English Reformation


The English Reformation began with Henry VIII of England (r. 1509-1547 CE) and continued in stages over the rest of the 16th century CE. The process witnessed the break away from the Catholic Church headed by the Pope in Rome. The Protestant Church of England was thus established and the English monarch became its supreme head. Other consequences included the dissolution of the monasteries, the abolition of the Mass, the use of the English language in services and in the Bible used, the replacement of altars with communion tables, and a general doing away of the more decorative and showy elements of Catholicism both within services and the churches themselves. The majority of people went along with the change, the rich because of the wealth they gained from the stripped-down Church, and the commoners because they deferred to the authorities and imposition of fines for not toeing the line and attending the new Anglican Church, as it became known. There were, too, objections from both Catholics and more radical Protestants such as the several Puritan groups who would go their own way and establish their own churches which adhered more closely to the thoughts expounded by such reformers as John Calvin (1509-1564 CE).

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