England and Spain made an alliance by marriage. After the death of his brother, Arthur, Henry of England married Spain’s Catherine with a papal dispensation allowing him to marry his brother’s widow. The marriage was not happy and did not produce an heir to the throne (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1457). Henry was not able to get his marriage annulled, Gonzalez suggests, because Catherine was the aunt of Charles V, who could prevent the pope from proclaiming what she would see as her dishonor (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1472). Henry moved to exercise royal control over the clergy, rather than Roman control. Gonzalez does not view Henry as a friend of Protestantism, merely as someone in conflict with the papacy (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1486). Protestant ideas were, however, circulating in England. In 1534, the Parliament moved to seat the power over the Church in England in the royal throne (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1494). Thomas More, former chancellor, was subsequently imprisoned and executed for refusal to proclaim the layman king as the head of the church (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1501). After his there were more moves for religious reforms, rather than more political restructurings.
Henry went on to marry Anne Boleyn and later, after her execution on a charge of adultery, Jane Seymour, of whom Edward VI was born (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1515). Henry entered into two more attempted political marriages after Jane Seymour, as he desired an alliance with Germany (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1520). This was unsuccessful. Henry moved the English Church toward a form similar to Roman Catholicism, but for acceptance of the pope(Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1523). Meanwhile, a reform movement continued in the church, with growing popularity of English Scriptures and liturgy (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1530).
After Henry’s death in 1547, Edward VI held reign under a regent, during which time Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was released, first with a rather Lutheran liturgy, then a second edition more Zwinglian in nature (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1546). Edward died after six years, leaving Mary, daughter of Catherine, on the throne. She worked to restore Roman Catholicism (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1561). In 1554 england became officially Catholic again (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1561). The persecution of Protestants in her reign made her known as Bloody Mary (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1569). Cranmer, arrested and pressed to recant, did so in writing, but rejected his recantation before being executed (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1590).
In 1558 Mary was succeeded by Elizabeth, who restored Protestantism in England (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1598). A new edition of the Book of Common Prayer combined the wording of the first two editions. In 1562 the Thirty-Nine Articles were published, creating boundaries of unity within which most Protestants and Catholics could find fellowship (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1613). By the end of Elizabeth’s reign, many Catholics were finding they could be faithful both to their religion and their queen (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1628).
During the 16th century Scotland had remained mostly allied to France (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1645). However, Protestantism gained ground in Scotland during the century. Mary Stuart, heir to the throne in 1542 as an infant, was eventually married to a French Catholic prince (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1659). Protestants, soon under the influence of John Knox, took possession of the Castle of St. Andrew’s (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1659). Knox, arrested in the recapture of St. Andrew’s, was eventually released at the behest of Edward VI (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1674). The persecution under Mary Tudor drove Knox and others to Geneva and Zurich, where their Calvinist ideas were strengthened (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1674). Meanwhile, after the death of Mary Tudor, Mary Stuart claimed both the Scottish and English thrones, becoming the enemy of Elizabeth (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1682). The Calvinist leaders became more of a polarizing influence in Scotland at this time (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1689).
In 1560 the stage was set for a full scale conflict between Elizabeth and Mary with John Knox and the Reformed Church in Scotland as a catalyst (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1712). Mary, intent on the English throne, made various political mistakes which quickly discredited her (Gonzalez 2010b, Loc. 1728). She was finally executed for her conspiracies.
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