Theatre History Paper .docx - Thea 360 The English...

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Thea 360 The English Reformation studied through the writings of the Time The Reformation in England started because Henry VIII wanted a male heir. When Pope Clement 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 final authority in matters relating to the English church. I was interested in seeing how the literature of the time, including dramatic literature reflected the progression of the Reformation in England. One of the first books that marked the beginning of the Reformation was The New Testament translated by William Tyndale. Tyndale was an English scholar who became a leading figure in 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 the preface, he advocates that “humble people, including plowmen and women, be allowed access to the Bible in their native language.” 1 When he failed to get patronage in England for production, he moved to Germany, where it was printed at Worms in 1526. Then in 1528, in response to accusations that the Protestants wanted to overthrow the monarchy, he wrote The Obedience of a Christian Man. He says that inferior members of society must obey their superiors, so children obey their parents and servants obey their masters. Subjects thus owe obedience to the King, who is only answerable to God. In writing so, Tyndale rejects the authority of the Pope, whom he “vilifies as the Antichrist of Rome.” 2 When Anne Boleyn shared 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 to break 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 printed in Antwerp without official authorization, the title page border crafted by Hans Holbein the Younger implied the existence of royal consent by portraying Henry VIII in the act of handing the Bible to bishops kneeling before him. Later on, he compiled the Great Bible in 1539, which was the version used across parishes in England. The Dissolution of Monasteries was a set of administrative and legal procedures that were passed between 1536 and 1541. Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former personnel and functions. Although the policy was originally meant to increase the regular income of the Crown, a lot of former monastic property was sold off to fund the King’s military campaigns in the 1540s. So we see, that England currently had a very volatile religious atmosphere. While the King had broken away from the Church, he had done so for purely political reasons and still believed himself to be a staunch Catholic. There was no break with Rome on the matters of dogma and the King

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