To What extent was the Edwardian reformation protestant?

Essay by simonjmcCollege, UndergraduateC+, April 2004

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To What extent was the Edwardian reformation protestant?

By the end of Henry VIII's reign, religion within England was stranded mid-way between the competing belief systems of Catholicism and reform. Events within Europe had begun to influence thinking within England, the war between Charles V and the Schmalkaldic League was one such of these events, with which came new influence.

Edward VI was king of England and along with his protectors Somerset and Northumberland reformed the country with what is now named the Edwardian reformation. But what were the motives for such radical changes, were they exclusively religious, protestant, or were other factors involved in such a radical period in English history?

During the early years of Edward VI's reign, lord Somerset was appointed protector and governor by the king's council. In these costly years Somerset went about waging war upon Scotland, debasing the coinage in the process, which led to inflation.

Somerset also introduced further poverty and vagrancy upon the people of England through his wasteful and expensive policies. Somerset's policies as far as religion was concerned, edged towards a cautious move to a protestant position. Historian John Guy describes Somerset's religious policy as 'chaotic'. This was because he felt that Somerset was making reforms at too fast a pace and with great severity. However in contrast historian Diarmaid MacCulloch states that religious policy under the ruling of Edward VI was always 'idealistic, consistent, and effective'. Diarmaid however agrees with John Guy partly stating, the Edwardian reformation was 'definitively protestant'.

Under Somerset some supporters adopted a more radical alternative, but Somerset for political reasons took a bipartisan approach, trying to remain on both the Catholics and Protestants side. This makes accessing the Protestantism of the reformation difficult. Somerset focused on attacking the sacraments to keep the majority, while advancing...