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What Was The Condition Of The Roman Catholic Church In England In 1529?

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Introduction

What Was The Condition Of The Roman Catholic Church In England In 1529? Many historians believe that the Roman Catholic Church was in a very poor condition by 1529. The spreading of Protestant beliefs and the fact that the Church was in a poor condition anyway led to a strong disliking for the Roman Catholic Church and its clergy. This made it relatively easy for Henry VIII to dissolve the church and replace it with his own. However, other historians think that the Roman Catholic Church was in a very healthy state and religious changes were the cause of a greedy king chasing a new mistress and the wealth of the monasteries. Neither of these theories suggest any weakness in the Roman Catholic Church but this is not surprising as the historians who had these theories were both Catholic priests. Many new ideas spread across Europe around 1529; mainly Lollard, Humanist and Lutheran ideas. These spread because many Catholics could not accept many of the Catholic teachings. For instance the existence of purgatory was troubling for many as this had not been mentioned in the Bible at all; many found the act of confessing ones sins deeply worrying, this led radicals such as Martin Luther to think about the practice. ...read more.

Middle

Protestant ideas began to pour over the border, several of the cantons broke from the Catholic Church and became Protestant while other cantons remained firmly Catholic. Of the cantons that adopted Luther's new movement, the most important and powerful was the city-state of Zurich under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli. He was popular in Zurich for his opposition to Swiss mercenary service in foreign wars and his attacks on indulgences; he was, as significant a player in the critique of indulgences as Luther himself. Zwingli rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church until he was appointed "People's Priest" in 1519, the most powerful ecclesiastical position in the city. In 1523, the city officially adopted Zwingli's central church reforms and became the first Protestant state outside of Germany. From there the Protestant revolution would sweep across Europe. The only individual that had a real influence over religious thinking was William Tyndale. He was strongly influenced by Lutheran ideas and was a powerful critic of the church, especially when it came to the practice of indulgences, low level of education of the clergy and the doctrine of purgatory. Tyndale was most influential with his translation of the New Testament into English. ...read more.

Conclusion

The monasteries had large resources and great wealth but they failed to play the part in educational, religious and welfare life of the country their numbers warranted. The abbots became a lot like rich aristocrats or gentry. Increasingly the feeling was that the monasteries were out of date as they had been founded in a very different age, one where there was much greater piety and religious zeal. The fact that Henry VIII was able to close them with such ease in the 1530s suggests that perhaps they no longer commanded as much respect or affection as they had done in the past. In conclusion the Catholic Church was a large and powerful organization, still fully accepted by the English people. There was open criticism in some areas of the church, especially the monasteries, however these criticisms were normally constructive and helped the church more than damaged it. Any opposition to the church was either swiftly dealt with by Henry VIII, who was a great follower of the church at the time, or did not fully surface until after England broke away form the church. Therefore it would be quite safe to say that the religious changes taking place in the 16th century were not due to the people's dissatisfaction with the church. ...read more.

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