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Catholic Church in early 1500.

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Introduction

By the 16th century the church as an institution was starting to 'crumble' and many of its people, Protestants and the reformation party were starting to put pressure on the church for a change. Although the main reason for the reformation was Henry VIII's divorce from Catharine of Aragon, I believe that the church was failing in some of its duties even though many criticisms and ideas were exaggerated. The church clergy was under enormous pressure, they had gained a bad reputation according to many as encouraging superstition merely for greed and many neglected their duties. Many contradicted the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church and this was dangerous as the church meant a lot to the majority of the people living in England. As G.R Elton puts it, "People in England thought little of priests". Many clergy were despised of their wealth and ostentation and Wosley became an obvious example. Not only was he never seen without fine clothes or expensive jewellery, he had several homes - Hampden Court being his most prominent residence. This was a very different contrast to that of Jesus in the New Testament. ...read more.

Middle

John Wycliffe was an example who attacked the church for its wealth, greed and superstitious practises. He started the Lollard movement which collapsed after many were executed for their heretical beliefs and attitudes against the church. Richard Hunne was another case in which he was prosecuted after refusing to pay mortuary dues after his baby son died. This case lead too much debate in anti-clericalism and this alerted those educated in the Church. After a combination of criticism regarding the church many humanists of the renaissance picked up on the weak points of the church and used anti-clerical insults to attack the church as they were unhappy with the educational standards of the clergy. If we look at revisionist views of the pre-reformation church, men like J.J. Scarisbrick and C. Harper-Bill now argue that by the standards of the time the church in the late 15th and early 16th century was actually doing a reasonable good job. According to Scarisbrick the bishops of the church were, "fairly conscientious men trying to do a conscientious job". There is plenty of evidence to support their dedication to pastoral work and the fact that many of them took their jobs seriously. ...read more.

Conclusion

We also must consider that both Protestants and the reformation party were deliberately looking for corruption in the church as they wanted a change. Many of these opinions were bias and some were even exaggerated over time. Statistics from the diocese from Norwich show that 90% left the church wills which show that the church was getting support from the people. The educational standards also showed an increase from 8% to 42% between 1370-1532. This actually shows that the church was improving in many ways and listening to views of reform and improvement given by the people. In conclusion, I have found from my studies of the Catholic Church in early 1500 that the church was corrupt in many ways even though some of these ideas were exaggerated and bias. I agree in various ways with the argument although one must consider that many criticisms were from those who wanted change and therefore, picked on 'weak' areas of the church to attack. The church was an important institution to the people and therefore it was important for the clergy to follow the ways in which the Bible teaches and to maintain Catholic traditions. 1 Page ...read more.

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