King James And Catholocism Essay

3451 words - 14 pages

English Catholicism had significantly changed by the time of James’s accession to the throne. Under Henry VIII, England broke away from the Catholic Church in Rome. The King was now the head of the Church of England. By the time Elizabeth came into power a substantial number of the population were still Catholic. Principled dissent to the Elizabethan Settlement came from two directions: Catholic and radical Protestant. Of the two the Roman Catholic menace seemed the more important and the government and the Church spent more time combating it. In this essay I will examine whether efforts to destroy English Catholicism during the Elizabethan era were successful. Traditionally, historians ...view middle of the document...

In addition, the ‘old religion’ was a regularly discussed amongst Elizabeth and her advisors, revealing that Catholicism was alive and vibrant contrary to traditional view. The Catholic community had not disappeared at the time of James’s accession. Many accounts of anti-Catholicism about this period concentrate particularly on the works of converts from Roman Catholicism. So there may be more a focus on those who had moved away from the Catholic Church rather than those who stayed with it . Some historians, for example, John Bossy argue that there was a discontinuity between pre-and post-Reformation Catholicism. He suggests that the Catholic missionary priests were heroes for revving Catholicism but after 1603 the English Catholic body had retreated from political engagements . However, this interpretation has been challenged and evidence does suggest that Catholicism was not revived. Christopher Haigh finds that there was a continuation of Catholicism and it had not become hopelessly fracture . While Catholicism faced a turbulent time during the Elizabethan, as I will discuss, it did not come through destroyed and there was still hope.

One of the preliminary problems Catholics faced under the Elizabethan regime was that the Traditional Church had always been firmly based on a structure of received authority, particularly clerical authority. In 1559 a purge of significant conservative clergy was undertaken and the Marian bishops vanished from sight once they had made their initial stand against the government, ending their days in house arrest of varying degrees of comfort. Over the next few years the remaining intellectual Catholics in the Universities left for continental exile, just as the Protestants had done under Mary. The ordinary clergy of traditionalist views were left behind and were accustomed to take orders from above, which meant they were in no position to fill the vacuum of leadership . It was assumed that English Catholicism would die down because of the lack of educated clergy and leadership. The Elizabethan government had hoped for such an outcome but this wishful thinking because Catholicism did not perish

During the Elizabethan period there was a substantial survival of Catholic belief and practice in parishes where ex-priests served. They were not particularly influenced by the Elizabethan Reformation so formed a reservoir of potential recruits for a separated Catholic Church, and even some ministers of the Church of England kept loyalty to Rome alive. For example; in 1575 curate of Guisborough did say that the Pope was and is the head of the Church, the vicar of Whalley, Lancashire dismissed the English Church and encouraged his parishioners to pray according to the doctrine of the Pope. So while many of the clergy joined the Church of England, it was clear that they promoted Catholic beliefs. Other clergy accepted the logic of such views and withdrew from their official Church. They offered Catholic sacraments to...

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