The English Reformation: History and Timeline

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  • 0:02 Reformation Roller Coaster
  • 0:28 Henry VIII - A Break with Rome
  • 2:27 Edward VI - Protestant…
  • 3:35 Mary I - Catholic to the Core
  • 4:28 Elizabeth I -…
  • 6:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will examine the English Reformation of the 16th century. Using a timeline, we will explore its motivations, major leaders, and development.

Reformation Roller Coaster

The Protestant Reformation in England was like a giant roller coaster ride - up and down, back and forth, Catholic to Protestant and back again, over and over. This lesson will hit the high points of the English Reformation and examine its motivations, major leaders, and development by presenting a timeline. So, hang on for a wild ride of climbs and drops and twists and turns.

Henry VIII - A Break with Rome

  • 1527-1529 - In these years, King Henry VIII became more and more dissatisfied with his wife, Catherine of Aragon. She had produced no male heirs that would continue his dynastic line, and the king often wondered if their marriage was even valid. Catherine was the widow of Henry's brother, and the Catholic Church had provided a special dispensation so that they could marry. Now, however, Henry was concerned, and he appealed to Rome for an annulment that would allow him to remarry. The pope declined, maintaining that Henry and Catherine's marriage was valid and binding. Henry, however, was determined to get his way, for he had fallen in love with a young woman named Anne Boleyn, and he was set on marrying her.
  • 1529 - Henry gave up on Rome and pressured the English bishops to annul his marriage to Catherine, which they did. Henry quickly married Anne Boleyn.
  • 1531 - The English clergy declared that Henry was the 'supreme head and protector' of the Church of England.
  • 1534 - In the Act of Supremacy, Parliament agreed with the clergy and declared Henry to be the 'supreme head of the church in England.' All English people had to offer their allegiance to Henry in that capacity. The break with Rome was complete. Henry had now taken the place of the pope for the English Church.
  • 1536 - The Act of Dissolution closed 560 English monasteries and gave their land and holdings to the king.
  • 1539 - The Six Articles defined the doctrine and practice of the English Church. They retained many Catholic elements, including a celibate clergy, the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and the practice of confession. Henry, however, remained the head of the church.
  • 1547 - Henry VIII died.

Edward VI - Protestant to the Core

  • 1547 - Henry's son, Edward VI, took the throne. He was Protestant to the point of being a fanatic, and his father's Six Articles were quickly sent out the door.
  • 1548 - Images and many Catholic symbols, including the crucifix and holy water, were removed from English churches.
  • 1549 - The Book of Common Prayer was introduced. This book presented the religious services in English rather than Latin, and established a simpler liturgy that was more like Lutheran worship.
  • 1549 - A new Act of Uniformity required everyone to use the Book of Common Prayer. England was fast becoming more and more Protestant.
  • 1552 - The Book of Common Prayer received revision that stripped it of more Catholic elements, including mention of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sign of the cross, clerical vestments, and prayers for the dead.
  • 1553 - Edward VI, who was always sickly, died.

Mary I - Catholic to the Core

  • 1553 - Queen Mary I took the throne. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and staunchly Catholic in her beliefs and practices. She quickly reinstated Catholicism in England.
  • 1554 - The Roman Catholic Church formally received England back into its fold.
  • 1554 - Mary married Philip of Spain, cementing an alliance with the devout Catholic country.
  • 1555-1558 - During these years, about 287 Protestants were killed as the queen tried to rid the country of Protestant influence. In doing so, she earned the nickname 'Bloody Mary.' The queen also battled with Parliament to repeal the pro-Protestant laws passed during the reigns of her father and brother. She was ultimately successful.
  • 1558 - Queen Mary died.

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