After the break with Rome.
Henry VIII (r1509 -1547) established himself as Supreme head of the Church of England but he might as well said it was the Catholic Church in England. His break with the papacy was just that as Henry subsumed to himself the role of the Pope and the church continued for several years in its old ways and with its usual doctrines. This included ceremony that was `popish` , and persecution of the people for heresy as deemed by the Catholic church. In fact, from 1521-1571 the country was in turmoil brought about by the uncertainty of its leaders. It was now that Cranmer made a major contribution to the Reformation by imposing his own philosophy and belief in biblical guidance. In so doing he brought order and continuity to bear when the fragile Church of
England was subject to further review in the short reign
of Edward VI (Protestant,1547-1553).
In the aftermath of the divorce and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII was for a time still supportive of a relatively quiescent catholic clergy but they did not long remain so. The prelates continued to slyly pursue heresy and harass the populace, and especially attacked any new books of which they did not approve. On 8 January 1536 Catharine of Arragon died, and Anne Boleyn was taken to the Tower and executed on 19 May. Henry then confounded hopeful prelates by marrying Lady Jane Seymour who soon bore the son Henry so needed, the Prince Edward.
On a domestic level it can be seen that Henry was many times diverted from pursuing change, and that it had to be done slowly in order to take the people with him. He began by creating a Book of Articles in 1536 setting out his views on a Christian creed, and followed it up with a reduction of Holy Days, especially around harvest time that interfered with gathering in the produce. Other injunctions followed against images, relics, blind miracles, and against pilgrimages. His trusty vice regent, Thomas Cromwell, meanwhile promulgated the necessary laws and progressed the dissolution of the monasteries. Most importantly for the Reformation Henry required the Paternoster, Creed, God`s Commandments, and the Bible to be in English.
1536 was not a good year as it also saw the execution of Tyndale in Belgium and two risings of the populace over religion. These were in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire which were stirred up by priests and friars making exaggerated claims about what would happen to the church and the people under the new order.The risings were suppressed and many clerics and their supporters, including some nobles and gentlemen, were executed. A turn for the better was the birth of Prince Edward in October 1537, sadly followed by the death of his mother just twelve days later. Abroad Henry was being given much disservice by Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, who despite his oath of allegiance was still an ardent papist. The death of Jane had an impact on the European kings, particularly France, who reacted to the possibility that Henry might align himself with Germany by another marriage. As it happened, this was part of Cromwell`s foreign policy to strengthen Protestant ties, but in the event, it was also his undoing.
Under pressure from the prelates and particularly the insidious advice of Gardiner, Henry was swayed for a while to allow some of the church of Rome`s cherished doctrines to continue. The Act of Six Articles (also known as `The Whip with Six Strings`) in 1539 was allegedly in the support of `unity` but it was one huge step backwards, aiming as it did to reinforce transubstantiation – the main doctrinal weapon against alleged heretics; the continuation of the mass; and auricular confession. The Act was repealed in 1545. Even the provision of the English Bible was stopped for a while because of the intervention of Gardiner and his cohort William Bonner, Bishop of Hereford then of London.
The Reformation suffered an outright
assault by Mary Tudor (Catholic 1553-1558) in which over twelve hundred pastors were deposed and some three hundred Protestants experienced death at the stake because of their stand for the truth.