The Literary Boom: Forms of Early Religious Vernacular Texts in England (c. 1475-1570)

copyright 1993 by the author. For more information on this, see the copyright statement on my projects page.

I. Introduction

...I thank God that [all of] you have tarried here so long./ Now each of you place your hand on this cross/and quickly follow me/ for I go to where I [should] be./ God [will] be our guide.... [1]

"And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright!/ Mirrour of grace and Majestie divine,/ Great Ladie of the greatest Isle.....[2]

English vernacular literature shifted its focus between 1475 and 1570 as the passages above illustrate. In the first passage, "Everyman", a representative allegorical figure, finds his way to Heaven with the aid of his "Good Deeds" and an angel. In the second passage from the Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser invokes the aid of his queen, Elizabeth I, to insure the success of his work. A clear difference exists between these passages and their religious orientations. The Everyman passage came from a traditional Catholic context. Spenser's imagery, on the other hand, resulted from his exposure to the Elizabethan Church and its doctrines. What had caused this difference in these works? Who stood to benefit from this change? Finally, why did everything change in the literary world? In confronting this issue, the scholar should immediately consider the effects of the Reformation on English literature in this period. In this regard, Patrick Collinson suggested that:

The question 'from above or from below' cannot be tidily resolved. Both perceptions are equally valid and explanations of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation which focus on high politics and on underlying sentiments and conditions are both necessary, the conditions are both necessary, the essential fabric of the story consisting in the multiple interactions between the higher and lower historical strata....[3]

Collinson, in this quotation, discusses an essential relationship between the "higher strata", the kings and their translators who provided the vernacular scriptures and the "lower strata", the nonlatinate commonality who could read English and wanted to interpret the Bible for themselves. This process certainly needed both sides' support in order to work efficiently. Indeed, as shall be seen below, this relationship fared differently from monarch to monarch and, as for example under Henry VIII, from year to year. Still, Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I were interested in implementing vernacular religion in England. To this end, these monarchs passed laws providing for a Bible to be placed in each parish church. This opportunity provided an opening for lay people to gather their own religious ideas and feelings on various issues. This new religious thought produced a vast array of literature.

However, many obstacles slowed this progression. The royal government passed various legislative acts in order to define and control this literary expansion. In the countryside, the clergy, either due to recusancy or illiteracy, failed to facilitate this process. Most importantly, many people remained illiterate and therefore, were unable to participate in the new Protestant religion whose emphasis lay with the written word rather than the traditional image. As a result, many villages retained their Catholicism for longer periods than other English areas. [4] These issues slowed the progression of the vernacular scriptures and other related texts and therefore, many communities remained at various stages of transition between the traditional iconographic Roman Catholic culture and the newer literary Protestant culture.

This paper, therefore, proposes to track this process from its origins deep within the traditional Catholic order right up to the eve of Puritanism in the 1570's. Certainly, this transformation was not a simple cut and dry progression due to the reasons described above in addition to the various continental influences which shaped its progression. Because of this complexity, an author has to set markers at certain points along the trail so as not to lose his readers. Along these lines, I chose to highlight the following points: the late medieval origins of this process and the subsequent rise of lay religiosity, the coming of the vernacular Bible, the monarchs' restraints on their subjects' scriptural reading and finally, the various forms and shapes in which the religious propagandists promoted this "literary boom" to the English people. Through such a study, this paper hopes to illustrate the initial spurt of Protestant literature in all of its various forms during the sixteenth century.

II. Section I: The Late Medieval Background and the Formation of a Lay Religious Audience (1475-1525)

The vernacular Bible of the sixteenth century needed a preparatory period in order to succeed where earlier Lollard attempts had failed in the promotion of the vernacular reading of the Scriptures. But why did this movement succeed in the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries? The answer lies in a consideration of the following factors: the lay person's increasing participation in the Church's rites such as the Mystery Plays such as those performed at York, Wakefield and Townesley Hall in Lancashire [5], the experience of the churches' artwork and the increasing literacy rates among the lay commonality. While many of these factors had existed previously, the increase in literacy among the gentry and the merchants, although far from being a universal trait, combined with the factors described above and the fervent religiosity of these people, created the ideal situation for the introduction of a vernacular Bible and the related literature.

Holy Depictions: Drama and Art

Oral and visual mediums were necessary in the layman's scriptural understanding in the English Church before the arrival of Protestantism and universal popular literacy. This life revolved around the local church where one participated in its rites. One means of this practice involved listening to the priest's sermon. Another such tradition involved the layman in the partaking of the Sacraments. These rites, baptism, confirmation, marriage, penance, last rites and burial, combined to shape a parishioner's life from cradle to grave. [6] In addition to these basic facets of life, the medieval Catholic person also participated in other activities such as watching the Mystery Plays and experiencing religious artwork. Through these activities, the layperson received confirmation for the lessons which he had previously learned in his catechism.

The late medieval drama played an important role in bringing the layperson into contact with the Scriptures. Richard Rex summed up this process in the following manner:

...Outside the church, moreover stood a further dimension of religious instruction, the sacred drama of miracle and morality plays from which the English dramatic tradition in part descended. The great cycles that still survive from such towns as York, Wakefield, Coventry and Chester illustrate the range of religious teaching that this medium could handle....their performances must have been not only a highlight of popular entertainment but also an important vehicle by which the community expressed and passed on its religious ideals....[7]

These performances enforced the teaching of these scriptural themes through performances in two different styles of Biblical interpretation. The first method is through the "morality theme" where a character faced a catharsis in his life as he prepares for death and to meet his maker [8]. Everyman provides us with an example of such a dramatic piece. In this work, the title character, "Everyman" needs to perform a last minute penance in order to balance his soul's "ledger" with God's book [9]. By watching a performance such as this one, the Christian man realized that he too would one day face Death and accordingly, they kept doing their penances and went to Church regularly so that they would not be in the same dire straits which this character found himself in [10]. The other dramatic style involved the dramatic depiction of various Biblical scenes. These plays, such as The Fall of Man, Cain and Abel and Noah's Ark, brought the clergy's descriptions of these Biblical scenes to life for the parishioners [11]. In addition, sometimes these performances often poked fun at these events. A good example of this dramatic type is the Second Shepherd's Play. This play, a piece based on the Nativity, brought this event down to the parishioners' level of understanding. Instead of the Three Wise Men, for example, this piece utilized ordinary shepherds as the visitors to the Christ child thereby raising the hopes of the audience that they too could have visited the manger in order to witness this blessed event despite their imperfections [12]. On another level, this play also laughed at the misadventures of one shepherd, Mak, who stole a sheep from the flock and disguised it as a baby in order to keep it from his counterparts [13]. This depiction, of course, corresponded to the popular imagery of Christ as the "Lamb of God" and again, as this night corresponded to the Nativity, as the baby. Through these styles of performance, the Mystery Plays reenforced the Biblical teachings in the minds of the laity. Another quality of these plays was that they allowed for the direct participation of the laity through their guilds. Certainly, in the fifteenth century, laymen acted in these dramas. But in what numbers? This problem remains a matter of debate amongst scholars as nobody agrees on the exact exertion of secular and spiritual influences on the performances. [14] Certainly, both of these forces played a role in these plays' production, but which side remained as the dominant organizational force? As seen in the Second Shepherd's Play above, while the Church's teachings certainly get attention, secular puns such as the "lamb-baby" reveal the secular influence on these productions. [15] However, the important argument for this paper remains the laypeople's participation in these shows. [16] Again, in acting out certain parts, these people remembered their catechisms much better and through this success, the plays accomplished their goal [17]. Through this greater understanding, the layman would one day seek to understand the Bible for himself.

Religious art also played a great role in the lay religious experience. The Catholic Church advertised its saints and local venerated historical figures through oral and visual means. These figures, therefore, through their vita sanctae, shrines and relics fixed themselves in the center of people's lives. [18] Cogniscent of this phenomenon, the clergy decorated the inside of the local churches with these saintly images in order to awe their parishioners and add sanctity to their sermons. Of course, these saintly images varied themselves according to the respective church's region. Ashburton's church, for example, had stained glass depictions of Our Lady, the apostles Andrew and John, Sts. Christopher, Thomas Becket and George and Henry VI. The windows of Chagford's church, on the other hand, depicted images of Our Lady and Sts. Eligius, Katherine, Michael and Nicholas. [19] Through these images, the people believed that the Lord's influence came down through the priest and into them. [20] These images also served to bring the lay parishioner in contact with the Scriptures as they served as the "layman's books" [21] in the age before universal literacy.

Lay Literacy: An Increasing Commodity

Lay literacy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries remained an upper middle class activity due to economic considerations. This, of course, did not mean that the English government withheld the book from the commonality. On the contrary, the Statues of Laborers in 1405-1406 opened the way for widespread literacy. But, the people's respective abilities to take advantage of this opportunity revolved around their individual economic situations. The lowest laboring classes, for example, failed to learn letters because they did not need such a skill to put food on the family's dining room table at night. These people, the farmers and tradesmen, who worked constantly to accomplish this feat, had little or no idle time for reading. As a result, only the nobility and upper levels of the merchant classes could seize this opportunity. [22] Rosemary O' Day offers this summation of the situation:

But schooling was by no means universal even among the better off sections of society. Even when a child did attend school or have a tutor at home, this might be for a short period or a chronically interrupted period. The burgeoning concepts of extended childhood and adolescence came into sharp conflict with the persistent traditions of the medieval economy.... [23]

As this piece suggests, literacy remained very much an individual affair rather than a class distinction in this period. However, whether these people chose to take advantage of this opportunity or not, the elements of a good education were present. The universities and grammar schools taught many children how to read and write. In addition, scholarly primers, based on Latin texts and English translations, also facilitated this process. Examples of these works included Wynkyn de Worde's primer (1523) and John Byddell's text (1534). [24] Such texts provided many children and adults with the elements of a good education but many rural people had no connections with such devices and so, remained illiterate for a longer period. [25] Another problem to consider in this regard is the measuring sticks which scholars employ to measure these trends. Devices such as wills and signatures on documents have served as evidence of literacy in the past. However, these devices have come under attack as the exact literacy rates remain low and undetermined by scholarly study. As a matter of fact, scholars disagree on the exact figures. David Cressy suggests that 10 percent of the population could read in the sixteenth century while Jo Ann Moran placed the literacy rate at about 15 percent for the same period. [26] Whatever the true figure was, the fact remains that only a small minority of the people could read well enough to be called "literate" in this period due to various economic considerations and the opportunities presented to them to learn their letters.

Conclusions These factors all combined to lay a foundation for future vernacular scriptural usage on the part of the English population. During the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, these people actively involved themselves in certain religious activities. Laymen organized themselves into guilds and performed various pieces of dramatic literature. These people also experienced God's presence through the artwork inside of their local Church. In addition, some of these people actually learned how to read and so, wished to interpret the Bible for themselves. These people, branded as "Lollards" by their peers early on, wanted to accomplish this task and did so in their underground religion [27]. As we shall see in the next section, the Lollards provided an opening for Protestant reformers to introduce the vernacular religious texts into England. These texts ingrained themselves in English society due to the popular religiosity of its people.

III. The Vernacular Bible: A Path to Greater Understanding (1525-1570)

'The Bible, the Bible only I say is the religion of Protestants.' [28]

These sentiments by Henry Chilingworth in 1638 epitomized the fact that a vernacular Bible formed an essential part of Protestantism's spread across Europe. Certainly, translated scriptures were not a new part of medieval intellectual thought. The German and French people, for example, had translated these texts and implemented the production of vernacular Bibles by the 1440's [29]. The Gutenberg Bible (1444) was the most famous part of this trend [30]. England also held a long tradition in this regard. In 1394, for example, the Lollards published their "Lollard Conclusions" which attacked several key Catholic institutions. [31] Such attacks on traditional religious practices led the English government to drive this sect underground where these people continued to produce their scriptural translations. [32] When the Protestant reformers started their production of vernacular Bibles in the sixteenth century, they found a long and illicit tradition to build upon.

The new group of reformers felt compelled to cleanse popular religion of the traditional Roman rites. But what did they feel was wrong with the older order? How did the reformers feel that they could have any effect? Professor Williams, in this regard, has suggested that:

No translation of a literary work could be exactly equal to the original text and when that text was the Word of God this was certainly true. Further, study of the original Greek and Hebrew texts showed that the Latin translation which had been accepted by the Church throughout the Middle Ages, was by no means free from error and would have to be displaced from its position of authority....[33]

The Protestants, in their estimation, faced a monumental task in their attempt to unseat the Roman Catholic clergy whom they saw as magicians and the Latin Vulgate Bible. On top of these issues, these men needed to master many classical languages in order to render a new translation of the Scriptures. [34] Many of these reformist scholars worried about their abilities in this regard. Miles Coverdale, for example, lamented about the weaknesses of his Biblical translations [35]. As a result of a need to constantly perfect their predecessors' work, each individual reformer contributed his respective contribution towards this process which ultimately resulted in the Authorized Version of 1611. This section will discuss the reformers' individual achievements in this regard. (The publishers and pamphleteers will appear in Section IV below.) These translators, through their accomplishments, built a scriptural tradition on which later English Protestantism rested.

William Tyndale

William Tyndale gave England its first new edition of the vernacular scriptures since John Wyclif's texts in the 1380s despite the English government's best attempts to stop him and in so doing, he forced other writers who followed him to write in English. Tyndale's basic goal, in much the same light as Erasmus of Rotterdam's aim before him, involved making the Bible available to even the lowest class person. [36] In his efforts to accomplish this feat, Tyndale's efforts encompassed many areas of scholarship. For instance, his humanist background inspired him to translate Erasmus' Enchridion in 1503 from the original Greek text. [37] In addition, Tyndale also translated the Penteuch, the Book of Jonah and certain Old Testament passages from the Latin Vulgate in addition to a disputed vernacular text stretching from John to II Chronicles from the same source. Finally, he also translated Luther's Biblical text from the German. [38] However, despite this achievements, Tyndale never had a chance to translate the Bible in its entirety due to his capture and execution. However, through his labors, Tyndale broke a path which later translators followed.

Miles Coverdale

Miles Coverdale, as Tyndale's successor, not only produced many Biblical translations but through his contacts with Thomas Cromwell, convinced Henry VIII to grant recognition to these vernacular texts. Coverdale's first Bible, published in 1535, involved a reworking of Tyndale's New Testament as well as some of his own scholarship in the Latin and Hebrew texts and proved to be a scholastic and a diplomatic success [39]. Certainly, Coverdale was not the first man to attempt to translate the Old Testament into English, but he, unlike Tyndale, did not outwardly attack the religious establishment. On the other hand, Coverdale sought to please all religious parties involved at Henry's court as this supplication to the king reveals: make I this protestation, having God to record my conscience, that I have neither wrested or altered so much as one word for the maintenance of any manner of sect, but have with a clear conscience purely and faithfully translated this [text] out of five sundry interpreters, having only the manifest truth of the Scriptures before mine eyes....[40]

Coverdale knew that Tyndale had stumbled before in his relations with Henry VIII through his inability to compromise with anyone else on the wording of his translation. Therefore, Coverdale resolved to provide Henry with a work which held language of lesser intensity than his predecessor's but yet, containing enough true to suit his own conscience. When the bishops "answered that there were no heresies that they could find maintained thereby" [41] in this work, Coverdale realized this goal.

Coverdale also worked on another text, the Great Bible of 1539 which received the inspiration of a number of sources and success in the form of government acceptance. This text was Thomas Cromwell's project and so, the viceregent instructed Cromwell to produce it. [42] Coverdale, in his preparation for this task, consulted John Rogers' Matthew's Bible (1537) [43] and Sebastian Munster's German Bible (1535). In addition, this scholar also reworked his own translation of Erasmus' works in addition to softening Tyndale's language to an even greater degree than in his previous Bible. [44] Coverdale's purpose reveals itself in this passage:

...the King's royal majesty intended that his loving subjects should have and use the commodity of the said Bibles, for the purpose above rehearsed, humbly, meekly, reverently and obediently; and not that any of them should read the said Bibles with loud and high voices, [but] in the time of the celebration of the holy Mass and [in] other divine services used in the church, nor that any of his subjects, [in] reading the same, should presume to take upon them[selves] any common disputation contained therein but that every such lay man should humbly, meekly and reverently read the same for his own instruction, edification andamendment of his own life according to God's holy word mentioned therein....[45]

Coverdale had two goals for the reception of this work. The first part of this strategy rationalized the commonality's possession and comprehension of this text as a necessary act for the lay people's souls. In this regard, his views mirrored Erasmus' and Tyndale's previous opinions [46]. However, his second view concerned a fear that people would use these translated texts to subvert English society. Therefore, Coverdale urged the commonality to read this text quietly and carefully and not to push their views on the religious establishment. As shall be seen in Section IV below, Coverdale's fears proved to be prophetic as his Bibles influenced hundreds of pamphlets attacking the Henrician and Elizabethan Churches in addition to those works promoting the Edwardian Church. Coverdale's Great Bible, through its achievement of national status, realized the author's goals in a magnificent fashion as the five later editions of this work published by 1541 could attest [47]. Coverdale, through these works, brought the vernacular Bible out of its exile of illegality and into the national spotlight. As noted above, this translator wished to provide the English people with a clear scriptural translation which they could understand but simultaneously, Coverdale sought the acceptance of his Bibles by the Henrician government. Certainly, Henry VIII's acceptance of these texts and their subsequent placement in English churches by royal law marked the stature of this scholar's achievement. In fact, many of the passages in the Authorized Version come directly from Coverdale's labors [48]. Coverdale, through his "legal" translations of the Bible and those works' achievements, gave a great contribution to the vernacular scriptural translation movement.

John Rogers ("Thomas Matthew")

John Rogers produced the Matthew's Bible through a number of sources and achieved recognition for his work by the royal government. Roger's Bible employed the language of Tyndale's edition with some of Coverdale's language to mitigate its intensity in order to insure its acceptance by Henry's government [49]. This strategy worked well as the text pleased Thomas Cramner so much that he supported it in front of Henry VIII and Cromwell on August 4, 1537 [50] with these words:

You shall receive by the bringer hereof a Bible in English, both of a new translation and of a new print, dedicated unto the king's majesty....I pray you, my lord, that unto the king's highness, and to obtain of his grace, if you can, a license that the same may be sold and read of every person, without danger of any art, proclamation or ordinance heretofore granted to the contrary, until such time that we, the bishops, shall set forth a better translation, which I think not be 'till a day after doomsday....[51]

Cramner's praise gained this text's royal approval and, with the help of the licensed printer's, Richard Grafton, letters to Cromwell, secured its placement in English churches [52]. This Bible also sold well as Grafton's letter to Cromwell complaining of illegal competition could attest. [53] The presence of such a black market also signified this text's rampant popularity. Roger's text also impacted Biblical studies as Coverdale later consulted it in preparation for his Great Bible as noted above. Therefore, through the achievement of this text, Rogers also contributed to the vernacular scriptural text movement.

Richard Travener

Richard Travener's Bible, although it proved only to be a minor work in terms of its sales in the marketplace, gave the scriptural translation movement a new angle through his knowledge of Greek alone. The earlier translators, Tyndale and Coverdale, employed Hebrew, Latin and Greek in their translations. However, Travener knew only Latin and Greek. Therefore, his text, obviously leaned towards an interpretation of the Greek Scriptures since he did not know any Hebrew. As a result, Travener's text drifted away from the other contemporary Bibles but in its own way, foreshadowed the Rhennish New Testament of 1582 and, to some extent, the Authorized Version of 1611. [54] Cromwell allowed Travener to publish his work in 1539 and reissue it again in 1540 as an inexpensive Bible for public consumption. [55] Richard Travener, in this regard, through his sole use of Greek Scriptural material, sold some copies of his text and started another Biblical studies' tradition which some would later follow.

Conclusions These reformers sought to provide the best translations possible for the general populace's comprehension and salvation. To this end, these men, William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, John Rogers and Richard Travener, used a variety of textual interpretations in their respective texts during their individual labors. The public responded through the great demand for these texts. Coverdale's Great Bible, as noted above, sold out five separate editions between 1539 and 1541. [56] Tyndale's Bible stole into England at the bottom of imported items from the Continent. [57] Travener's Bible remained available at a low cost to the literate laity at a reasonable cost. Finally, Coverdale's first Bible of 1535 sold thousands of copies with Cromwell's assistance. [58] Therefore, any literate person with enough money could buy these texts and study them on his or her own. In this regard, Coverdale begged the people to read this text carefully and not to stir up any trouble through the knowledge which they gained from it. [59] Despite these protestations, this problem eventually erupted into the "literary boom" which will be discussed in Section IV. These translators' labors achieved more than their, or Erasmus', goal of simple lay scriptural literacy. Therefore, the royal government took various measures to deal with this issue and it will be to those policies that this study next shift its attention.

IV. The Government's Restrictive Measures on this Trend (1535-1570)

The popular reaction over these Bibles forced the English monarchs into different policies of response due to their own various personalities as they each tried to steer the religious fervor in a direction which suited their own ends. But what were these monarchs thinking about when they crafted their respective policies? How did they carry out these plans? Finally, what was the end result of their policies? As shall be seen below, each plan differed in some detail from its three counterparts in its approach to the popular eligiosity due to each ruler's background. Therefore, in order to understand the process as well as its parts, an examination of each ruler's methodology is in order, for if one understands how these strategies affected each other despite their differences, then the path which the English church took towards its Protestant destiny becomes clearer and easier to understand.

Henry VIII (1529-1547)

'If there be no heresies', said the king, 'then in God's name, let it go abroad among our people....' [60]

An Act of 1543 prohibited the use of Tyndale or any other annotated Bible in English and forbade unlicensed persons to read or expound the Bible to others in any other church or open assembly...Yet in 1543 Convocation ordered that the Bible should be read through in English, chapter by chapter, every Sunday and Holy Day after Te Deum and Magnificat....[61]

Henry VIII's policies attempted to steer a via media [62] between the traditional Roman Catholic and the newer Protestant religious groups. On the one hand, this ruler attempted to provide his subjects with the best Biblical translation possible. With this purpose in mind, Henry and his bishops inspected each respective work carefully before these pieces reached the public marketplace [63]. Henry, as the second piece reveals, also promoted the clergy's preaching in the vernacular to their parishioners. However, as the second passage also indicates, this king also allowed only the educated upper classes to touch this scriptural material. Why did Henry hold a reverence for the traditional order? How could he practice two different policies simultaneously? Finally, what was the outcome of these policies? Henry VIII, as shall be seen below, wished to proceed carefully along his newly chosen path in order to keep as much of the traditional Catholicism alive as he accepted. [64]

Henry VIII's government promoted the new Protestant religion through its policies. Cromwell's support of the various Biblical text has already been noted in this essay but he also made other contributions to this movement as well. The viceregent, for example, loaned L400 out of his own pocket in order to help finance the publication of the Matthew's Bible in 1537. [65] In addition, Cromwell also supported the passage of the Ten Articles and the First Set of Injunctions of 1536. Both measures secured the new religion's social standing and reenforced the idea of lay scriptural literacy among the laity. [66] This last point received special attention from Cromwell in a letter addressed to the bishops from June, 1538 in which he stated that the vernacular Bible,"by the king's high commandment", must find its way into the churches so that the laity could hear the preacher speak from its text and therefore, a man could in turn teach this wisdom to his family. [67] Through such measures, the Henrician government provided the people with the vernacular scriptures and through it, the means to their salvation.

Despite Henry VIII's concession of the vernacular Bibles and sermons for his subjects' edification, this monarch laid down some strict legislation governing the use of these texts. Henry VIII acted in this fashion because he, like Coverdale, knew that chaos would result if the less educated lower classes of the English commonality got hold of these texts or if any writings which did not conform to his policies. Therefore, this king used the powers granted to him by the Supremacy Act of 1534 " have authority to reform and redress all errors, heresies and abuses...whatsoever they [may] be...most to the pleasure of Almighty God" [68] in order to deal with these potential problems. First, he rejected Tyndale's translation of the Bible in 1531 despite Cromwell's support of that work. [69] Then in 1543, Henry VIII's Prohibitory Act restricted the Bibles' lay usage to only the clergy, nobility and upper class merchants. In the king's eyes, no man of the commonality held enough education to use these texts properly. [70] In 1546, Henry followed this act with another piece of legislation forbidding the laity to read the continental reformers' tracts. [71] This act, released in response to the massive deluge of Tyndale's works and other pamphlets from the Low Countries, epitomized Henry's attempt to censor these written messages before they reached the people. [72] However, these legal statutes were not successful as common men, such as William Maldon, a young Chelmsford apprentice, acquired these texts and hid them away from prying eyes. [73] Many such people would influence the religious policies of Henry's successors. [74] However, despite these cases, Henry succeeded in controlling these texts' interpretation by his subjects for the majority of his reign.

Henry VIII believed in keeping the Scriptures directly out of his subjects' hands yet he allowed them to hear the vernacular sermons by the clergy. This move was a compromise measure on his part. Certainly, he supported Erasmus in that every lay man should know the Scriptures for his own edification. [75] Yet, this ruler wished to prevent the inevitable split within the English nation which these texts threatened to cause. Therefore, Henry VIII used his powers granted to him by the Supremacy Act to limit lay access to the Bible and therefore, he preserved the ecclesiastical hierarchy for the remainder of his reign. [76] These constraints, while they prevented the tide of the continental reformist pamphlets from washing ashore during Henry's reign, they gave way in the successive reigns of Edward VI and Mary I due to these tracts' force [77].

Edward VI and his Regents (1547-1553)

In discussing the religious trends of Edward VI's reign, one must consider the two regents who governed in the young king's behalf: the Earl of Somerset and Lord Dudley. Each man held differing beliefs. The former was a Lutheran78. The later subscribed to Calvinist beliefs [79]. As a result, these men promoted this trend in very different ways. This section shall discuss each man's policy in turn and then attempt to place them the context of the events of the 1550s. Through their differing policies in this period, Somerset and Dudley offered the English people two opposing views of continental Protestantism [80].

Somerset transferred English religion from Henrician Catholicism to Lutheranism during his regency through the First Book of Common Prayer and the First Act of Uniformity (1549). Somerset, wasting no time after Henry VIII's death, wasted no time in implementing his policies. Through parliamentary statutes, the regent immediately repealed all of the Henrician heresy laws, brought in major changes in doctrine and scripture such as the Lutheran belief in consubstantiation, knocked out restrictions on reading scriptures, allowed for clerical marriage and quickly, through Cramner's First Book of Common Prayer and the new liturgy for the Mass [81], wiped away all traces of Roman Catholicism in the English Church and placed England and her possessions under the Lutheran Church and its doctrines. [82] Anybody could speak their mind on Biblical issues and, with a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, could write tracts on Biblical topics. [83] Any lay opposition to these new doctrines brought a fine of L 10 [84]. Recusant clergymen received the following punishments: the loss of one benefice for a year and six month's imprisonment for the first offence, the permanent alienation of all benefices and a year's imprisonment for the second offence and lifelong imprisonment for the third offence. [85] Somerset enforced these penalties, for example, on the clerical leaders of the Prayer Book Revolt of 1549 [86]. As a result, many people remained free to voice their opinions as long as they conformed to Lutheran doctrine. Unfortunately, the law stated above had no means of enforcement and so, Somerset left an opportunity for others such as Dudley to oust him from the regency. Still, in looking at Somerset's brief regency, one must remember that this man succeeded in his goal and that meant the Protestantization of the English Church.

Dudley replaced Somerset's Lutheran reforms with his own Calvinist measures87. These moves were even more extreme than their predecessors for Dudley immediately commissioned a new work, The Second Book of Common Prayer (1552), passed a new Act of Uniformity, and pronounced a new set of injunctions by Archbishop Holgate of York (1553) [88]. These texts, supported by Dudley and his regime, swept away the traditional "magical" remnants of the Mass. This process also banned pilgrimages, saints and their shrines. This process took many years but eventually, most regions began to be very Protestant despite the folkloric religion which remained behind at the grassroots' level. [89] England, during Dudley's short rule, became extremely Protestant as many policies supported Calvinist or Zwinglian religious tendencies. [90] In addition, as shall be seen below, many Protestant texts flowed into England and due to their wide circulation, held a great influence over the people's religious opinions. In addition, Dudley passed the Forty-Two Articles of Religion (1553) [91] which confirmed these achievements at least for the remainder of his rule. Dudley, through the success of his policies, subjugated the English Church to Calvinism and allowed still more continental influences into England during his two year regency. These achievements insured that his measures would remain fixed in place at least through the remainder of his reign.

Somerset and Dudley, despite their political and religious differences, accomplished many of the same ends. Their measures turned the English Church towards the Continent and its Protestant influence. In addition, the Parliamentary statutes and Protestant propaganda, although temporarily repealed by Mary I, fixed Protestantism in the minds of many people so that Roman Catholicism would never rise back to its former medieval glory. [92] Finally, the two Books of English Common Prayer and the Acts of Uniformity foreshadowed the forecoming Elizabethan return to Protestantism. However, in 1553, that event remained five years in the future as Mary I, the new Catholic monarch, attempted to turn the clock back to the medieval past.

Mary I (1553-1558)

From her coronation on October 1, 1553, Mary I's goal was to return England and its people to Roman Catholicism in all aspects of religious thought. The first measure to this end, a Parliamentary statute from December of 1553, "...restored ...worship as in Henry VIII's last year". [93] This act effectively removed the literary freedoms put in place under Somerset and Dudley. The Two Repeal Acts of 1553 and 1555 which followed this first piece of legislation, sought to turn the clock back even further as they reversed the Henrician statutes passed during the Reformation Parliament of 1520-1536. These policies, in effect, might have been worse had Parliament revived the Heresy Laws in 1554 when she asked for them. [94] However, the Government had once again forced all Protestant activity underground, executed most of the Protestant clerical leaders such as Cranmer and Rogers and, after Cardinal Reginald Pole became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1557, censored all Protestant works. [95] As a result, many Protestants fled the country for various continental safe havens where they could worship in relative safety. [96] Mary, through her application of the Counter-Reformation on the English Church, attempted to return Roman Catholicism back to its former glory.

Elizabeth I (1558-1570)

Elizabeth I maintained a controlled policy towards the vernacular scriptures in much the same way as her father, Henry VIII, had done during his reign [97]. Immediately, after her coronation, Elizabeth proceeded to reverse her sister's previous measures and restore England to the Protestant way. As Anne Somerset concluded in her recent biography:

In the circumstances it was almost a foregone conclusion that the Queen would aim to establish some sort of national Church, independent of the Papacy, but the exact form that this would take was by no means clear....[98]

Elizabeth, in April of 1559, presented the Second Act of Supremacy to Parliament for passage. This legislation compelled every English subject to swear an Oath of Obedience to the Queen as the Supreme Governor of the English Church. As the act stipulated: "Anybody printing and / or distributing anything contrary to the Crown's policy will be punished" [99]. However, unlike her father, Elizabeth's rights to limit heresies remained limited as she needed clerical approval from the Convocation in order to overturn these illegalities. [100] The Act of Uniformity (1559) restored the Reformed Church, made attendance mandatory for all English subjects and reintroduced the Second Edwardian Prayer Book of 1552 without the Black Rubric and a few other minor changes in the 1552 Prayer Book's text. [101] The penalty for any subject's nonattendance at a church service in his or her parish remained at 12 d. per service missed. [102] Elizabeth employed these controls in her legislation because of the returning Marian exiles' radical beliefs. These people had encountered Zwinglian and Calvinist beliefs in places such as Zurich to an even greater extent than they had under Dudley's regency. The Exiles felt that Elizabeth must push the Reformation farther along than she intended to. These people, as shall be seen below, brought many propagandist tracts back into England with them upon their return. As a result, Elizabeth needed to exert tight control over the English Church's policies even as she compromised with these people [103]. This compromise insured that while the English Church remained out of the Calvinist camp, it would never again subscribe officially to Henrician Catholicism either. [104 ] Elizabeth I maintained a tight policy over her subjects' religious beliefs and their writings even as she compromised with them on some policies.


The English Church in the sixteenth century withstood the various contemporary trends of religious thought under each of respective monarchs. Henry VIII represented the initial Protestant break with Rome despite his remaining a "good Catholic" right up until his death. In this regard, while he allowed his subjects to hear the Scriptures spoken in the vernacular, this King's legislation barred the lower classes from their access to this material. In this way, Henry VIII remained parallel to Martin Luther in that neither man wanted a breach with Rome until circumstances dictated otherwise. [105] Edward VI's reign, under the regency of Somerset and Dudley, experienced the twin gales of Lutheranism and Calvinism as expressed in the First and Second Edwardian Prayer Books and the many writings produced in England and imported from the Continent in this six year span. Mary's reign symbolized an attempted Counter-Reformation within the English Church as all previous advances in Henry VIII's and Edward VI's respective reigns vanished beneath the First and Second Acts of Repeal in 1553 and 1555. These measures drove many Protestants to Continental safe havens where they observed their beliefs in relative safety until the Queen's death in 1558 [106]. Elizabeth I reestablished English Protestantism even as she controlled the very forces of Calvinism, Lutheranism, Bucerism and Zwinglianism threatening to splinter the English Church as they had previously done in the Holy Roman Empire through her legislation. These differing forces led to an English Church with its policies which stood out as unique from any other such establishment in Europe at this time.

Did this measures really work? Despite their punitive powers, the commonality received these works, studied and interpreted them and wrote still more tracts about their beliefs. This massive "literary boom" resulted in the spread of radical Protestant and Roman Catholic ideas to a minor extent throughout the countryside despite the Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy. In the next section, this study shifts its focus to the various forms which this religious propaganda took in its relentless advance throughout England. As shall be seen below, this literary tidal wave, composed of various types of works, threatened to sweep away all order if the royal prerogative allowed it to do so.

V. The Biblical Progeny: The "Literary Boom" From Cromwell to the Eve of Puritanism (1530-1570)

Opening the Bible to a people this disorientated was an invitation to dissent which was readily accepted in many quarters....[107]

The vernacular Bible, as many people feared, opened up many avenues of discontent on the part of many extremists. Who were these people? As noted above, they were the so-called "uneducated commoners" whom Henry VIII and Coverdale warned would abuse the passages in these texts in addition to the rabid reformers over whom royal authority held little effect. As on the Continent, the printing press led to the production of countless religious works in England which attracted a wide audience. [108] What forms did these tracts take? How did they attract their audience? Which authors were widely read? This section shall briefly discuss the wide range of propaganda from this period in all of its various forms. Through this literature, a variety of religious messages received attention whether the Crown wished them to or not [109].

Domestic Literature

English Protestant literature took on many forms throughout the period in question. This tradition had prevailed in England since John Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde had published religious literary works such as The Life of Saynt Radegund (1521) and The Life of Saynt Wedberg (1521) early in the century. [110] H. S. Bennett, along these lines, made the following comment:

[T]he change over to the printing-house left all in doubt....No doubt some things, such as religious manuals or service-books, had a fairly safe sale, but if new classes of books were to be got into circulation greater risks had to be taken....[111]

This change in literary output probably outweighed the fifteenth century printing pioneers' expectations as the market, in which Caxton and de Worde found so hard to sell their wares, readily accepted the Protestant propagandists' items. In this section, I wish to look at the various forms of literature produced in England to see how they presented themselves to the people. Through such an analysis, one sees that social religious fervor fueled this onslaught despite the monarchs' wishes. [112] Domestically Protestant propagandist tracts flowed freely across England from the 1520's onward. In 1533, for example, Lambert Sparrow, a Dutchman living in York, recanted for having read, used and taught Lutheran tracts. In addition, Roger Danyell, a sailor from Hull, reportedly "had the gospels in English which the Dean of York [also] had [113]". In this regard, Collinson reported that Biblical interpretations produced other works such as A briefe chronologie of the holie scriptures and A treatise of the way to life. [114] Other such works included The Pylgrimage of perfection (1526), A devout epystle...for them that be conscience (1535), Katharine Parr's The lamentations of a sinner (1547), R. Tracy's The preparacyon to the crosse, wyth the preparacion to deeth (1530) and John Faukener's The troubled mans medicine (1546) among many more. [115] The presence of such texts meant that many Englishmen learned about the Bible so well that they found themselves able to debate with the clergy about scriptural matters. [116] Such debate led to other more controversial works such as George Ioye confuteth Winchesters false articles (1543) and Bishop's A declaration of such true articles as G. Joye hath gone to confute (1546). [117] This period saw great minds such as Thomas More and John Frith (who produced nine and six volumes of work respectively) put out great amounts of work in addition to other lesser-known minds such as Joye (six works between 1543 and 1549) and Thomas Becon (twenty-four works and some pamphlets between 1541 and 1554). [118] These authors believed that the Scriptures must go out to the people and that their works must carry that message [119]. Through such efforts, these authors promoted God's word to the people.

Protestant ideas also readily spread through dramatic performances. This phenomenon's effect has already revealed itself in terms of its successes in spreading Scriptural knowledge in the fifteen century through such pieces as Everyman and The Second Shepherds' Play. In the 1560's, after some years of suppression, these performances enjoyed a renaissance as Protestant playwrights started producing them once again [120]. York, for example, held such spectacles between 1566 and 1572. In 1575, Elizabeth I watched a benefit performance of the "Hoch Tuesday Play". The Corpus Christi plays and the Chester Mystery Play Cycle also received attention from no less than William Shakespeare in his works and in the clergy's sermons as well. [121] Such pieces set the stage (no pun intended) for other dramatic vehicles of Protestant religious doctrine such as Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus which emphasized the fact that God's grace can save an individual from the grips of Hell even when this individual has committed the vilest of sins, the sale of a soul to the devil. Marlowe, in this piece, unlike Goethe centuries later, depicted Faustus' fall into the depths because of his obsession with knowledge which he must obtain at any cost. The angel in the piece represented God's continuing grace which Faustus rejected and so, this scholar lost everything. [122] John Bale also wrote these works. As A. G. Dickens reported: "The propagandist plays of John Bale form only one of the many known links between the nascent national drama and the Reformation" [123]. Therefore, these works, through the transmission of such messages, served the Protestants well in promoting their religion.

English writers broadcasted Protestant ideas through their literature. Many tracts displayed and disputed religious interpretations and other Scriptural messages. In addition, drama played a key role for these ideas' transmission through such pieces as Marlowe's Doctor Faustus which attempted to demonstrate to its audience that all people could get to Heaven through God's grace if they repented for their sins. In this respect, this dramatic piece mirrored Everyman's message from the previous century. Domestic pieces produced a great deal of Protestant propaganda in addition to the foreign items seen below.

Continental Literature

The Continental reformers' tracts also produced a surge in the English religious establishment as many tracts poured into the country through the import trade [124]. These works held an important position because domestic printers, fearful of the monarchs' wraith, in the respective cases of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I, let their foreign counterparts in Zurich and Amsterdam print them [125]. Geneva also produced many great Calvinist thinkers such as John Knox in the 1530's and 1540's in its role as the premiere center for that religion in Europe [126] and many of the Marian exiles returning from there promoted Melanchthon's ideas as well. Finally, Somerset advocated the usage of Erasmus' Book of Homilies and Nicholas Udall's Paraphrases while he remained in power. [127] In addition to these advances, other reformers' works received many adherents as their texts sold many copies. [128] Martin Luther's works sold several editions whenever they appeared [129]. John Calvin's texts also enjoyed similar successes in England [130]. In addition, other reformers enjoyed similar successes. These reformers' works enjoyed considerable success in England as a result of the Reformation [131]. What caused such this success? The immense Protestant propaganda provided great advertising for such works through the works of the Marian exiles such as John Foxe in addition to some of the domestic tracts [132] The English literate laity, as a result of their religiosity, eagerly picked up these works for their own study. These sources accelerated the circulation of Protestant ideas throughout England as a result of their respective messages.

John Foxe: Protestant Propagandist in exile

As noted above, many Protestant thinkers found foreign cities such as Geneva safer havens than England during Mary's reign [133]. From these centers, these men transmitted their ideas back to England through their many religious tracts. [134] John Calvin proved to be the greatest example of this group of exiles. His Acts and Monuments (1563) and Book of Martyrs promoted the Protestant religion as a natural part of religious history [135] in addition to the heroism of the Marian exiles during the "Smithfield Fires". [136] Along these lines, John Guy described the Acts and Monuments as a data bank for the Elizabethan 'godly' reformation. [137] Through these statements, Foxe blamed Mary for abominable horrors when in reality, he exaggerated the number of executions in his work. [138] Foxe, for example, crafted the following piece about the Protestants' successes:

The Lord began to work for His Church not with sword and target to subdue His exalted adversary but with printing, writing and reading...How many presses there be in the world, so many block-houses there be against the high castle of St. Angelo so that either the pope must abolish knowledge and printing must at length root him out....[139]

Thus, from this passage, the modern world received the colloquialism that the "pen is mightier than the sword". In this regard, the printing press indeed proved to be Foxe's greatest ally as he compared the Marian persecutions to the Roman persecutions of the Christian martyrs in the first centuries A.D. [ 140] This writer also produced favorable descriptions of the various promoters of Protestantism such as Thomas Cromwel1 [141]. However, he also quickly denounced either those Roman Catholics who stood in the way of this religious movement and those Protestants who failed to defend their religion [142]. Foxe's description of Elizabeth's complaints during her imprisonment, for example, rendered a less than gratifying portrait of the Queen. [143] Through such methods, Foxe promoted his religion to the English people.


These writers promoted their religion through these various literary mediums. English domestic writers produced a variety of texts dealing with the Scriptures. In addition, the Continental reformers' works enjoyed great successes in the English marketplace. English dramatic pieces, through the great playwrights' pens such as those belonging to Marlowe and Bale amplified these successes through the fixing of Protestant ideas, in the minds of their audience in much the same way that the medieval Mystery writers did a century earlier. Marlowe's depiction of God's grace in Doctor Faustus was only one of many cases of this sort. Protestant propaganda also found its way into England through John Foxe's pen. His portraits, while biased according to his aim in much the same way as a commercial works on television today, provided his audience with more ammunition for their attack on the Catholic remnants in the English Church. Therefore, through such works, the Protestant religion received its share of propaganda.

VI. Conclusions

The religious vernacular scriptural textual movement traversed a long and difficult path from its origins deep in the traditional late medieval Catholic religious order down to the writings of Foxe, Marlowe and Coverdale. This paper has attempted to trace the process by which this movement gradually achieved success. This progression occurred over the course of a century and through the following stages: the formation of a lay audience, the translation of the Bible, the different royal policies concerning this trend and the various mediums which promoted Protestantism and the Scriptures to the English people. Each of these steps needed its predecessor(s)' successes in order for it to achieve success in its own right.

The first stage of this progression, the formation of a receptive audience for these works, succeeded due to the effects of various literary and artistic mediums on the late medieval mind. The English commonality assiduously believed in Catholicism. [144] The Church promoted this religiosity in a variety of ways. First, the clergy hung depictions of various saints and local heroes in their parish churches in order to support the idea of the pilgrimage and the saints' relics. [145] The Mystery plays also supported this purpose through either their depictions of various Biblical scenes or their emphasis on Christian morality in everybody's life. Various saints' lives appeared in print from John Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde's respective presses for this purpose as well [146]. Finally, despite the current scholarly debate on the exact percentages, literacy rates also rose in this period [147]. These factors combined to lay a base for the future vernacular scriptural movement.

The vernacular Bible marked the possibility of a successful Protestant reform in this period. The reformers' abilities with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German and French certainly made this possible [148]. In this regard, Erasmus' dreams of lay scriptural literacy achieved reality due to these men's respective efforts [149]. These texts, Tyndale's Bible, Coverdale's Bible, Rogers' Matthew's Bible, Coverdale's Great Bible and Traverner's Bible all revised and perfected the previous translations. [150] In fact, these translations eventually formed a part of the Authorised Version of 1611. [151] These translators bridged the gap between the Latin Vulgate and the English laymen through their efforts and rendered the spread of Protestantism, for better or for worse, a definite probability.

The popularity over these texts convinced the English monarchs to enact various policies either in support or in opposition to this trend according to their own personalities. These trends, as mentioned above, reflected the various phases of European religious thought at that point. Henry VIII, like Luther early in his career, believed in maintaining a separate Catholic Church from Rome. [152] Edward VI and his regents, Somerset and Dudley, embraced the Protestant forms of Lutheranism and Calvinism. [153] Mary embraced the Counter-Reformation and in accordance with her own beliefs, attempted to reunite the English and Roman Churches, but failed due to the lasting effect of the previous Henrician and Edwardian experiences. Elizabeth I, for her part, restored Protestantism to the English Church but due to the compromises which she made with the Marian exiles over certain Church policies, this Queen's desired return to Henrician Catholicism fell by the wayside. [154] Each monarch, with the exception of Edward VI, imposed strict regulations on these texts' use. Due to the effect of the Reformers' literary tide of pamphlets washing up on English shores, these policies failed in their objective. However, through their influence, these monarchs shaped the English Church into a unique structure apart from any other organization of its kind.

This study also looked at the differing types of "propagandist progeny" of the Bible in all of their various forms. Both domestic and Continental reformers wrote pamphlets which allowed the English people with easy access to the Scriptures and certain scholars' Biblical interpretations. [155] In addition, Protestant dramas such as Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Bale's respective works dramatically portrayed Protestant beliefs on the stage for their audiences' benefit in much the same manner as their Roman Catholic counterparts' productions of the previous two centuries. Finally, the John Foxe's works marked the greatest English propaganda of all in its comparisons of Protestants to the greatest of past Christians and denounced any unfavorable acts against this religious cause. [156] Through these various mediums, the Protestant propagandists promoted their religion.

This process, as much as it affected society, actually comprised much more ground than is actually covered in this study. The march towards lay vernacular lay scriptural literacy actually started in the twelfth century with the first lay written records and accounts and ended with the final realization of religious scriptural literacy some time in the eighteenth century. However, a description of those parameters remain far too ambitious a topic for a paper of this size to handle. However, this project, a further study of this topic along those proposed guidelines would make for an interesting topic in terms of future research. In terms of this piece of the puzzle, the triumph of the Reformers, their translation of the Bible, shook the world and put English society on a course with its religious destiny.


I. Bibliographies

The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: Volume 1: 600-1660. Ed. George Watson. Vol. 1 of 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

II. Primary Sources

Anonymous. The English Statute De haeretico comburendo 1401. Heresy and Authority in the Later Middle Ages. Ed. Edward Peters. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980. 212-215. (Hereafter referred to as "Peters".)

Anonymous. Everyman. Medieval English Literature. Ed. Thomas J. Garbaty. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath & Co., 1984. 907-931. (Hereafter referred to as "Garbaty".)

Anonymous. The Lollard Conclusions, 1394. Peters, 277-282.

Bible Translations: A History Through Source Documents. Ed. Roland H. Worth, Jr. London: Mc Farland & Co., 1992.

Everyman and the Medieval Miracle Plays. Ed. A. C. Cawley. 3rd Ed. London: J. M. Dent, 1993.

Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell. Ed. Roger B. Merriman. 2 Vols. Rpt. Ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968.

Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. Christopher Marlowe: Complete Plays and Works. Ed. E. D. Pendry, et al. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1976. 327-395.

Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene: Books I To III. Ed. Douglas Brooks-Davies. Rpt. Ed. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1991.

"The Tudors". Sources of English Constitutional History: A Selection of Documents from A. D. 600 to the Interregnum. Ed. Carl Stephenson and Frederick G. Marcham. Vol. 1 of 2. Rev. Ed New York: Harper & Row, 1972. 296-403.

Ten Miracle Plays. Ed. R. G. Thomas. York Medieval Texts. Ed. Elizabeth Salter, et al 2nd Ed. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1967.

The Wakefield Master. The Second Shepherd's Play. Garbaty, 882-906.

III. Secondary Sources

Allmand, Christopher. Henry V. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992.

Bennett, H. S. English Books & Readers 1475 to 1557: Being a Study in the History of the Book Trade From Caxton to the Incorporation of the Stationers' Company. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952.

Bossy, John. Christianity in the West 1400-1700. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Collinson, Patrick. The Birthpangs of Protestant England: religious and cultural change in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the third Austey memorial lectures in the University of Kent at Canterbury, 12-15 May 1986. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

------------------. "The Late Medieval Church and its Reformation (1400-1600)". The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity. Ed. John Mc Manners. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. 233-266.

Deanesley, Margaret. The Lollard Bible and Other Medieval Biblical Versions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920.

Dickens, A. G. The English Reformation. Rev. Ed. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.

-------------. Lollards and Protestants in the Diocese of York 1509-1558. London: Hambledon Press, 1982.

Doran, Susan and Christopher Durston. Princes, Pastors and People: The Church and Religion in England 1529-1689. London: Routledge, 1991.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Erickson, Carolly. Bloody Mary. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1978.

-----------------. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books, 1983.

Febvre, Lucien and Henri-Jean Martin. The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800. Trans. David Gerard. London: Verso, 1976.

Guy, John. Tudor England. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Manning, Roger B. Religion and Society In Elizabethan Sussex: A study of the enforcement of the religious settlement, 1558-1603. Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1969.

Moorman, John R. H. A History of the Church in England. New York: Morehouse-Gorham, Co., 1954.

Moran, Jo Ann H. The Growth of English Schooling 1340-1548: Learning, Literacy, and Laicization in Pre-Reformation York Diocese. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Oberman, Heiko A. Luther: Man Between God and Devil. Trans. Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

O' Day, Rosemary. Education and Society 1500-1800: The social foundations of education in Early modern Britain. London: Longman, 1982.

Oxley, James E. The Reformation in Essex To the Death of Mary. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1965.

Plant, Majorie. The English Book Trade: An Economic History of the Making and Sale of Books. 3rd Ed. London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1974.

Rex, Richard. Henry VIII and the English Reformation. London: MacMillan Press, Ltd., 1993.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in popular beliefs in sixteenth and seventeenth century England. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971.

Thomson, J. A. F. The Later Lollards 1414-1520. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Watt, Tessa. Cheap Print and Popular Piety 1550-1640. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Whiting, Robert. The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular religion and the English Reformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Williams, C. H. William Tyndale. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1969.


[1] Anonymous, Everyman. Medieval English Literature. Ed. Thomas J. Garbaty. (Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1984). 907-931. 927. ("I thanke God that ye haue taryed so longe./ Now set eche of you on this rodde your honde/ And shortely folowe me./ I go before there I wolde be./ God be our gyde....") [2] Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene: Books I To III. Ed. Douglas Brooks-Davies (London: J. M. Dent & Son, 1991), 18.

[3] Patrick Collinson, "The Late Medieval Church and its Reformation (1400-1600)". The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity. Ed. John Mc Manners. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990). 233-266. 239.

[4] Roger B. Manning, Religion and Society in Elizabethan Sussex: A study of the enforcement of the religious settlement, 1558-1603 (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1969), 35-37.

[5] A. C. Cawley, Everyman and the Medieval Miracle Plays. 3rd Ed. (London: J. M. Dent, 1993), xiii, xxii.

[6] J. H. Moorman, A History of the Church in England (New York: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1954), 156-57.

[7] Richard Rex, Henry VIII and the English Reformation (London: Mac Millian Press, Ltd., 1993), 76.

[8] Garbaty, 861.

[9] Cawley, xxi.

[10] Ibid, xxi and Garbaty, 861.

[11] Ibid, xxi and Ibid, 861.

[12] The Wakefield Master, The Second Shepherd's Play. Garbaty, 904.

[13] Ibid, 33 and Cawley, xxi.

[14] Ibid, xxi and R. G. Thomas, Ten Miracle Plays, 11.

[15] Thomas, 11 and Garbaty, 9 and 33.

[16] Ibid, 11 and Ibid, 9 and 33.

[17] Ibid, 11 and Ibid, 33.

[18] Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in popular beliefs in sixteenth and seventeenth century England (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1971), 26-29.

[19] Robert Whiting, The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular religion and the English Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 48-50.

[20] Ibid, 17.

[21] Rex, 76.

[22] Majorie Plant, The English Book Trade: An Economic History of the Making and Selling of Books 3rd Ed. (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1974), 35-45.

[23] Rosemary O'Day, Education and Society 1500-1800: The social foundations of education in early modern Britain (London: Longman, 1982), 3.

[24] Ibid, 23-24.

[25] A. C. Dickens, Lollards and Protestants in the Diocese of York, 1509-1558 (London: Hambledon Press, 1982), 4-6.

[26] O' Day, 20-1.

[27] Dickens, Lollards and Protestants, 58-59.

[28] Patrick Collinson, The Birthpangs of Protestant England: religious and cultural change in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the third Austey memorial lectures in the University of Kent at Canterbury, 12-15 May 1986 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988), 95 and Rex, 104.

[29] Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450-1800. Trans. David Gerard. (London: Verso, 1976), 249-250.

[30] Ibid, 56.

[31] Anonymous, "The Lollard Conclusions". Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe. Ed. Edward Peters. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980), 277-281 and Margaret Deanesley, The Lollard Bible and Other Medieval Biblical Versions. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1920),257-258, 265, 282-283 and 374-376.

[32] A lot of scholarship has been done in this regard. On the initial repression of the Lollards after De haeretico comburendo (1401) in Peters, 212-215, see also Christopher Allmand, Henry V (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992), 280-306 and J. A. F. Thomson, The Later Lollards (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965) and Deanesley's work cited in n. 31 above.

[33] C. H. Williams, William Tyndale (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1969), 74.

[34] H. S. Bennett, English Books and Readers 1475 to 1557: Being a Study in the History of the Book Trade From Caxton to the Incorporation of the Stationers' Company (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), 160.

[35] Bible Translations: A History Through Source Documents. Ed. Roland H. Worth, Jr. (London: Mc Farland & Co., 1992), 75.

[36] Williams, 79-80 and Susan Doran and Christopher Durston, Princes, Pastors and People: The Church and Religion in England 1529-1689 (London: Routledge, 1991), 3.

[37] A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation, rev. ed. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Park, 1991, 90.

[38] Ibid, 66-67.

[39] Worth, 75.

[40] Ibid, 72-73.

[41] Ibid, 73.

[42] Dickens, English Reformation, 154-156.

[43] This particular author can either be identified by his real name, John Rogers or his pen name, Thomas Matthew. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to this man as John Rogers throughout the text of this paper.

[44] Dickens, The English Reformation, 156.

[45] Worth, 73 ("...the Kynges royall maiestye intended, that his louynge subiectes shulde haue and vse the commoditie of the readyng of the sayde Bybles, for the purpose aboue rehersed, humbly, mekely, reuerently and obediently; and not that any of them shulde reade the sayde Bybles, wyth lowde and hyghe voyces, in tyme of the celebracion of the holye Masse and other dyuyne seruyces vsed in the churche, nor that any hys lay subiectes redynge the same, shulde presume to take vpon them, any common dysputacyon, argumente or exposicyon of the mysteries therein conteyned, but that every suche laye man shulde humbly, mekely and reuerentlye reade the same, for his owne instruction, edification and amendment of hys lyfe accordynge to Goddes holy worde therein mentioned....").

[46] Collinson, Birthpangs of Protestant England, 95-96.

[47] Dickens, English Reformation, 154-156.

[48] Ibid, 152.

[49] Worth, 72-73.

[50] Dickens, English Reformation, 153-54 and Ibid, 77.

[51] Worth, 76.

[52] Plant, 50-51 and Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Canto Ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 161.

[53] The Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell, ed. Roger B. Merriman. 2 Vols, rev. ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), I, 32 and Worth, 75-76.

[54] Dickens, English Reformation, 156.

[55] Ibid, 156.

[56] Ibid, 154-56 and Bennett, 225-226.

[57] Bennett, 34.

[58] Merriman, I, 131-132.

[59] Worth, 73.

[60] Ibid, 73.

[61] Eisenstein, 162.

[62] This term has often been used to refer to Elizabeth I's religious policies. (See Doran and Durston, 181-182) Henry VIII also exhibited these same tendencies as well. (Note: I am not aware of any text that makes this claim.)

[63] Rex, 115-117.

[64] Doran and Durston, 15.

[65] John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 181-83.

[66] Doran and Durston, 15-16.

[67] Merriman, II, 144-146. ("and further his graces pleasure and high commawndment....")

[68] Stephenson, 311-12.

[69] Worth, 70-71.

[70] Eisenstein, 162.

[71] Bennett, 35-36.

[72] Rex, 115-17.

[73] Collinson, "Late Medieval Church", 239.

[74] Bennett, 35-36.

[75] Doran and Durston, 15-16.

[76] Moorman, 180-181.

[77] Bennett, 35-36.

[78] Doran and Durston, 18-20.

[79] Ibid, 18-20.

[80] Ibid, 17-18.

[81] Ibid, 3 and 18-20.

[82] Stephenson, 325-26.

[83] Ibid, 325-326.

[84] Ibid, 325-326.

[85] Dickens, English Reformation, 245.

[86] Ibid, 245.

[87] Ibid, 263.

[88] Dickens, Lollards and Protestants, 201-202 and Stephenson, 326-327.

[89] Doran and Durston, 78.

[90] Dickens, English Reformation, 263.

[91] Ibid, 280-281.

[92] Ibid, 280-281.

[93] James E. Oxley, The Reformation In Essex To the Death of Mary (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1965), 179 and Stephenson 328-330.

[94] Ibid, 180, Carolly Erickson, Bloody Mary (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1978), 254-256 and Ibid, 328-330.

[95] Ibid, 187-188 and Ibid, 254-256.

[96] Eisenstein, 180-181.

[97] Anne Somerset, Elizabeth I (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991), 73.

[98] Ibid, 173.

[99] Stephenson, 344-46.

[100] Ibid, 344-46.

[101] Doran and Durston, 20-21, Guy, 290-291 and Stephenson, 346-348.

[102] Stephenson, 346-48.

[103] Doran and Durston, 181-182.

[104] Somerset, 75-82; Carolly Erickson, The First Elizabeth (New York: Summit Books, 1983), 184-188.

[105] Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and Devil. Trans. Eileen Walliser-Schwartzburt. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 149-150, 157 and 186. (This note refers to Luther's state of mind before 1520.)

[106] Eisenstein, 180-181.

[107] Rex, 132.

[108] John Bossy, Christianity in the West 1400-1700. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 100-102.

[109] Whiting, 189 and Tessa Watt, Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 1-4.

[110] Bennett, 153.

[111] Ibid, 153.

[112] Jo Ann H. Moran, The Growth of English Schooling 1340-1548: Learning, Literacy, and Laicization in Pre-Reformation York Diocese (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 19 and Bennett, 70-71.

[113] Ibid, 195.

[114] Collinson, Birthpangs of English Protestantism, 95.

[115] Bennett, 67-68.

[116] Dickens, English Reformation, 214.

[117] Ibid, 72-73.

[118] Ibid, 72-73.

[119] Ibid, 154-55.

[120] Collinson, Birthpangs of Protestant England, 106.

[121] Ibid, 100-102.

[122] Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus. Christopher Marlowe: Complete Plays and Poems, ed. E. D. Pendry, et al. (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1976), 271-326. xx-xxii, 323-326.

[123] Dickens, Lollards and Protestants, 219-222.

[124] Ibid, 247.

[125] Bennett, 74.

[126] Dickens, English Reformation, 222-226.

[127] Ibid, 227-228.

[128] Bennett, 70.

[129] See Appendix 1 for the number of editions sold of this work.

[130] See Appendix 1 for the editions sold of this work.

[131] Febvre and Martin, 323-324.

[132] Guy, 302-303.

[133] Eisenstein, 180-181.

[134] Ibid, 180-181 and Bossy, 103-104.

[135] Guy, 302-303.

[136] K. Thomas, 128-131 and Somerset, 48-49.

[137] Guy, 302-303.

[138] Somerset, 48-49.

[139] Eisenstein, 151.

[140] Bossy, 99-100 and Guy, 302-303.

[141] Merriman, I, 5.

[142] Somerset, 48-49.

[143] Carolly Erickson, The First Elizabeth (New York: Summit Books, 1983), 127. ("...According to Foxe, she deflated the solemnity of the occasion by complaining peevishly about wetting her shoes on the stairs, and then sitting down in the rain and refusing to go farther, observing snappishly to her custodians that 'it was better sitting here, than in a worse place, for God knows, I know not whither you will bring me....") See also Somerset, in her Elizabeth I, 48-49.

[144] Rex, 73.

[145] Ibid, 90-91.

[146] Bennett, 74-75.

[147] O' Day, 20-23.

[148] Bennett, 160.

[149] Collinson, Birthpangs of Protestant England, 95-96.

[150] Febvre and Martin, 323-324.

[151] Ibid, 323-324.

[152] Oberman, 149-150, 157 and 186.

[153] Doran and Durston, 18-20.

[154] Somerset, 75-82 and Erickson, The First Elizabeth, 184-186.

[155] Bossy, 99-102.

[156] Guy, 302-303.

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