The Break With Rome - the beginning of an English Reformation

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The Break With Rome - the beginning of an English Reformation

Why Henry broke with Rome is a cause of great controversy in Tudor history.

Whether this constituted a 'Reformation' is also a major historical hot potato. Here's what some historians have to say on the matter

In 1964 he wrote his The English Reformation which deliberately set out to explain and document how the Reformation was influenced, to a large extent, by the upsurges of support for the new Protestant ideas. He maintained that Lollardy had survived as a kind of underground movement.

He criticises Dickens saying that Dickens set out with a point to prove, and that in some way makes his research and conclusions invalid. He points to evidence that many English people were still attached to Catholicism.

Along with Haigh, he holds the view that the Reformation took a long time to take hold, right up to Elizabeth's reign.

"On the whole the, English men and women did not want the Reformation and most of them were slow to accept it when it came."

He holds the revisionist view that the Reformation was in no way inevitable. He maintains that there was not one 'English Reformation', but as series of political accidents, which if put together look like a Reformation.

In his book, The Blind Devotion of the People, he looks at the reactions of Devon and Cornwall to the religious changes that took place in the sixteenth century. He sees the Reformation in these areas as a very slow process, and in the final analysis some still clung to the old ways. Nevertheless, he sees the pre-Reformation church in a state of decline. From 1530 -1550 he sees an almost complete acceptance of the changes with people more content to keep their hard earned money in their pockets rather than give it to the church.

He maintains that grassroots change in religion was a result of the Reformation imposed from above. But the change was not radical, it didn't even take root under the reign of Edward VI.

"The Reformation in England was in two parts. Henry VIII achieved a political revolution in the government of the Church by instituting an autonomous English Church with himself as supreme head between 1533 and 1534. The movement for religious reformation also made slight headway while he was alive, but it took root during his son's reign."