Explain the role played by the Duke of Northumberland in the Edwardian religious reforms of 1550-1553

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Explain the role played by the Duke of Northumberland in the Edwardian religious reforms of 1550-1553 (12)

When John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, gained power in 1550 after the fall of Somerset, religious reform in England and Wales became more radical. Some historians say that Northumberland advanced Protestantism not because he was a great reformer but to advance his career. Since Northumberland had gained power because of the Reform faction, he had to deliver greater reform. AGR Smith said Northumberland’s religious settlement, “…committed England clearly and unequivocally to the Protestant camp.”

Up to 1552 a number of ceremonial changes were made with a more Protestant form of worship and belief being established after 1552. In 1550 Bishop Ridley of London carried out a campaign to move altars away from the east end of churches and into the nave where they were used as communion tables. This was designed to stress that Christ was not actually present under the forms of bread and wine in the Eucharist ceremony, in line with the teachings of the Calvinists and other reformed churches. In January 1552, to enforce doctrinal uniformity, a new Treason Act was passed which made it an offence to question any of the articles of faith of the Church of England.        

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The centrepiece of Northumberland and Cranmer’s religious reforms was introduced in 1552: the Second Book of Common Prayer. It became the official basis for church services and had to be used by both clergy and laity. Its teachings included a Eucharist ceremony in line with Calvin’s belief in a ‘spiritual presence’, the abolition of the Mass, replacing colourful robes with plain surplice and abolishing the sign of the cross at confirmation. Furthermore, the Eucharist was now called the Lord’s Supper and the wording of the service stressed the ceremony was a memorial service – Communicants took the bread in remembrance ...

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