How far was England Protestant by 1553?
By 1553, England was to a great extent far more Protestant than ever despite some opposition which I believe is inevitable when it comes to something so central to the lives of everybody in England i.e. religion. It was under the Protectorate of Northumberland that the rate of reform rapidly increased as a result of Northumberland’s approach to religion which was much more open to change as opposed to the cautious and anxious approach that Somerset took. Under Somerset’s Protectorate England remained in a stagnant state of imbalance which satisfied neither Catholics nor Protestants. However, it could be argued that the First Prayer Book of 1949 launched the reform forward in favour of Protestantism as Conservative figures such as Gardiner had given their assent to the book and esssentially accepted that the country was moving towards Protestantism. Although the production of this prayer book was one of the main grievances of the Western rebels which implies that not everybody had so easily given in to the imminent approach of Protestantism and Catholicism was still favoured among the common people. It would seem that the elite and the less educated clergy were open to reform and had accepted it whereas the common people, to whom religion is central to their lives and popular culture, were less ready to accept radical reform. Nevertheless the Book of Common Prayer was the only significant shift towards Protestantism around 1549 but even this was unsatisfactory and the majority of complaints about this book came not from Catholics, but Protestants who demanded a ‘more protestant’ prayer book. This suggests an increasing amount of support for reform initiating more radical changes which happened under Northumberland’s Protectorate. Under Northumberland, more physcial changes happened such as Cranmer’s Ordinal which changed the role of priests and indicated a clear move away from the Catholic priest to the Protestant...
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