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The real foundations of the Reformation in England
on August 31, 2011
As an Episcopal priest, I'm constantly explaining to people that it wasn't really Henry VIII that started the Church of England so that he could get a divorce. He broke from the authority of Rome, yes, but he remained more or less a committed Catholic in spirituality and theology until his dying day.
People who know a bit more about Anglicanism's history consider that it is Elizabeth I who really got Anglicanism going, but McCulloch turns our attention gently towards Elizabeth's younger half-brother, Edward VI. It was during his reign that the first Books of Common Prayer were published, which firmly launched the church of the realm into Protestant directions. But Edward was just a boy, wasn't he? Wasn't he basically a puppet of his Protestant-minded minders? Well, yes and no. And the exploration of this point is, for me, the finest part of McCulloch's scholarship (which is top-notch, as usual).
This book is recommended for those who are very interested in the Reformation in England, but perhaps should only be read after books that treat of the entire era, such as English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors or The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580.