1517-1564: The Reformation.

The church is in terrible shape, and everyone agrees change is necessary. Lutherans rediscover justification by faith and personal relationship with Christ. They popularize the Bible, and retain most of the traditions of the church (though not scholasticism, allegory, or the historic episcopate). Calvinists (Presbyterians, Puritans, Reformed, Congregationalists, etc., also Zwinglians) reject everything not expressly commanded in the Bible. Anabaptists (Baptists, charismatics, etc.) deny there has been any continuity in the historic Church. Humanists (liberals, Unitarians) introduce scientific study of old documents and traditions and emphasize the ethical teachings of Jesus. Roman Catholics rediscover scripture, tradition, reason, and mystical experience in their own counter-reformation. Ultimately, we Anglicans are influenced about equally by all five movements. The history of the English reformation, however, is not very edifying....

1521 Lutheran books appear in England. Cambridge students form a study-group at the White Horse Tavern; Thomas Cranmer is perhaps among them. Henry VIII writes a book on the sacraments against Luther. The bishop of Rome gives him a golden rose and names him "defender of the faith".
1525 Henry VIII, who long ago got special permission from the bishop of Rome to marry his brother's virgin widow Catherine, has been upset because she cannot bear him a son. This is the year Henry meets pretty Anne Boleyn. This begins the "King's affair." The bishop of Rome will not annul Henry's marriage to Catherine, because Catherine's nephew is holding him prisoner....
1526 Cardinal Wolsey presides at a massive burning of Lutheran books.
1527 Thomas Bilney, respected Cambridge preacher and Lutheran sympathizer, is dragged from his pulpit. (He is burned in 1531.)
1528 Simon Fish, a London attorney and amateur actor who has fled to Antwerp after spoofing the clergy, writes "A Supplication for Beggars", which urges an end to taxes for Rome. (Henry VIII really likes this book.)
1529 Henry VIII decides he does not need to get permission from the bishop of Rome to have his marriage annulled. (The idea is probably Thomas Cromwell's.) He declares himself head of the English church (whatever that means), forcibly cuts the Anglican bishops off from communion with Rome, calls the Reformation Parliament, and marries Anne Boleyn. Services at the churches, however, remain essentially the same. (The mass is in Latin, there is no sermon or systematic Bible reading, and the people are passive and receive communion only at Easter, getting only the consecrated bread.)
1532 Cranmer made archbishop of Canterbury. (This effectly ends clerical celibacy among Anglicans, as Cranmer is twice-married). The "Act in Restraint of Appeals" prohibits appeals to the bishop of Rome.
1534 "Act of Succession." Everyone must swear allegiance to Henry VIII as head of the English church. Thomas More, his Prime Minister and author of "Utopia", and John Fisher, saintly bishop of Rochester, refuse to swear.
1535 Henry VIII beheads Fisher and More after the bishop of Rome makes Fisher a cardinal. Henry is sorry to have to do this, and his court wears mourning for two weeks. Henry had intended to execute Mary, his daughter by Catherine, who also refused to swear. He was dissuaded from doing this by Cranmer.
1536 Henry VIII executes Anne Boleyn and marries Jane Seymour. He continues to oppose the introduction of an English-language Bible for his people.
1536 (Brussels) William Tyndale, a priest and Lutheran sympathizer who is responsible for an illegal English translation of the Bible, is strangled at the stake. Tyndale's last words are "Lord, open the King of England's eyes."
1536 Henry VIII ensures the permanent popularity of the English reformation by abolishing the monasteries and sharing the loot with almost everyone.
1538 John Rogers (alias Thomas Matthew) prints the Tyndale Bible translation (finished by Miles Coverdale) in Paris. It is approved by the Henry VIII as the "Great Bible" to be read by all his people.
1538 Jane Seymour dies following the birth of Henry VIII's only legitimate son, Edward.
1539 The Six Articles, against Lutheranism. Hugh Latimer, bishop of Winchester, resigns in protest. Henry VIII is still occasionally burning Lutherans and hanging Roman Catholics.
1540 Henry VIII marries and divorces Anne of Cleves, executes the now-unpopular Thomas Cromwell, and marries Katherine Howard.
1543 Katherine Howard beheaded. Henry VIII marries Katherine Parr.
1544 Cranmer instructed to write prayers and a litany (for the army) in English. He does this so well that he is asked to make a prayer book in English, based on the service at Salisbury Cathedral.
1545 Henry VIII's last speech to Parliament. He says Papist, Lutheran, Anabaptist are names devised by the devil to sunder one man's heart from another.
1546 (Germany) Council of Trent. Bishops in communion with the bishop of Rome decide that the church "venerates equally" the Bible and the written and unwritten traditions (whatever that means). This is the beginning of the Tridentine Church (today's Roman Catholic church). England is becoming a haven for Protestants from the continent.
1547 Henry VIII dies. He has executed around 60 people for "religious" reasons, among a total of about 130 political executions. He is succeeded by his sickly teenaged son, Edward VI. Chantries suppressed.
1548 Prayer of Humble Access, for the people to say in English, introduced into Latin mass.
1548 "Images" ordered removed from all churches by the council of regents. This also means no vestments, ashes, palms, holy water, or crucifixes. This causes so much resentment that an order suppressing all preaching follows.
1549 First Book of Common Prayer (Cranmer's work), introduced on Day of Pentecost. It is written in English, emphasizes the people's participation in the eucharist, and requires the Bible to be read from cover to cover. Fast days are retained (supposedly to help fishermen), but saints' days are not. Roman Catholic rebels in Cornwall claim they cannot understand English.
1550 New ordinal requires that a Bible be given to newly-ordained bishops (not a staff) and priests (not eucharistic vessels).
1550 "Hooper's visitation". A bishop surveys the parish priests and finds them concerned about their work but poorly educated.
1552 Book of Common Prayer revised to suit Protestants. No more "real presence" at the eucharist (the "black rubric" permits kneeling, however). No vestments, no signing of the cross at confirmation, no holy oil, no reserved sacrament, no prayers for the departed.
1553 Forty-two articles drafted. The Calvinist influence is obvious.
1553 (Geneva) Calvin burns Michael Servetus, a Unitarian who has fled to escape the Spanish Inquisition. Liberals lose their illusions about Calvinism.
1553 Edward VI dies. People are tired of Protestant looting of churches. Mary Tudor ("Bloody Mary"), a militant Roman Catholic, becomes queen. Popular at first, she soon marries the hated Philip II of Spain. Persecution of Protestants begins; Mary appoints new bishops and fires all married priests. During her reign, about 300 Protestans are burned, including 5 bishops, 100 priests, 60 women. An attempt by Cardinal Pole (Mary's archbishop of Canterbury) to restore monasticism fizzles when, among 1500 surviving monks, nuns, and friars, fewer than 100 are willing to return to celibacy. All this ensures Roman Catholics will remain unpopular in England.
1555 Mary burns bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley at the stake (Oct. 16).
1556 Mary succeeds in brainwashing Thomas Cranmer, who signs a retraction which he later repudiates. Mary burns him at the stake (March 21).
1558 Mary dies. (Cardinal Pole dies minutes later.) Elizabeth I, a Protestant, becomes queen. Despite many problems (including frequent assassination plots from Roman Catholics), she supports the enterprising middle class and England prospers.
1559 Ordination of the moderate Matthew Parker as archbishop of Canterbury.
1559 Book of Common Prayer revised. Elizabeth I reintroduces the surplice, explaining that it is a clergyman's uniform. The Black Rubric is gone. A special license is required to preach. There is no church music except metrical psalms sung to ballad tunes.
1560 Saints' days are reintroduced.
1560 John Jewel writes "An Apology for the Church of England". Rome, not England, is schismatic.
1563 Thirty-Nine Articles drafted as a doctrinal statement by a convocation of the Church of England.
1563 "Foxe's Book of Martyrs." The bishop of Rome is portrayed as the Antichrist; Foxe writes speeches as needed for such "Protestant martyrs" as Thomas Cromwell.
1568 Archbishop Parker produces the "Bishop's Bible".

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