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Account for the popularity of the Pre-Reformation Church.

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Darren Harnett Account for the Popularity of the Pre-Reformation Church. The pre-reformation church had many strengths and criticisms that would have made it popular with some people but not so popular with others. Most people had grown up with the church and for them it was part of their lifestyle but this meant that some people went to church through habit rather than faith. This doesn't make the church unpopular though as it meant people were going to church and obeying it. At a sermon in convocation, 1511, John Colet attacked what he saw as the main problems with the church. Mainly he criticised the clergy for greed and being immoral in a quest to gain power. He also said, about the clergy, that they were "greedy and covetous, and took too much interest in worldly affairs". Although this gave a low opinion of the clergy, Colet's points were generalised and exaggerated. Yet it did show that there were people out there that didn't like the church, therefore showing some unpopularity. Absenteeism was a problem in the pre-reformation church and there were many cases of it in the church. ...read more.


A victim of the Reformation was the monastery. At the time of the reformation Thomas Cromwell had many checks on the monasteries carried out. However, he made sure that the monasteries were given poor reports. But in the 1520's the monasteries seemed to have little opposition and there were very few scandals within them. The Pilgrimage of Grace, in 1536, showed that the monasteries were popular. In 1514 the Hunne Case clearly undermined the church and is well quoted as 'cause celebre'. Richard Hunne was imprisoned after heretical books were found at his home. And before he was put on trial he died suspiciously. Two clergymen were accused of killing Hunne but were never brought to trial and this made the church unpopular as they were seen to be protecting their own. This case has always been used in arguments against the popularity of the church but there were never any riots or protests against the church because of the 'Hunne Case'. Heresy was a minor problem in England with groups like the Lollards. The Lollards were only ever a fringe group and never had much support. ...read more.


Also most churches underwent some kind of building work, whether it was an extension or an improvement, during 1500 to 1530, something that would not have happened if people were not attending the churches. In support of the pre-reformation church being strong are the revisionist historians, Haigh and Scarisbrick. A quote by Scarisbrick is 'on the whole, English men and women did not want the Reformation and most of them were slow to accept it when it came'. This supports the opinion of the church being popular before the reformation. Haigh quoted 'The Henrician Reformation when it came was not the product of long standing discontent with the church ...it was a crisis which blew up out of nothing'. This shows that the reformation was not required because the people thought the church was unpopular therefore meaning that people liked the church. Dickens and Elton criticised the church and believed that it was unpopular. Elton criticised the clergy when he said, 'People in England thought little of Priests'. This was saying that public opinion of the clergymen was very low suggesting that they were unhappy with the clergy. But there is evidence to prove Elton right, such as pluralism, simony and absenteeism, done by the clergy, being unpopular. ...read more.

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