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In order to assess how Protestant England was at the cessation of Edward's reign it is essential to ascertain a method of measuring Protestantism, dependent on doctrine, practices, policies and aesthetics.

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Introduction

In order to assess how Protestant England was at the cessation of Edward's reign it is essential to ascertain a method of measuring Protestantism, dependent on doctrine, practices, policies and aesthetics. By the death of Edward in 1553, England was an officially Protestant country inasmuch as its Church was under the supreme headship of the monarch "so far as Christ would allow" since 1531. Whilst it was doctrinally and aesthetically similar to other Reforming countries such as Switzerland and Germany, despite being universally enforced, progress was gradual, uneven and some Catholic practices were still maintained. The aims of Edward's religious policies were twofold; he proposed to establish a concrete set of rules for English Protestants, thus ending the religious confusion of Henry VIII's reign, and to destroy the Catholic appearance of the churches through the destruction of all decoration and the "Popish ceremonies". The aesthetic result was to create barren churches with few rituals. Edward's Reformation, its impact and popularity, has generated a great amount of scholastic debate especially in recent years. Traditionally, historians such as Elton and Dickens claimed that Edward's reign sustained a popular Reformation of a thoroughly mercenary and corrupt Church, Dickens arguing that even during Mary's reign "the forest of Protestantism was spreading relentlessly across the landscape of the nation". The majority of these views were distorted with retrospect of Elizabeth's rule and propaganda, and in some cases latent or overt Protestant bias. The initial assumption that England was a country on an irrecoverable journey to full Protestantism that was compounded by Edward's religious reforms was reconsidered by Revisionist in light of rediscovered evidence such as parish records and wills. ...read more.

Middle

In addition, images, Stations of the Cross, statues and stained glass windows depicting saints were remove, all of which were the focus of Catholic prayer and services. These Injunctions were rigorously enforce and left previously grand surroundings austere, signaling palpable change due to abstract concepts even at the lowest level. The Chanteries Act, most of which were abolished in 1547, enjoyed a revival, although this time it was not just for fiscal reasons but was intended to be a very definite and bold statement against the Catholic tradition of the intermediate stage of purification after death, Purgatory. This momentous gesture confirmed the Government's stance on Purgatory from implicit disapproval during Henry's reign to an outright rebuke of prayers for the dead, confraternities, colleges, donations, land endowments and requiems. Jordan considers this as "probably the most shattering and irreversible action of the reformation in England" as it had a significant impact on fearful Catholics who depended upon it and was never fully reconfirmed during the Marian Reformation. These orders were continually revised and enacted throughout Edward's administration, Visitation Injunctions continually monitored churches and demanded that all Catholic paraphernalia be destroyed. In December, not only were foreign Protestant officially granted the right to establish congregations in London but the Act of Uniformity was introduced and enforced Cramner's Book of Common Prayer in English as prescribed as litany in 1549. It met an ambivalent reception as it intended to appease both religious factions rather than represent what he truly believed. Although it did not include his Calvinist beliefs, Catholics such as Bonner and Tunstall complained it was implicitly Protestant whilst Protestants claimed it smacked of Popery. ...read more.

Conclusion

There were obvious aesthetic differences, such as the removal of altars, rood screens and images, and after 1540 less money was spent on Church goods, the "old world was already losing its enchantment" (MacCulloch) although this may have possibly been linked to the increased number of visitations. The Edwardian Reformation was relatively bloodless, with only extreme groups of Protestants, the Anabaptists, burnt. Somerset and Northumberland built reforms on legislation stretching back to 1533, yet the brevity of Edward's reign prevented drastic policies, such as the Prayer Books and Acts of Uniformity, from being enforced. Remnants of Catholicism remained and nominal Protestantism was common as Tudor people were inherently conservative, "Catholic practices retained their vitality...(and parishioners were) reluctant to implement any religious changes" (Hutton). People thought that these measures were temporary "for many permanent schism was inconceivable" (Scarisbrick). Whilst the Reformation could survive Somerset's death and conservative attempts to take control, it was wholly dependent on the King. After Mary ascended to the throne in 1553, with Parliament full support she was able to quickly dismantle Henry's and Edward's Reformation as it was, according to Scarisbrick and Haigh, deeply unpopular. The celerity and success of the Marian restoration is a testament to the support of Catholicism. However, the 1552 Forty-Two Articles consequently became the basis for Elizabeth's Thirty-Nine Articles and chantries were never again restored in England. Catholicism itself, despite Mary's and James II's attempts, was never fully reinstated as England's official religion. How far was England a Protestant country by 1553? ...read more.

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