Thea 360The English Reformation studied through the writings of the TimeThe Reformation in England started because Henry VIII wanted a male heir. When PopeClement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry,the English king declared in 1534 (by the Supremacy Act) that he alone should be the finalauthority in matters relating to the English church. I was interested in seeing how theliterature of the time, including dramatic literature reflected the progression of theReformation in England. One of the first books that marked the beginning of the Reformation was The New Testamenttranslated by William Tyndale. Tyndale was an English scholar who became a leading figurein the Protestant Reformation in the years leading up to his execution. In his New Testament,he translated the Bible from Hebrew texts and Erasmus's Greek New Testament (1516). In thepreface, he advocates that “humble people, including plowmen and women, be allowedaccess to the Bible in their native language.”1When he failed to get patronage in England forproduction, he moved to Germany, where it was printed at Worms in 1526. Then in 1528, inresponse to accusations that the Protestants wanted to overthrow the monarchy, he wrote TheObedience of a Christian Man. He says that inferior members of society must obey theirsuperiors, so children obey their parents and servants obey their masters. Subjects thus oweobedience to the King, who is only answerable to God. In writing so, Tyndale rejects theauthority of the Pope, whom he “vilifies as the Antichrist of Rome.”2When Anne Boleynshared her copy of The Obedience of a Christian Man with Henry VIII, he announced that“This is a book for me and all kings to read”. It was this book that gave him the confidence tobreak away from the Catholic Church and pass the Supremacy Act in 1534.
In 1535, the Miles Coverdale expanded on Tyndale’s Bible. Although the volume was printedin Antwerp without official authorization, the title page border crafted by Hans Holbein theYounger implied the existence of royal consent by portraying Henry VIII in the act ofhanding the Bible to bishops kneeling before him. Later on, he compiled the Great Bible in1539, which was the version used across parishes in England. The Dissolution of Monasteries was a set of administrative and legal procedures that werepassed between 1536 and 1541. Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, conventsand friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of theirassets, and provided for their former personnel and functions. Although the policy wasoriginally meant to increase the regular income of the Crown, a lot of former monasticproperty was sold off to fund the King’s military campaigns in the 1540s. So we see, thatEngland currently had a very volatile religious atmosphere. While the King had broken awayfrom the Church, he had done so for purely political reasons and still believed himself to be astaunch Catholic. There was no break with Rome on the matters of dogma and the King