Finding The Ideal Religious System In England

1798 words - 7 pages

In the early seventeenth century, religion played an important role in England. Religion fueled many disputes, such as The English Civil War and the invasion of Scotland and Ireland. Law and customs were usually based on religion. Even the government was divided because of religious opinions. As the supreme religious authority monarchs were often in very difficult positions. They had to balance all the religious needs of their subjects, honor the established church, and take into account their own religious opinions. The resolves reached by monarchs were often flawed and always left some unhappy. Therefore monarchs were left searching for a perfect system that would please everyone, and unite their country.

Scottish monks introduced England to Catholic Christianity in the third century. England became an officially Catholic state as of the sixth century. It remained Catholic until 1536 when England split from the Roman Catholic Church. Henry VIII was king at the time; he founded the Anglican Church, and made it the official Church of England. Henry chose to split from the Church, because it refused to give him a divorce from his wife. Some people were happy with this decision. They resented the high Catholic taxes they had to pay, and many English were beginning to conform to Protestantism. However many people chose to stay catholic, and resented the Anglican Church. Other Protestant groups like the Puritans, believed that the Church of England should remove all of it’s catholic components, like bishops, rituals, and decoration. Another Scottish Protestant group known as the Presbyterians, believed that every individual church should function independently. All these groups had very different opinions, and they were all very eager to spread their beliefs.

After her father Elizabeth did a very good job in keeping religious peace. While all citizens were legally required to attend the services of the Church of England. People were still allowed to attend other churches as well. However all that changed when James I became King.

King James I was of Scottish decent and had a weak claim to the throne. Therefore he tried to please the general public by enforcing harsh laws on those who were not Anglican. He forced non-Anglicans to pay additional taxes, he forced Catholics to denounce the pope, and he also insisted on more decorations in the church. This Angered both the Puritans and the Catholics, and it made them resent the king. This resulted in several minor revolts and assassination attempts on the king. The most famous of, which being the gunpowder plot. The gunpowder plot, was an attempt to blow up the house of lords and the king. However the assassin Guy Fawkes was caught before the explosive could detonate. The plot had been Catholic, and was believed to trace back to the Pope himself. The goal was to force the monarch to give religious freedom. Surprisingly rather then cracking down on Catholics,...

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