The State of the Pre-Reformation Church Essays

The State of the Pre-Reformation Church Essays

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The State of the Pre-Reformation Church

There are various ideas about the state of the church before the
Reformation. Some individuals say that the church was still
considered to be a pillar of hope and comfort for the English people
to look up to and gain reassurance from in the 1500s. Others however
say that the church was in a horrific state, promoting wrong doing and
malevolence. The question to be further considered is whether the
church during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries
fulfilled its functions while keeping the good English people
satisfied.

It has been argued that the pre-reformation church was a corrupt and
failing institution and therefore Henry had to totally overthrow the
running of the church and appoint himself as the Supreme Head in order
to reform church practice. Traditionally many historians have argued
that the people of the early sixteenth century agreed with Henry in
his decision because the church in England was a deeply unpopular
institution. Anti-clericalism according to this line of argument was
widespread. As G R Elton puts it, "People in England thought little of
Priests".

The clergy were widely despised. At the top, Archbishops and Bishops
were disliked for their wealth and ostentation with Wolsey being an
obvious example. He was never seen without fine clothes and expensive
jewellery and had several homes - Hampden Court being his prominent
residence. This was in sharp contrast to the example set by Jesus in
the New Testament, even if the people didn’t understand the bible as
it was in Latin, they would have been able to draw comparisons with
their own existence with...


... middle of paper ...


...y, for fear of rebellion and losing favor. The only way that
these people would start to understand the true state of the church
would be if it was published by a person against the Catholic Church,
but, with many people literate, reliance would have had to be
emphasized on word of mouth.

The exactions of the church were also bitterly resented and created
disharmony during the reign of Henry VIII. Most obvious was the tithe
whereby each man had to pay / of his annual income to the church. But
there were other payments too. Priests could charge for weddings,
churchings, confessions and taking communion to the sick. There were
also mortuary fees and charges for funerals, which would frequently
take the form of the best animal or gown. If you wanted to go to
Heaven after death, paying for these masses was essential.

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