Elizabethan Religious Settlement

The Elizabethan Religious Settlement, which was made during the reign of Elizabeth I, was a response to the religious divisions in England during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, and Mary I. This response, described as "The Revolution of 1559",[1] was set out in two acts of parliament. The Act of Supremacy of 1558 re-established the Church of England's independence from Rome, with parliament conferring on Elizabeth the title Supreme Governor of the Church of England (instead of Supreme Head) while the Act of Uniformity of 1559 re-introduced the 1552 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) which contained the liturgical services of the church with some modification in a more Catholic direction regarding the doctrine of the Real Presence; permission to use the traditional Mass vestments other articles of clergy dress in accordance with the Ornaments Rubric of 1549 which stated that these were such as in use in the first year of the reign of Edward VI (January 1547-) when services were still in Latin; and liturgical furniture[2] The BCP became the yardstick of Anglicanism, which came to see its identity mainly in liturgy and institutional continuity rather than in a systematic school or confessional theology; and also to a lesser extent as set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith which sought to navigate a middle way (via media) between Roman Catholicism, Continental Protestantism and radical sects.[3]

As for the governance of the church the Queen was determined to maintain control for her benefit and strengthen the monarchy as the supreme arbiter over a fractious society and nobility. All but one of the Marian bishops refused to consecrate a new Archbishop of Canterbury (canon law from the 4th century required a minimum of three for consecration). Intent upon maintaining the three-fold ministry of deacon, priest and bishop in the apostolic succession, she chose Matthew Parker, a Cambridge University don (lecturer), priest and former vice-chancellor of the university, who was consecrated in December 1559 by four bishops. Two, John Scory and Miles Coverdale had been ordained using the 1550 Ordinal in 1551; and two, William Barlow and John Hodgkins in the mid-1530s using the Roman Pontifical. All four had been consecrated bishops by men, Thomas Cranmer, John Hodgkins and Nicholas Ridley in Roman Catholic Orders in 1532, 1537 and 1547 respectively.[4] The Church might be "reformed" in theology but there would be no break with the ancient institutional church in governance.

The papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, issued on 25 February 1570 by Pope Pius V, declared "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime" to be a heretic, released all of her subjects from any allegiance to her, and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders. The bull, written in Latin, is named from its incipit, the first three words of its text, which mean "ruling from on high" (a reference to God). Among the queen's alleged offences, it lists that "she has removed the royal Council, composed of the nobility of England, and has filled it with obscure men, being heretics."

Reign of Elizabeth

Act of Supremacy

When Mary I died in 1558, Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne. One of the most important concerns during Elizabeth's early reign was the question of which form the state religion would take. Communion with the Roman Catholic Church had been reinstated under Mary using the instrument of Royal Supremacy. Elizabeth relied primarily on her chief advisors, Sir William Cecil as her Secretary of State and Sir Nicholas Bacon as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, for direction on the matter. Many historians believe that William Cecil himself wrote the Church Settlement because it was simply the 1551–1552 version watered down.

Parliament was summoned in 1559 to consider a Reformation Bill and to recreate an independent Church of England. The drafted Reformation Bill defined Holy Communion in terms of Reformed Protestant theology, as opposed to the transubstantiation of the Roman Catholic Mass, included abuse of the Pope in the litany,[5][6] and ordered that ministers should wear the surplice only and not other Roman Catholic vestments. It allowed priests to marry, banned images from churches, and confirmed Elizabeth as Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

The bill met heavy resistance in the House of Lords, as Roman Catholic bishops and lay peers opposed and voted against it. They reworked much of the bill, changed the proposed liturgy to allow for belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Communion, made allowance for the wearing of liturgical vestments, the celebration of Communion in the customary place (altar or table against the east wall), and refused to grant Elizabeth the title of Head of the Church. Parliament was prorogued over Easter and, when it resumed, the government entered two new bills into the Houses of Parliament; the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity. The Black Rubric of 1552 which permitted kneeling to receive communion out of reverence and not to suggest that the "real and essential" presence implied his body was in his natural flesh and blood, was repealed at the express order of the Queen. Henceforth kneeling continued as before as customary and the Real Presence implied without defining it with a doctrine such as transubstantiation. In 1662 the rubric was restored. The word "bodily" was left in and "corporal" added in order to exclude the meaning that Christ was present in his natural flesh and blood, but the words from the 1552 Book Black Rubric, "real and essential presence", were left out, thereby suggesting the real and essential presence, by silence, or after a spiritual manner, without explicitly taking a position on the matter.

Under Elizabeth, factionalism in the council and conflicts at court greatly diminished. The Act of Supremacy 1558 revived ten acts of Henry VIII that Mary had repealed and confirmed Elizabeth as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and passed without difficulty. Use of the term "Supreme Governor" instead of "Supreme Head" pacified many who were concerned about a female leader of the church. All but one of the bishops (the octogenarian Anthony Kitchin of Llandaff) lost their posts,[7] and a hundred fellows of Oxford colleges were deprived. Many dignitaries resigned rather than take the oath, and the bishops who were removed from the ecclesiastical bench were replaced by appointees who agreed to the reforms.

On the question of images, Elizabeth's initial reaction was to allow crucifixes and candlesticks and the restoration of roods, but some of the new bishops whom she had elevated protested. In 1560 Edmund Grindal, one of the Marian exiles now made Bishop of London, was allowed to enforce the demolition of rood lofts in London, and in 1561 the Queen herself ordered the demolition of all lofts, although she sometimes displayed a cross and candlesticks in her own chapel.[8] Thereafter, the determination to prevent any further restoration of "popery" was evidenced by the more thoroughgoing destruction of roods, vestments, stone altars, dooms, statues and other ornaments.

The queen also appointed a new Privy Council, removing many Roman Catholic counsellors by doing so. Amidst all the politics and danger (her accession was not wildly popular) it is not so easy to parse out what she wanted initially: an unmarried clergy (she detested married clergy); the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist without a theory of definition; Mass vestments; a holy table against the wall with a fair linen and candlesticks, "The Prayer Book communion would not be a mass, but at least it would look like a mass",[9] With the exception of the real presence, she did not succeed.

Act of Uniformity

The Act of Uniformity of 1559 required the people to attend religious services on Sunday in Church of England parishes in which new religious services had to be celebrated as set forth a new version of the Book of Common Prayer.

Darnley stage 3
Queen Elizabeth I of England reached a moderate religious settlement which became controversial after her death.


The settlement is often seen as a terminal point of the English Reformation and the Victorian tractarians introduced the idea that it provided what came to be called a "via media", a concept central to Anglicanism which was the refusal to adopt any one theology as official as this would lead to over-defining and the proliferation of doctrinal details characteristic of Continental Protestantism and Catholicism. However, the notion of the via media shows up very early in the reign of Charles I 1625-1649: it would be better to see her reign as a period without a "brand name". The base line adopted was conformity to the teachings of the Church Fathers and Catholic bishops as stated in the Injunctions of 1571, i.e. the first five centuries of the Christian Church would be the litmus test of catholicity in the reformed Church of England which would not celebrate a Reformation but emphasize continuity with the Pre-Reformation Church. This focus would bear first fruit during the reign of the early Stuarts as significant sections of the Church of England veered towards Arminianism and working and thinking the whole time in terms of patristic thought, especially of the Greek fathers.[10] The Stuart Divines rejected Roman doctrines and superstitions as they saw them and the disciplines of the Calvinists who were thought bent on destroying what the Anglicans cherished[11] The period marks the full emergence of the Anglican Via Media but its roots lay in the Settlement of 1559. The Catholic heritage which the Puritans and Radicals wanted to get rid of - in doctrine, in practice and institutionally as in the three-fold apostolic ministry and canon law - was the "cuckoo in the nest" that the Queen and the conservative reformers had refused to let go of and which eventually prevailed[12] Richard Hooker in his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity defended this settlement (although he is called the father of the via media, he actually provided the basis for it in a formal way). The via media would be characterized by a belief in reason, an "esteem for continuity over the Reformation divide, and a hospitality towards sacramental modes of thought." It was not so much a statement of what it was rather than what it was not. It was characterized by a stout refusal to speculate. Almost nothing original in doctrinal formulation came out Anglicanism [13] because the reforms were about liturgy and the institution. At the time the melange was believed to have established a Protestant church.[14] The Church of England would in time refuse to commit itself as either Protestant or Catholic or else say it was both.

Although Elizabeth "cannot be credited with a prophetic latitudinarian policy which foresaw the rich diversity of Anglicanism", her preferences made it possible.[15]. To some it can be said to represent a compromise in wording and practice between the first Book of Common Prayer of Edward VI (1549) and the Second Prayer Book (1552). For example, when Thomas Cranmer wrote the 1549 Prayer Book, it contained the words "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life." The 1552 edition, which was never implemented, replaces these words with "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving." The 1559 Prayer Book combines the two. However, some liturgical scholars such as Gregory Dix, Ratcliff, and Couratin would say that both prayer books taught the same eucharistic doctrine, albeit more cautiously in the first book.[nb 1] The Act which authorised the second book spoke of it as explaining and making "fully perfect" the first book.[16] Finally, the 1559 book, published under Matthew Parker during the reign of Elizabeth, includes both phrases.[17]

J. E. Neale's "Puritan Choir" thesis claimed that a small bloc of radical Protestant representatives struggled for a more aggressive reform, and had a major influence on Elizabethan politics. This theory has been challenged, however, by Christopher Haigh and others. The prevailing view amongst historians today is that Elizabeth accepted from the Lords a more Catholic settlement than she desired as the Lords only passed the changes by a vote of 21 to 18 after threats and bribes. The Queen could push, but only so far. The perceived alternative was having Puritan reforms forced on her by Marian exiles.

By the time of Elizabeth's death, there had emerged a new party, "perfectly hostile" to Puritans, but not adherents of Rome, the Anglicans, as they came to be called later in the century,[18] preferred the revised Book of Common Prayer of 1559, from which had been removed some of the matters offensive to Catholics.[19] A new dispute was between the Puritans, who wished to see an end of the Prayer Book, episcopacy and the Anglicans, the considerable body of people who looked kindly on the Elizabethan Settlement, who rejected "prophesyings", whose spirituality had been nourished by the Prayer Book and who preferred the governance of bishops.[20] It was between these two groups that, after Elizabeth's death in 1603, a new, more savage episode of the English Reformation was in the process of gestation.

Road to the Civil War

During the reigns of the first two Stuart kings of England, James I and Charles I, the battle lines were to become more defined, leading ultimately to the English Civil War, the first on English soil to engulf parts of the civilian population. The war was only partly about religion, but the abolition of prayer book and episcopacy by a Puritan Parliament was an element in the causes of the conflict. As Diarmaid MacCulloch has noted, the legacy of these tumultuous events can be recognised, throughout the Commonwealth (1649–1660) and the Restoration which followed it and beyond. Anglicans were to become the core of the restored Church of England, but at the price of further division. At the Restoration in 1660, the congregations of the Church of England were no longer to be the only Protestant congregations in England.

See also


  1. ^ For an extended treatment, see Ratcliff, E. C. (1980). "Reflections on Liturgical Revision". Grove Books: 12–17. discussing The Communion Service of the Prayer Book: Its intention, Interpretation and Revision, and also Dix, Gregory (1948). Dixit Cranmer Et Non Timuit. Dacre.
  1. ^ Dickens 1967, p. 401
  2. ^ Diarmid MacCullough, The Later English Reformation, 1547-1603, 1990 pp. 26-27, 55-57, 78-79, 141-142 ISBN 0-333-69331-0
  3. ^ MacCullough. pp. 78-79, 141-142
  4. ^ Project Canterbury, Supplementary Appendix A, Notes on the Consecration of Archbishop Parker, by Rev. Henry Barker, 2000; and the Register of the Diocese of Rochester on Ridley
  5. ^ Moynahan, Brian (2003-10-21). "chapter 19". The Faith. Random House of Canada. p. 816. ISBN 9780385491150.
  6. ^ England, Church of; William Keeling (B.D.) (1842). Liturgiae Britannicae. William Pickering. p. 426.
  7. ^ Doran, Susan (1994). Elizabeth 1 and Religion. Routledge. p. 13.
  8. ^ Haigh 1993, p. 244
  9. ^ Haigh 1993, p. 241
  10. ^ John R.H. Moorman, The Anglican Spiritual Tradition, 1983, pp. 104-106 ISBN 0-87243-25-8
  11. ^ Moorman, p. 105
  12. ^ Diarmid MacCullough, The Later English Reformation, 1547-1603, 1990 pp. 29, 38, 78-86 ISBN 0-333-69331-0
  13. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmid, The Later Reformation in England, 1547-1603 p. 55
  14. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (2005). "Putting the English Reformation on the Map". Trans. RHistS. CUP. XV: 75–95.
  15. ^ Dickens 1967, p. 403
  16. ^ Tanner, J. R. (1948). Tudor Constitutional Documents. CUP. p. 19.
  17. ^ Chadwick, Owen (1964). "The Reformation". Harmondsworth: Penguin: 121.
  18. ^ Maltby 1998, p. 235
  19. ^ Procter F. and Frere W. H., A New History of the Book of Common Prayer (Macmillan 1965) p. 91ff.
  20. ^ Maltby 1998
  • Dickens, A. G. (1967). "The English Reformation". Fontana.
  • Haigh, Cristopher (1993). "English Reformations: Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors". Oxford University Press.
  • Maltby, Judith (1998). "Prayer book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England". Cambridge.

External links

1558 in Ireland

Events from the year 1558 in Ireland.

1st Parliament of Queen Elizabeth I

The 1st Parliament of Queen Elizabeth I was summoned by Queen Elizabeth I of England on 5 December 1558 and assembled on 23 January 1559. At the state opening of Parliament the Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon informed the house that one of the main reasons for summoning the Parliament was to establish ‘an uniforme order of religion’. He also drew attention to the recent loss of Calais and the need to maintain the England's navy and coastal defences. The speech summarised Elizabeth’s manifesto for the whole of her reign i.e. to restore stability, prosperity and peace to the country. She approved the appointment of Sir Thomas Gargrave, sitting for Yorkshire, as Speaker of the House.

The membership of the Lower House (the House of Commons) numbered 402, of whom only a quarter had survived from the previous Parliament in the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. The membership of the Upper House (the House of Lords), however, still favoured Catholicism. After much debate the Commons held sway and two important acts were passed into law, the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity. Collectively referred to as the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, the former confirmed the break from Rome and the latter more Protestant practices for the Church of England.

A committee was established to guarantee the Queen's financial stability. She was also petitioned to marry and secure the succession, notwithstanding their concern about the approach from Queen Mary's widower, the Catholic King Philip II of Spain, which in the event was rebuffed by Elizabeth.

By the time Elizabeth's first Parliament was dissolved on 8 May 1559 some 24 public statutes and 17 private measures had passed into law.

A View of Popish Abuses Yet Remaining in the English Church

A View of Popish Abuses was written by John Field in 1572, criticising the church services, priests and clergy of Elizabethan England, particularly the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. A Puritan clergyman, Field desired to change the Act of Uniformity 1558 in order to remove aspects of Roman Catholicism that he found unacceptable. A View of Popish Abuses was designed to sway public opinion towards his view.

Act of Supremacy 1558

The Act of Supremacy 1558 (1 Eliz 1 c 1), sometimes referred to as the Act of Supremacy 1559, is an act of the Parliament of England, passed under the auspices of Elizabeth I. It replaced the original Act of Supremacy 1534 issued by Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, which arrogated ecclesiastical authority to the monarchy, and which had been repealed by Mary I. Along with the Act of Uniformity 1558 it made up what is generally referred to as the Elizabethan Religious Settlement.

The act remained in place until the 19th century, when some sections began to be repealed. By 1969 all save section 8 had been repealed by various acts. The whole Act was repealed in Northern Ireland in 1950 and 1953. Section 8 is still in force in Great Britain as of 2018.

Act of Uniformity

Over the course of English parliamentary history there were a number of Acts of Uniformity. All had the basic object of establishing some sort of religious orthodoxy within the English church.

The Act of Uniformity 1549 (2 & 3 Edw. 6, c. 1), also called Act of Equality, which established the Book of Common Prayer as the only legal form of worship.

The Act of Uniformity 1552 (5 & 6 Edw. 6, c. 1) required the use of the Book of Common Prayer of 1552.

The Act of Uniformity 1559 (1 Eliz., c. 2) was adopted on the accession of Elizabeth I. See Elizabethan Religious Settlement

The Act of Uniformity 1662 (13 & 14 Ch. 2, c. 4) was enacted after the restoration of the monarchy. It required the use of all the rites and ceremonies in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 in church services.

The Act of Uniformity (Explanation) Act 1663 (15 Car 2 c 6)(The '13&14 Ch. 2 c. 2' nomenclature is reference to the statute book of the numbered year of the reign of the named monarch in the stated chapter. This is the method used for Acts of Parliament from before 1962.)

Act of Uniformity 1558

The Act of Uniformity 1558 (1 Eliz 1 c 2) was an Act of the Parliament of England passed in 1559. It set the order of prayer to be used in the English Book of Common Prayer. All persons had to go to church once a week or be fined 12 pence (equivalent to just over £11 in 2007), a considerable sum for the poor.

The Act was part of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement in England instituted by Elizabeth I, who wanted to unify the Church. Other Acts concerned with this settlement were the Act of Supremacy 1559 and the Thirty-Nine Articles (1563). Elizabeth was trying to achieve a settlement after thirty years of turmoil during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, during which England had swung from Catholicism to Protestantism and back to Catholicism. The outcome of the Elizabethan Settlement was a sometimes tense and often fragile union of High Church and Low Church elements within the Church of England and Anglicanism worldwide.

Convocation of 1563

The Convocation of 1563 was a significant gathering of English and Welsh clerics that consolidated the Elizabethan religious settlement, and brought the Thirty-Nine Articles to close to their final form (which dates from 1571). It was, more accurately, the Convocation of 1562/3 of the province of Canterbury, beginning in January 1562 (Old Style).

Edward VI of England

Edward VI (12 October 1537 – 6 July 1553) was King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. Edward was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and England's first monarch to be raised as a Protestant. During his reign, the realm was governed by a regency council because he never reached his majority. The council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick (1550–1553), who from 1551 was Duke of Northumberland.

Edward's reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that in 1549 erupted into riot and rebellion. An expensive war with Scotland, at first successful, ended with military withdrawal from Scotland and Boulogne-sur-Mer in exchange for peace. The transformation of the Church of England into a recognisably Protestant body also occurred under Edward, who took great interest in religious matters. Although his father, Henry VIII, had severed the link between the Church and Rome, Henry VIII had never permitted the renunciation of Catholic doctrine or ceremony. It was during Edward's reign that Protestantism was established for the first time in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the Mass, and the imposition of compulsory services in English.

In February 1553, at age 15, Edward fell ill. When his sickness was discovered to be terminal, he and his Council drew up a "Devise for the Succession", to prevent the country's return to Catholicism. Edward named his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir, excluding his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. This decision was disputed following Edward's death, and Jane was deposed by Mary nine days after becoming queen. During her reign, Mary reversed Edward's Protestant reforms, which nonetheless became the basis of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559.

History of the Puritans

The history of the Puritans can be traced back to the first Vestments Controversy in the reign of Edward VI, the formation of an identifiable Puritan movement in the 1560s and ends in a decline in the mid-18th century. The status of the Puritans as a religious group in England changed frequently as a result of both political shifts in their relationship to the state and the Church of England, and of changing views of Puritans. It is not typically summarised as a whole, since the political events of the 1640s, sometimes called the Puritan Revolution, have complex roots, any more than the term "Puritan" can be given a useful and precise definition outside the particular historical context. The Puritan's main purpose was to purify the Church of England and to make England a more religious country.

History of the Puritans under Elizabeth I, 1558–1603

History of the Puritans under James I, 1603–1625

History of the Puritans under Charles I, 1625–1649

History of the Puritans from 1649

History of the Puritans in North America

History of the Puritans under Queen Elizabeth I

The reign of Elizabeth I of England, from 1558 to 1603, saw the rise of the Puritan movement in England, its clash with the authorities of the Church of England, and its temporarily effective suppression as a political movement in the 1590's by judicial means. This of course led to the further alienation of Anglicans and Puritans from one another in the 17th century during the reign of King James (1603-1625) and the reign of King Charles I (1625-1649), that eventually brought about the English Civil War (1642-1651), the brief rule of the Puritan Lord Protector of England Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658), the English Commonwealth (1649-1660), and as a result the political, religious, and civil liberty that is celebrated today in all English speaking countries.

The English Puritan movement in the reign of Elizabeth and beyond, sought to further the work of reforming the church of England, eradicate the influence of Roman Catholicism in the land, as well as promote the national interest of the English crown and the English people under a united Protestant confession that was in strict conformity to the Bible and Reformed theology. This Puritan vision that began in the Elizabethan era would eventually result in the Westminster Assembly, and the Westminster Standards, including Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter Catechism, and Larger Catechism, and the Directory for Public Worship.

Jerome Corbet

Jerome Corbet (born in the 1530s; died 1598) was an Elizabethan politician and lawyer of Shropshire landed gentry background. A brother of Sir Andrew Corbet and, like him, a supporter of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, he became an MP for Bridgnorth and a member of the Council in the Marches of Wales.

Kingdom of England

The Kingdom of England (Anglo-Norman and French: Royaume d'Angleterre) was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 927, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were united by Æthelstan (r. 927–939). In 1016, the kingdom became part of the North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark and Norway. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 led to the transfer of the English capital city and chief royal residence from the Anglo-Saxon one at Winchester to Westminster, and the City of London quickly established itself as England's largest and principal commercial centre.Histories of the kingdom of England from the Norman conquest of 1066 conventionally distinguish periods named after successive ruling dynasties: Norman 1066–1154, Plantagenet 1154–1485, Tudor 1485–1603 and Stuart 1603–1714 (interrupted by the Interregnum (England) of 1649–1660).

Dynastically, all English monarchs after 1066 ultimately claim descent from the Normans; the distinction of the Plantagenets is merely conventional, beginning with Henry II (reigned 1154–1189) as from that time, the Angevin kings became "more English in nature"; the houses of Lancaster and York are both Plantagenet cadet branches, the Tudor dynasty claimed descent from Edward III via John Beaufort and James VI and I of the House of Stuart claimed descent from Henry VII via Margaret Tudor.

The completion of the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1284 put Wales under the control of the English crown. Edward III (reigned 1327–1377) transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe; his reign also saw vital developments in legislation and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament. From the 1340s the kings of England also laid claim to the crown of France, but after the Hundred Years' War and the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses in 1455, the English were no longer in any position to pursue their French claims and lost all their land on the continent, except for Calais. After the turmoils of the Wars of the Roses, the Tudor dynasty ruled during the English Renaissance and again extended English monarchical power beyond England proper, achieving the full union of England and the Principality of Wales in 1542. Henry VIII oversaw the English Reformation, and his daughter Elizabeth I (reigned 1558–1603) the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, meanwhile establishing England as a great power and laying the foundations of the British Empire by claiming possessions in the New World.

From the accession of James VI and I in 1603, the Stuart dynasty ruled England in personal union with Scotland and Ireland. Under the Stuarts, the kingdom plunged into civil war, which culminated in the execution of Charles I in 1649. The monarchy returned in 1660, but the Civil War had established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without the consent of Parliament. This concept became legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

From this time the kingdom of England, as well as its successor state the United Kingdom, functioned in effect as a constitutional monarchy. On 1 May 1707, under the terms of the Acts of Union 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Marian exiles

The Marian Exiles were English Protestants who fled to the continent during the 1553 - 1558 reign of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I and King Philip. They settled chiefly in Protestant countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, and also in France, Italy and Poland.

Martin Marprelate

Martin Marprelate (sometimes printed as Martin Mar-prelate and Marre–Martin) was the name used by the anonymous author or authors of the seven Marprelate tracts that circulated illegally in England in the years 1588 and 1589. Their principal focus was an attack on the episcopacy of the Anglican Church.

Puritan choir

The Puritan choir was a theory advanced by historian Sir John Neale of an influential movement of radical English Protestants in the Elizabethan Parliament. In his biography Queen Elizabeth I Neale argues that throughout her reign Elizabeth faced increasingly organised and dominant opposition to her policies in the House of Commons and that this strengthening of Parliament sowed the seeds for the English Civil War.

Robert Crowley (printer)

Robert Crowley (Robertus Croleus, Roberto Croleo, Robart Crowleye, Robarte Crole or Crule, c. 1517 – 18 June 1588), was a stationer, poet, polemicist and Protestant clergyman among Marian exiles at Frankfurt. He seems to have been a Henrician Evangelical in favour of a more reformed Protestantism than the king and the Church of England sanctioned. Under Edward VI, he joined a London network of evangelical stationers to argue for reforms, sharing a vision of his contemporaries Hugh Latimer, Thomas Lever, Thomas Beccon and others of England as a reformed Christian commonwealth. He attacked as inhibiting reform what he saw as corruption and uncharitable self-interest among the clergy and wealthy. Meanwhile Crowley took part in making the first printed editions of Piers Plowman, the first translation of the Gospels into Welsh, and the first complete metrical psalter in English, which was also the first to include harmonised music. Towards the end of Edward's reign and later, Crowley criticised the Edwardian Reformation as compromised and saw the Dissolution of the Monasteries as replacing one form of corruption by another. On his return to England after the reign of Mary I, Crowley revised his chronicle to represent the Edwardian Reformation as a failure, due to figures like Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. Crowley's account of the Marian martyrs represented them as a cost mostly paid by commoners. The work became a source for John Foxe's account of the period in his Actes and Monuments. Crowley held church positions in the early to mid-1560s and sought change from the pulpit and within the church hierarchy. Against the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, Crowley was a leader in the renewed vestments controversy, which eventually lost him his clerical posts. During the dispute he and other London clergy produced a "first Puritan manifesto". Late in life Crowley was restored to several church posts and appears to have charted a more moderate course in defending it from Roman Catholicism and from nonconformist factions that espoused a Presbyterian church polity.

Westminster Conference 1559

The Westminster Conference of 1559 was a religious disputation held early in the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Although the proceedings themselves were perfunctory, the outcome shaped the Elizabethan religious settlement.

William More (died 1600)

Sir William More (30 January 1520 – 20 July 1600), of Loseley, Surrey, was the son of Sir Christopher More. He was actively involved in local administration and in the enforcement of the Elizabethan religious settlement, and was a member of every Parliament during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was the owner of property in the Blackfriars in which the first and second Blackfriars theatres were erected.

Middle Ages

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