The Church of England and the Puritans

King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII


Unable to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII decided to take the matter into his own hands.  In 1534, he denounced Catholicism and formed the Church of England.

King Henry VIII was disappointed that his wife had not provided a male heir.  He’d also fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, and hoped the child she carried was the long waited for male heir.

As we now know from history, King Henry VIII did divorce his wife and take not one more wife, but married five additional times. The child Anne Boleyn carried would later become Queen Elizabeth I.

When the Catholic Church refused an annulment, Henry retaliated.  He disbanded numerous monasteries, convents and other churches.   Some historians state that “one adult man in fifty was in religious orders.”

Edward VI
Edward VI

Although he established the Church of England, King Henry VIII still held strongly onto the

traditional Catholic practices and traditions.  He did not allow these to be changed while he was still alive.

More mayhem followed after the death of King Henry VIII.  His son with Jane Seymour, King Edward VI, allowed more Protestant forms of worship to be adopted.  King Edward VI reigned for six years before dying at the age of fifteen.

Queen MaryFollowing the death of King Edward VI, his half-sister, Mary became queen.  She was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.  Mary and her mother were both deeply religious and Catholic.  Mary fought for the restoration of the Catholic Church in England.  Her executions of Protestants earned her the name Bloody Mary.  She ruled for five years as Queen before her death from illness.

After the death of Queen Mary, her half-sister, Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth I.   Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  Elizabeth was a Protestant, although she maintained some Catholic traditions and symbols. Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I sought to find a balance to the Protestant’s and Catholic’s, not wanting to offend either side.

In 1559, Parliament passed legislation for the Church of England.

Queen Elizabeth I ruled for forty-four years until her death.  Upon her death, King James VI of Scotland, a distant cousin, became King James I of England.  His accession to the English throne, created the United Kingdom and united England and Scotland.

King James IKing James I of England ordered the creation of what we know today as the King James Bible.  He served as King of England for twenty-three years.  He had served as King James VI of Scotland for thirty-six years before ascending to the English throne.

By the early 1600s, those that separated from the Church of England faced persecution, imprisonment and even death.

The Puritan movement felt the Church of England and the Catholic Church were still too similar.

Some of these Puritans took it further and became known as Separatists.

William Brewster led a group of the Separatists Church in Scrooby, England.  However, King James I of England made life unbearable.  The group tried to leave several times, but in 1607 they finally sold their homes and walked over fifty miles to meet a ship.  The group relocated to Amsterdam, Holland where they would relocated for the next decade.

This group would later become part of the Pilgrims to the New World.

Next week: More about life in England

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