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Thomas Cromwell

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Rowan
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Thomas Cromwell

Post by Rowan » Tue October 19th, 2010, 7:10 pm

While on my last visit to England, my friend gave me her copy of Dissolution by CJ Sansom. I've just now gotten around to reading it. It's a fictional murder mystery set during the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The bit I read during my lunch period seemed to indicate that Cromwell was a rather unsavoury character. I confess knowing little about the man so I decided to read a bit about him. I started with Wikipedia for the basics, but got side-tracked when I zipped down to the bottom of the article to read about his fall from grace. I'd never heard of the Six Articles so I clicked on the link to read about it and there discovered information I'd never previously heard. Of course I know that we cannot take Wikipedia at its word, so I tried searching for other information about the Six Articles and didn't find this information included. So I thought I'd come to my #1 authority on all things history and here I am.

The Wikipedia entry on the Six Articles stated that when the leading clergy of England were ready to break with the Roman Catholic Church, they did not want to join with the Protestants, but favoured joining with the Eastern Orthodox (Greek) Church. Is this true?

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Post by Vanessa » Tue October 19th, 2010, 10:20 pm

Interesting, but I haven't a clue! All I know is that Henry VIII wanted to be head of the church so he could divorce his wife(ves)!
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Post by annis » Wed October 20th, 2010, 1:20 am

In the Act of the Six Articles 1539 Henry VIII moved away from previous reforms to a more Catholic orthodox stance. I t was considered something of a blow for Cromwell, who was a strong supporter of Protestant reformation.

The Act gave legal and penal authority to a set of highly reactionary statements on issues of church belief and practice. The Six Articles upheld

(a) the catholic doctrine of transubstantiation;
(b) the view that one need not receive both bread and wine in the communion;
(c) the obligation of priests to remain celibate;
(d) the binding character of vows of chastity;
(e) private masses; and
(f) auricular confession.

Bishops Shaxton of Salisbury and Latimer of Worcester resigned their sees in protest. The passing of the Act seems to have resulted from a temporary ascendancy in the king's council of conservative opponents of Thomas Cromwell, especially the duke of Norfolk and Bishop Stephen Gardiner. It was repealed in the first Parliament of Edward VI in 1547.


there's more info here in this article about Religion and Henry VIII
http://www.britannia.com/history/articles/relpolh8.html

I hadn't come across the idea of an alliance with the Eastern Orthodox Church before - interesting! Maybe it seemed more in line with traditional Roman Catholic doctrine than the more radical German Protestantism which was another option.
Last edited by annis on Wed October 20th, 2010, 5:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by SGM » Wed October 20th, 2010, 6:03 am

The secret with Wikipedia is to look at the references cited.

The only one in that article that I recognise is Chadwick (which I have but have not had a chance to refer to yet -- I will do that later today).

At a quick glance Elton (my first port of call for matters Tudor) does not seem to have much to say about the Six Articles. For such matters, I usually refer to the Clare Cross book but as I cannot lay my hand on it quickly, I can't remember whether it covers the Tudor arrangments but I will peruse it later today.

Unfortunately, the CoE, however important to English history, is not part of my cultural tradition so I don't have a native feel for it. And it all gets much more confusing under Edward and Elizabeth with the 49 Articles and then the 47 Articles etc etc.

It should not be forgotten that there was an English Protestant movement that was not all about Henry's marital relationships and more similar to those of Continental Europe. But I always look on the CoE being uniquely English and the English Reformation was very different to the Scottish Reformation.
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Post by annis » Wed October 20th, 2010, 6:26 am

This article on the history of the Anglican Church makes the interesting point that Henry VIII's desire for independence from the Roman Catholic Church was not just about the desire to get a divorce so he could remarry, but a continuation of a ongoing conflict between Church and State which was almost part of English tradition.

http://www.anglican.org/church/ChurchHistory.html

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Post by SGM » Wed October 20th, 2010, 11:23 am

This is one of the "big" topics of English history and cannot be summed up in a couple of paragraphs. If you wish to understand this issue, you should chose your sources carefully. However, although some may be of a certain age there are a number of exceptinally reputable sources easily available.

G R Elton (even if Wiki does rather patronising state that his views are "no longer orthodoxy) would be very high on the list.

Claire Cross - Church and People 1450 to 1660.

Owen Chadwick's writings on the Reformation - may not be an easy read but provide a scholarly background.

Smith's The Emergence of a Nation State provides and easy to follow account of the religious and constitutional events in the creation of the political nation.

What you should not forget is that before the issue of his divorce Henry VIII was granted the title of "Defender of the Faith".

Existence of the Lollard movement and the spread of Lutheranism within the English population before the break with Rome.

The political situation in Europe - the Vatican v The Holy Roman Emperor who happened to be closely related to Katherine of Aragon. If the Vatican had not at the time been besieged by the Emperor, Henry may very well have got his marriaged anulled or been granted a divorce.

The Erastianianism - the belief that the church should be controlled by state authority.

Developments in the time of Edward VI and eventually the Elizabethan settlement which created a church that was Protestant in theology but retained much of the familiar ceremony of pre-reformation times.

Article 1 of the six articles regarding transubstantiation would be a crucial focal point in later years.

Of course, in the 17th century these matters would also prove to be a flashpoint leading up to and during the civil war, ie Cromwell (Oliver not Thomas) and the concept of the unfinished reformation.

Comparison with Scotland is exceptionally useful in adding one's understanding. Comparison with Louis XIV's relationship with Rome in the 17th century is also useful (ie France still remained Catholic but did not acknowledge Vatican's right to interfere in matters of the French state) - John Miller - Bourbon and Stuart.
Last edited by SGM on Wed October 20th, 2010, 12:39 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by Rowan » Wed October 20th, 2010, 5:27 pm

Thanks for all of your further responses. I returned to the linked Wikipedia article to check for any sources. I am so used to not seeing any sources or [citation needed] that when there's actually something there, I overlook it.

The information regarding a potential alignment with the Greek Orthodox Church over the Protestant Church seems to have come from The Reformation In England, Volume 2 Book 3. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust.

It seems plausible that the clergy would have wanted to align the country with the GOC over the Protestants because GOC is more in line with what they already believed/practiced under the Roman Catholic Church and that's as radical as anyone was willing to venture.

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Post by SGM » Wed October 20th, 2010, 5:34 pm

[quote=""Rowan""]Thanks for all of your further responses. I returned to the linked Wikipedia article to check for any sources. I am so used to not seeing any sources or [citation needed] that when there's actually something there, I overlook it.[/quote]

I take much of Wiki with a pinch of salt and use them more for the references they provide than their actual text. I find the discusions between the contributors far more interesting than the article itself. Next time you visit Wiki select the discussion rather than the article tab. For example, go to their Charles I article/discussion and you might see what I mean, particularly the (quite correct in my opinion) comment in that instance about the sources the writer has failed to use.
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Post by annis » Wed October 20th, 2010, 6:18 pm

Posted by Rowan
It seems plausible that the clergy would have wanted to align the country with the GOC over the Protestants because GOC is more in line with what they already believed/practiced under the Roman Catholic Church and that's as radical as anyone was willing to venture.
I think that for Henry VIII the issue was always less about changing the structure of the Catholic faith as practiced and more about eliminating Papal interference in matters of state. Of course, getting access to the wealth tied up in Church property didn't hurt! Also, for a monarch the radical nature of German Protestantism would have been a bit concerning - it's only a small step from deciding you don't need a Pope as Head of the Church to deciding you don't need a king as the Head of State. Henry's aim was not to lessen his power but increase it by taking the role of Head of Church out of foreign (papal) hands and making his own role a dual one as Head of both State and Church in England.

I'm reading an interesting novel at the moment - The Courier's Tale by Peter Walker. It covers the years leading up to the split from Rome from the perspective of a young nobleman who acts as messenger between Thomas Cromwell in England and Reginald Pole, Henry's advocate in Rome.
Last edited by annis on Thu October 21st, 2010, 7:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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