How Did The Religion Of England Change During The Tudor Period, and What Were The Reasons?

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How Did The Religion Of England Change During The Tudor Period, and What Were The Reasons?

Most of England were Roman Catholic and accepted the Pope as the Head of the Church, but in the 16th century, Christians worshipped God in many different ways. A breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings and its customs, in 1517, by a German monk called Martin Luther; lead to a new Christian Religion - Protestant; and during the Tudor Reign, the throne was changed from Catholic to Protestant, then back to Catholic, then Protestant again; and so the people in the 16th century were forced to change their religion depending on the reigning monarch.


Henry VIII – Catholic
Henry VIII was a devout Catholic King, therefore his country was too. He disagreed with all Protestant views, and defended the Catholic Church. However, that all changed...
When Henry VIII asked the Pope for a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, the Pope refused, because the Catholics did not believe in divorce; because of this, Henry VIII broke from The Roman Catholic Church in 1527, and became a Protestant. He claimed the title of Head of The Church of England, so now the Pope had no power over him, and he could divorce Catherine of Aragon.
He wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon for several reasons. The main one being that she did not produce a male heir to the throne of England, and that according to a curse in the bible, ‘if a man should take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing… they will be childless’; and because Catherine had previously been married to Arthur, Henry’s brother, this might come true. Another reason was that Henry wanted to marry Anne Boleyn, because she was young and beautiful, and Catherine was old and fat. This meant that Henry had to break from the church to allow himself a divorce.
Henry got the Bible translated into English, because he wanted the Bible in his Mother Tongue. In 1535 all Catholic Buildings (monasteries, etc.) in England, Wales and Scotland were closed down, because another of his problems was that he was bankrupt, and if he took over the monasteries, he would be rich. He was on the road to making England Protestant.
A lot of money was given to the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope, for chapels to be built and other Catholic ornaments, so the priests could pray for their souls to go to heaven. Henry passed a law against this, because this meant they were paying to go into heaven, and Protestants were supposed to believe that you could not buy your way to heaven through money or good works. The will of Richard Berne, London, 1525 - before the law was passed:

“My body is to be buried in the place near the chapel that I caused to be made in the south aisle of St Magnus’ Church….
For masses to be said in the church for my soul, my wife’s soul and all Christian souls, every month for one year after my death: £6
£100 towards the making of an altar table.”

However, even though Henry was a protestant, and had split from the Pope, England remained Catholic, until Henry died and his son became King.

Edward VI - Protestant
Henry's son, Edward, was brought up a strict Protestant, by his advisors, because his father had been a Protestant; and so England became a Protestant Nation.
He introduced a new prayer book; for the Church of England had no order of mass, and they needed one. Edward (the King himself did not really have any ideas, his advisors came up with them, and Edward put them into action) wanted to make the services plain, so that even a commoner could understand what was being said, the masses were said in plain English from then on, instead of English. Priests did not have to dress in the bright clothing associated with the Catholic Church and under Edward, they were allowed to marry. Edward passed a law for churches to be plain, without stained glass windows, pictures, and elaborate furniture. These changes were made, because all of these things were associated with Catholic Churches.
Catholics believed you could buy you way into heaven through good works, Indulgences, and prayers for your soul, and the Protestants didn’t, they believed your fate had already been decided, whether you were going to hell or heaven. So the symbolism of the Catholics spending a lot of money on interior, etc. was a way of them buying their way into heaven, and the Protestants didn’t believe in that, so their churches and masses were simple plain and not elaborate.

Mary I/Mary Queen of Scots – Catholic
England yet again, became a Catholic Country, under the rule of a very strict Roman Catholic. Mary changed a lot of things back to what it was in the early years of Henry VIII’s reign, when he was Catholic. She made the pope head of the church again, she changed all the services back to Latin, and brought back communion. All priests had to be Catholic, and the simple, Protestant furniture was replaced by colourful, ornate Catholic furniture and paintings. The English prayer book was banned, along with Holy Communion. She also burned over 300 Protestants at the stake, because they would not become Catholic.
Mary I made all of these changes, because she had been brought up a very strict, devout Roman Catholic, and for the sake of her country, she wanted them to become Catholic like her. Mary I believed that Heretics would burn in hell, and thought she was saving her people and their souls, if she made everyone convert to Catholicism again.

Elizabeth I – Protestant
Under Elizabeth’s rule, England was a Protestant country – she did not like to be known as ‘the Head of the Church of England’, but instead, preferred 'Supreme Governor of the English Church'. Elizabeth resurrected many of the Protestant beliefs and customs, but allowed Catholics to worship, bishops, ordained priests, church decorations and priests' vestments. Catholic Church services were said in English, the prayer book was in English, though she did allow Latin versions to be printed.
England was a Protestant country, because Elizabeth had been raised a Protestant, and wanted to bring back the Protestant customs her half brother had put in place, before Mary had taken them away. She believed strongly in her faith, but allowed Catholics to worship, and their customs, because Elizabeth did not want England to be divided over Religion.
The difference, though, between Elizabeth and her older sister, Mary, is that Elizabeth allowed her people to choose what religion they wanted to be, without fear of being punished for their decision. Elizabeth was kind to people and respected their religious decisions. She was also like more than Mary, by her people, because of this freedom of choice.

During the 118 years, of Tudor reign, many people were killed – they were hanged or burnt at the stake – because of their religion and that they were prepared to die for it. Laws were passed telling people what religion you had to be, and how you decorate churches.

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