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The English Reformation

The English Reformation came about as a result of many dovetailing forces. As is often the case with defining periods in history, timing was all-important as centuries of Catholic corruption collided with the onset of a "grand theological debate" across Europe, and the need for an English heir to the throne manifested in the indomitable will of one Henry VIII (Robinson). The Reformation in England was centuries in the making, though it was in the 1530s that the statutes of Henry VIII began to codify an official break with the papal authority of Rome. Of these statutes, the Act for Submission of the Clergy in 1532 set the tone and cleared a path for an Act of Succession and an Act of Supremacy in 1534, which taken together formalized the English monarchy's new identity: the King would now "exercise certain spiritual functions hitherto pertaining to the Papacy" (Dickens 119). The spirit of England would never be the same.

Putting the Act for Submission of the Clergy and the greater English Reformation into context requires a brief survey of the religious ebbs and flows washing over continental Europe during the early 1500s. At this time, humanists within the Catholic faith had begun to assert themselves, at once railing against Church corruption while simultaneously preaching reform from within the faith (Robinson). The English Reformation owes its existence in large part to the European Reformation, which in turn owes its existence to Martin Luther.

Among the most influential Germans to ever live, the impact of Martin Luther on 16th century Europe reverberated across time and distance. In 1517 when Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a door at the Wittenburg castle church, he advanced a notion that many would soon find appealing: that Christianity was deeply personal, that only total faith in Christ could assure salvation, and that a person need only the scriptures to achieve true faith and with it, redemption (Parker105-8)...

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The English Reformation. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:07, December 07, 2021, from