The English Reformation Essay

1194 words - 5 pages

The book I chose to review for this assignment is entitled The English Reformation by author A. G. Dickens. The book describes the processes that led to religious transformations and provides an excellent overview on the Reformation in England. The work thoroughly analyzes the political, economical and social aspects of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. The English Reformation, first published in 1964 is a great source of information for anyone who is interested in the history of the religious transition and change.
The author of The English Reformation aims to analyze and explain the complex processes that have taken place during the reign of Henry VIII and his successors. He investigates the background and defines conditions for the religious transformation. A. G. Dickens set out to carefully examine the complex processes of the English Reformation by describing the state of the religious affairs in the late medieval England. He believes that traditional catholic religion was to some extent based on superstitious beliefs and folk‘s legends. He begins his book by telling a story of a knight who robs passing travelers but maintains a pious vigil to Virgin Mary. His devotion to Holy Mother professed by his daily prayers saves him physically and spiritually. The knight is warned of the mortal danger and allowed to change his conducts. It seems that these kinds of legends mixed with Christian sentiments were commonly absorbed by people. A. G. Dickens writes: “…its effort to attain salvation through devout observance, its fantastic emphasis on saints, relics and pilgrimages...” (4). These views were contrasted with the ideas of Lollards and the teachings of John Wycliffe. Their emphasis on sole authority of the Scriptures from which they wanted to recover an authentic sense of the person and spirit of Jesus clashed with the view that equals the church tradition with that of the Scriptures (25). At the end, the church prosecution, the lack of national organization and the proletarian character of Lollardy stifled the movement (32, 25). However, the Lollards helped further the protestant cause in the following decades by individualizing the relationship with God. Their contribution was seen as an early dissent from which the English Reformation could ascend. Their ideas and criticism were not forgotten by the later reformers (36). The author states: "Conversely, by this time Protestant intellectuals had begun to see Lollard writings as serviceable additions to their arsenal of Reformation-propaganda.”(37). The book examines and explains all the forces that fueled the English Reformation. We learn that the royal divorce was not the only cause for the religious transformation. The conflict between the church and state began much earlier and had a distinctively national character. The ideas of Protestant Reformers combined with Henry’s dynastic concerns and expanding influence of Spain spurred the English...

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