Reformation in England Chronology        

Notes from Merle d'Aubigne Volumes 1 and 2 (from 200 to 1547 AD)
      and others (from 1547 to 1558)

  200 Tertullian wrote, "Parts of Britain were inaccessible to the Romans but have yielded to Christ."
  290~ Alban, Aaron and Julius were martyred by Diocletian.
  305 Council of Elvira (canon 33) forbids all bishops, priests and deacons to be married.
  313 Edict of Milan Constantine decriminalized Christian worship. For next 24 years compromised Christianity with state rule/religion. Only baptised just before death.
  321 Constantine makes Sunday (Roman Sun god, which he continued to worship) official day of rest.
  402 'Marriage' of state and church caused rapid downfall. By 404 Patriarch became authoritative Pope. They wore expensive apparel, much pomp, prayed to saints and to Mary (called ‘queen of heaven
  449 Saxons invade. Christians driven back into Cornwall, Wales and Cumberland.
  563 Columba, on Iona, maintained "The Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith. Throw aside all merit of works, and look for salvation to the grace of God alone." Iona became a missionary college.
  590~ Pope Gregory maintained that the whole church should submit to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Rome.
  596 Augustine sent to England with 40 missionaries, appointed Archbishop. 1000's baptised. But British Church would not give up their independence. By devious means Wilfrid and then Theodore and Hadrian eventually succeeded in persuading the Britains and Iona to acknowledge the authority of Rome.
  871 Alfred attempted to bring Christian education and the Scriptures in English to his people.
1066 William, the Norman conqueror, gains England and forbids his clergy to recognise a Pope.
1093 William II appoints Rufus to the primacy of Canterbury, who recognises Pope Urban II, demanded the estates of his see, refused to pay the king, forbade priests to take feudal oath, and confirmed their celibacy.
1096 Eight Crusades during next 200 years showed truth that Christian converts are not won by the sword, and Almighty God is angered by anti-semitism.  2 Co 104 and Gen 123
1213 King John became a vassal to the Pope (1000 marks/year) after being excommunicated threatened by French attack.
1215 Barons force John to sign Magna Carta, but with John's help, the Pope soon triumphs throughout Britain.
1229 Waldensians forbidden to preach or read from their (French) Bible. Only priests allowed Latin Bible. Thousands slain / tortured. 40 years later Cromwell raised massive half million £’s to support them.
1345~ Bradwardine converted by hearing Scripture. His lectures at Merton, Oxford were eagerly attended. By various laws Edward III resisted the Pope.
1360 Wycliffe, Master of Balliol, preached the doctrine of faith and stirred all to read Scripture. He likewise resisted the Pope, whom he denounced as the Antichrist!
1365 Parliament decides that the Pope had no rights over the Church or the State in England. Monks resist 'poor priests' that Wycliffe sent out to preach the truth from Scripture.
1381 Wycliffe began preaching against transubstantiation. This was a step too far for many. Translated the 4 Gospels into English. The 'Morning Star' of the Reformation died 1384. Hated by Rome, 47 years later his bones were burned and ashes scattered in river by the Bishop of Lincoln.  Too late!!
1394 Lollards petition parliament to abolish celibacy, transubstantiation, prayers for the dead, offerings to images, auricular confession. This led to their persecution.
1399 Henry IV ascends throne. Two years later an Act was passed that allowed heretics (Lollards) to be burnt. William Sawtre was convicted for saying, "Instead of adoring the cross on which Christ suffered, I adore Christ who suffered on it." He was burned alive; the first of a 'noble army'. The priests then drew up the 'Articles of Arundel' which forbade the translation or the reading of Scripture without a bishop's licence. The Lollards Tower was soon filled.
1413 Archbishop denounces Lord Cobham to Henry V. He had said, "I am willing to believe all that God desires; but that the pope should have authority to teach what is contrary to Scripture - that I can never believe." He was convicted, escaped to Wales till 1417 and then suspended by chains over a slow fire until he died.
1415 The Bohemian, John Huss embraced the teaching of Wycliffe at Prague University, where the majority were greatly encouraged by the truth of Scripture. Rome objected and arrested Huss, although he had been given a safe passport. He died in Constance after praying for his enemies, committing himself to his Saviour and singing a hymn until the flames consumed his mortal flesh. His fellow countryman, Jerome, was likewise arrested and chained. Although in a moment of weakness he abjured the truth, he soon renounced his recantation and spoke boldly against the errors of Rome and for the truth of God. He was burned at the same spot as Huss singing to his Lord and Master.
1501 Henry VII arranges marriage of the Catholic Catherine of Aragon (age 16 and very rich) daughter of Ferdinand, king of Spain, to his eldest son, Arthur(age 15). But Ferdinand first required the death of Warwick, the last of the Plantagenets who was confined to the Tower. Henry agreed. Arthur died 6 months after their marriage. The covetous Henry VII did not wish to forfeit the dowery of 200,000 crowns (half of which had already been paid; so he arranged a Papal dispensation that would allow Catherine to marry Arthur's younger brother (who would become Henry VIII). Many in England did not think the Pope had the authority to allow what God had forbidden. Lev 2021 The young Henry didn't like the idea either.
1509 Henry VIII becomes king and is persuaded to marry Catherine of Aragon. Both enjoyed scholarship. The young king was in harmony with Scotland, Spain, France, Italy and the Pope.
1513 The warlike Pope wanted him to attack Louis XII of France. Henry dreamed of Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt - and glory. After a minor victory he returned to England. Louis was a widower and 53 but desired to marry Henry's sister Mary (aged 18). They were married the following year. Louis died within 6 months. The delighted Mary returned to England.
1515 Wolsey had great ability and great ambition - a dangerous combination. His poor morals were not unusual for his day - he had numerous illegitimate children. Made bishop of Lincoln and York, but not satisfied. He refused to be inferior to Wareham, Archbishop of Canterbury. Wareham resigned as Lord Chancellor. Pope makes Wolsey a Cardinal. He also gained the seals of Lord Chancellor. 3 years later he was appointed papal legate. Wolsey then administered almost everything in church and state. His extreme arrogance soon caused all England to hate him.
1516 Erasmus published first complete Greek New Testament that he had colleted from a variety of sources. From it he also published a compatible Latin version, which was far better than the Latin Vulgate. He saw that consistent and accurate New Testaments in Greek and Latin was essential for the church. Further editions with parallel columns were produced in 1522 and later. It was used by Tyndale for his translation into English. Among many others this work of Erasmus led to the conversion of Thomas Bilney and William Tyndale.

Richard Hunne, a merchant-tailor, refused to pay the priests an exorbitant mortuary fee for one of his children. The priests accused him of heresy but the judges were unable to convict him. So the bellringer, the jailor and the Bishop's chancellor conspired to murder him and made it look like suicide.

1517 John Browne was told by an arrogant traveller that he was a 'soul-priest'. He asked him where the souls were before and after the Mass, the offended priest could not say. 3 days later he was arrested and thrown into prison for 40 days. He was then tried by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Rochester for doubting that the Mass could save souls. John replied "Christ was once offered to take away the sins of many. It is by this sacrifice we are saved, and not by the repetitions of the priests." They placed his feet on red-hot coals but John was unshaken. He was condemned to be burnt alive at Ashford.

The priests continued their march of hatred and set their aim at Erasmus. He wisely left England and began work in a Basle printing office. There he published the New Testament in Greek with a new Latin translation. What he could no longer do for England with his tongue he determined to do with the Word. It soon spread to many of the eager scholars in London, Cambridge and Oxford. The priests were furious. This book calls on men to repent instead of requiring them to do penance as the Vulgate commands. What if the king should endorse this Greek / Latin New Testament? Nothing terrifies the defenders of human traditions so much as the Word of God. Lee who became archbishop of Canterbury sent many bribes and letters to all the monasteries warning them of these 'errors'.

Meanwhile in Cambridge Thomas Bilney having failed to gain from the priests any assurance of forgiveness, procured an Erasmus New Testament. His doubts soon ended. "Yes, Jesus Christ saves!", he exclaimed. A witness to Christ was born by the same power that transformed Paul, Apollos and Timothy and all true saints. And in Oxford where Erasmus had many friends, another man read his book, at first captivated by the beautiful Latin. His name was William Tyndale. He soon found a Master that he had not sought, the Lord Almighty. His new teaching raised objections so he went to Cambridge. There he met with John Fryth and Thomas Bilney.

1518 The priests did not attack the universities much at first, but concentrated on easier targets. Thomas Man was arrested a second time for preaching Christ. He was condemned and burnt alive at Smithfield.
1519 In Coventry lived a small band of serious humble Christians - 4 shoemakers, a glover, a hosier and a widow. They each gave their children a pious education. The Franciscans were annoyed that they should know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the 10 Commandments in English. All the parents were condemned to be burnt.

Maximilian died and the imperial crown became vacant. Henry VIII, Francis I (France) and Charles V (Spain) each wanted to wear Caesar's crown. Wolsey wanted the papal tiara, so he encouraged Henry! Charles gained the crown, but he had to pay 1,500,000 gold florins for it!

1521 Henry VIII writes a thesis against Luther with help from the Bishop of Rochester. His main thrust was the true value of the sacraments and church tradition. Thomas More suggested he be less in favour of papal supremacy. Henry refused. The Pope was delighted with it and gave Henry the title 'Defender of the Faith'. In order to prove his new title, Henry agreed to persecute the poor believers in Lincolnshire who met in each others homes to learn from Scripture. Four were burnt to death including John Scrivener, who had transported the precious Word from cottage to cottage and barn to barn.
1522 Wolsey attempted to gain the vacant papal throne - and failed, in spite of his many and various intrigues.
1523 Tyndale had to leave Sir John Walsh in Gloucestershire - the priests were determined to stop his translation work. He went to see Tunstall, the Bishop of London and a friend of Erasmus, hoping to become one of his chaplains. Tunstall refused, but God provided for his servant the home of a wealthy merchant, Humphrey Monmouth, who was a believer. John Fryth, his friend from Cambridge, joined him and the translation work went ahead well. Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, strongly urged Tunstall to arrest several men in London who met to read the scriptures. Tyndale decided to leave England and sailed to Germany so he could continue his work in relative safety.

Pope Adrian VI died and again Wolsey was determined to succeed him. Thankfully he failed; as this may have shackled England under the Roman yoke for many years. Wolsey began a deadly hatred for Emperor Charles V, he was to blame for his second defeat. At home he had to raise finance for his various schemes. But the Commons refused his demand for 4 shillings in the Pound (20%) and voted a far smaller sum.

1524 Latimer had taken his Masters degree in classics at Cambridge in 1514, and then began to study theology. An ardent papist, he observed with disgust how some young students spent more time reading Scripture than with the college tutors and doctors. In 1524 he gave his doctorate lecture on Philip Melanchthon and his doctrines. One of those listening was Thomas Bilney, who determined to win him for Christ. But how? Bilney went to Latimer and asked him to hear his confession. He agreed. So in simplicity Bilney related how he had sought peace with God and only found it when he believed that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He described the spirit of adoption he had received and why he could now call God his Father! Latimer listened with a heart opened by the Holy Spirit. He saw Jesus Christ as the only Saviour given to man. It was not the penitent, but the confessor who received absolution that evening! Latimer viewed with horror the obstinate war he had waged against God and his Word; and wept bitterly. Bilney consoled him with the truth, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Latimer was a new man. Many in Cambridge were moved by this transformation. Young students flocked to hear Bilney preach. While Tyndale led England with his writings, Latimer led with his speaking by his tender conscience, warm zeal, lively understanding and keen wit. He preached in Latin to the clergy and English to the people. The two godly men formed a great bond of friendship. They studied, discussed and prayed. And they spent much time visiting the sick, the poor and those in prison - telling them clearly of the full forgiveness of God through Christ alone. Such a fine witness also generated hatred among the blind and deaf priests.
1525 Wolsey demanded 1/6 of the income of laity and even more from the clergy. So 4,000 men from the Eastern counties rose up with arms. Wolsey did not get his money.

Tyndale had worked hard and finished his New Testament in English. Printing started in Cologne. But the secret was discovered, so Tyndale left quickly with his manuscripts and sailed up the Rhine to Worms where the 3000 copies were completed.

In Cambridge Bilney, Latimer and Stafford continued to proclaim the truth of scripture. Then Robert Barnes was converted. He had been the subject of much prayer by Bilney and some discussions. Barnes invited Latimer to preach at his monastery since he was forbidden to preach in Cambridge by West, the bishop of Ely. But the boldness of Barnes was greater than his wisdom which nearly caused calamity to the evangelical church.

In Oxford a similar hunger for the Word was fed by faithful men like John Clark and Anthony Dalaber. Ironically Wolsey had also invited several Christians to his new college including John Fryth! Supported by the King, the bishops made war against them, but the Word of God prevailed. While Latin and Greek was good for the young doctors and students, the people needed the Scriptures in English. Tyndale's New Testament was in high demand. Just as the first shipment from Antwerp arrived in England, Tunstall was sent away as ambassador to Spain, Wolsey was occupied in dealings with Scotland, France and Spain. So there were no guards to stop the precious cargo. Thomas Garret, curate of All Hallows, Cheapside, distributed the volumes all over the land. He even took some to Oxford where he had studied earlier and with Dalaber, sold them to students.

1526 Church and state are symbiotic. The church needs the state to provide stability, justice and liberty; the state needs the church to provide truth, salvation, godliness and compassion. Sin invariably dilutes or even dissolves justice. Henry VIII did not bring or even cause the Reformation in England; indeed he opposed it till he died. The Reformation was a move by the Lord Almighty bringing the Word of truth concerning Christ crucified for our sins and Christ raised from the dead to bring us eternal life. Henry rejected the authority of the Pope because it challenged his kingship and power, but he continued to embrace all the Catholic traditions. He also claimed and enjoyed the revenue that had previously been paid to Rome. The church tried to rule the state and Henry said No!

Wolsey sent two of his agents, a chaplain and Gibson, his sergeant-at-arms, to Cambridge. They searched the rooms of Bilney, Latimer, Stafford, Arthur and 26 other suspects. Being warned of their arrival, they had all moved their 'forbidden' books. Gibson was furious, but his instructions were to seize the books and arrest their owners. So no books, no arrests. Only Barnes was taken on different charges. Taken before Wolsey, Barnes eventually fell to their threats but was still imprisoned in the London Augustine monastery. One day he was reading with some friends in his chamber when 2 peasants entered. They already had some volumes containing the Gospels, so Barnes sold them a new Testament in English. When the clergy heard of this he was taken to Northampton to be burnt, but managed to escape to Germany. Tunstall and Wagner issued a mandate that all books that contained any part of the New Testament should be seized. The search began and they found a smaller (and thus more dangerous) volume printed in Antwerp.

Wolsey's hatred of Charles V had fermented over 3 years, now with Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, he began to remind Henry of the perils incurred by his marriage to Catherine (for whom he had gained a growing affection) - the holiness of his life (having his brother's wife, albeit with Papal dispensation) and his succession (as yet, no son, so likely to lead to civil war). When the unsuspecting, devout Catherine heard of this she was distraught and made great efforts to inform her uncle Charles V. Wolsey's plan was beginning to gel; but it would soon turn in a most unplanned direction. Sir Thomas Boleyn had been created Viscount Rochford a year earlier and was constantly at court with his daughter Anne, a real beauty who displayed great modesty and charm, wit and skill. She also had a heart that favoured the Reformation and read much. Henry who was depressed by the problems with Catherine was soon captivated. But Anne told him that she was unworthy, he already had a queen and she would not become his mistress. She continued to show him respect, but soon left court.

1527 Luther wrote a second open letter to Henry after his first letter went astray. Henry's self esteem was wounded and the bishops were quick to utilise it to persecute the Reformation leaders. Latimer was summoned before Wolsey but his learning and presence of mind procured his dismissal. Bilney was also summoned and told not to preach Luther's doctrines. He agreed but added that he must preach the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Bilney and Thomas Arthur preached the truth in Norwich with vigour and courage. Bilney was arrested and taken to London. Then Arthur was thrown into the same prison. Tunstall condemned him as a heretic but did not wish to see him burnt and delayed execution. Bilney's friends crowded the prison; they did not encourage him to be strong. They weren't true friends and Bilney fell (as Arthur had also done earlier). It was a bad day for the true church. Four years later a revived Bilney was again preaching the truth with renewed vigour in the fields (no longer licenced to preach in any church). He also distributed the New Testament. When Thomas More heard of this, he had him arrested. He was tried by the bishop of Norwich, condemned and burnt at the stake in Norwich. He died a true and honest martyr for Christ.

John Raimond printed a 4th edition of Tyndale's New Testament and sent it to England in sacks of corn. The priests discovered a few and Raimond was flung into prison. Most of the 500 copies had been distributed. Anne Boleyn often withdrew to her rooms at Greenwich or Hampton Court to study the Gospel, and did not hide the pleasure she found in her reading.

Henry pointed to Lev 1816 2021 and asked Thomas More if his marriage was contrary to the laws of God. More wisely replied that he was not a theologian and the king should ask the doctors. Henry did so. But Wolsey was most alarmed because if Henry married Anne, his job was clearly on the line and the Reformation would receive a big boost. Wolsey at least pretended to support the kings desire for divorce. Henry told him, "Declare the divorce yourself, has not the Pope named you his vicar-general." Wolsey replied that if he did, the queen (Catherine) would appeal to the Pope. So began several years of wrangling and delay and threats. Henry VIII, Pope Clement VII, Charles V and Cardinal Wolsey plotted and sent their various ambassadors back and forth each with their own ambitions and counter motives.

Among those whom Robert Barnes had trained was Miles Coverdale. Cromwell now exhorted this Cambridge student to apply himself to the study of sacred learning. So he turned to the Scriptures and read them again and again. Like Tyndale, in so doing, he found Christ and true life. He concluded that the reformation of the church could only be effected by the Word of God.

1528 Archbishop Wareham, bishop Tunstall and Lord Chancellor Wolsey (also Papal Legate) saw Tyndale's English New Testament as being a major threat to Rome and their own standing. They determined to destroy it. Garret was not to be found in London; he was in Oxford. After various escapes and capture they arrested him, with Dalaber, Clark, Fryth, and about 20 others and threw them into prison. A great fire was built and each man was forced to bear a faggot. All the so called 'heretical' books they found in their lodgings were then burnt. On this occasion the men were not added to the fire! But they were sent back to their filthy dungeon. Clark, Summer, Bayley and Goodman died 6 months later, such was the cruelty of Rome. Wolsey ordered the others to be released, but they were to stay within 10 miles of Oxford.

The 'Black Death' struck England, as it had Europe. In 4 days 2000 persons died in London. Thomas More's daughter, Margaret and Anne Boleyn caught the plague, but Anne was one of the few God destined to recover.

John Fryth left the confines of Oxford and joined Tyndale on the Continent. There he worked with him for 2 years on translating the Old Testament.

More the honourable, but staunchly Catholic statesman and scholar, had a literary battle with Tyndale.

1529 Pope Clement VII became very ill. Wolsey is once again consumed with desire for the tiara and would do anything to gain it. But Clement didn't die! And Wolsey was unable to gain any bull from Rome to gain a divorce for Henry. His perfidy was catching up with him.

Tunstall, More and Knight went to Cambray to conclude a peace deal with Charles and France. Tunstall remained in Antwerp to search for Tyndale. He managed to buy a batch of New Testaments through a merchant named Packington. Tyndale moved to Hamburg, but lost his remaining books and manuscripts in a storm at sea. There he met Coverdale. They decided it would be best to translate separately. No doubt Coverdale obtained Tyndale's latest translation, since his 'Great Bible' is >75% Tyndale's work.

Henry was tired of waiting for a settlement and demanded that Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio sit to judge the matter. Catherine made two simple, wise and impassioned speeches to the court and appealed to the Pope. Wolsey was angry, Campeggio was delighted as he had been instructed by Clement to "advance slowly and never finish". Everyone was against Wolsey - Catherine, Anne, Clement and Henry. Knowing his end was near, Wolsey had a sudden interest in his see in York, but he remained in London. Worse was to follow. The Pope and Charles proclaimed peace; but Wolsey had told Henry that an agreement between England, France and Clement was near. Henry was furious and Wolsey was to blame. And now to cap it all the Pope summoned the proud English King Henry VIII to go to Rome!! Rome tried to make England submit, so Henry cast off Rome. He decided that neither the Pope or his legate would have any further jurisdiction upon these shores.

Thomas Cranmer had studied at Cambridge. Being an honest, straightforward man who desired the truth, it was not long before God revealed that the only infallible source of wisdom and truth was to be found in the Scriptures. Soon he began to teach "Christ sendeth his hearers to the Scriptures, not to the Church." Gardener and Foxe met him 'by chance' at Waltham Abbey and told Henry, who immediately sent for him. Finding him timid, and with not an ounce of guile (such a contrast to Wolsey), Henry took to him and respected his devotion to the Scriptures for solving all problems for the rest of his life. He told him to go and find God's answer to his marriage/divorce problem.

Meanwhile Wolsey was made to surrender the broad seal, his palace and all his many possessions - and told to go to a simple house in Esher. He was a miserable man. How are the mighty fallen? Henry allowed him to travel north - he hadn't been to his see since being made Archbishop of York in 1514. Within a few months he died saying "the king must know that if he tolerates heresy, God will take away his power, and we shall then have mischief upon mischief ... barrenness, scarcity and disorder to the utter destruction of this realm." He spoke the truth, but his view of heresy is not the same as what Scripture describes. "Where there is no revelation (of the Word of God), the people cast off restraint" Prov 2918

To replace Cardinal Wolsey, Henry chose Sir Thomas More as his new Lord Chancellor. He quickly laid before Henry that 'no one should preach, or write any book, or keep any school without his bishop's licence'. Books by Tyndale, Zwingli, Fryth, Lambert were banned, and easpecially the Scriptures in English. Persecution came soon enough. Thomas Hitton, a merchant who imported New Testaments from Antwerp was the first to be burnt in Feb 1530. More himself, accompanied by the Lieutenant of the Tower, searched many of the suspected houses. One such was John Petit who died after excessive cruelty in prison a year later. Men like Bilney, Bainham, Bayfield and Tewkesbury would soon die at the hand of More and Henry.

Rome liked to exercise political or civil power as well as ecclesiastical. Cromwell had been Wolsey's solicitor-general for 9 years. Now he boldly sought audience with Henry and suggested that:
      Every Englishman should be master of his house.
      The English should not pay taxes to Rome, but trust parliament to put the money to good use here.
      Proclaim yourself head of the church in England.
Cromwell knew that Henry's divorce was not the most vital problem facing this country. Henry should declare England independent for the glory of England and its monarch! No one had dared say such thing before. Henry was pleased and immediately gave him a ring. Soon he was a made a member of the Privy Seal and a member of Parliament (that had not met for 7 years). Henry and Parliament would combine to do much to reform abuses in both Church and State. But it should never be forgotten that the Reformation in England was to come from the Word of God being revealed, not from the civil power of the king of his parliament. It must also be remembered that Henry's motive was to arrest the power of Rome in England and increase his own. He remained Catholic in doctrine and never sought to enhance the Reformation for the purpose of bringing his subjects to faith in Christ Jesus.

The bishops made a petition to the king. Henry agreed that no one should be permitted to preach, publish a book or keep any school without his bishop's licence. No one should keep any 'heretical book' in his house (including the English New Testament!). And finally that the bishop should detain any offenders in prison at his discretion and then proceed to punishment. Latimer and others opposed this, but they were a minority. Henry thought that the teaching of the priests was sufficient for the people.

1530 A new wave of persecution started. The clergy sought the banned books everywhere. Thomas Hitton, a poor and righteous minister from Kent frequently travelled to Antwerp to purchase New Testaments, was arrested at Gravesend. He repeated, "Salvation cometh by faith and not by works, and Christ giveth it to whosoever he willeth." He was burnt to death at the stake in Maidstone.

Henry send Gardener and Fox to Cambridge to gain their approval for his divorce. The University was divided. Politicians only saw the divorce issue, but both Romanists and evangelicals saw the real issue as being the authority of Rome. Gardener eventually managed to gain approval on the grounds that the Word of God should govern the decision, not the Pope. And Scripture was clear in that a man may not marry his brother's wife. Oxford was even less willing to give Henry his desired approval, who had to write a threatening letter to the young doctors. A slim majority was eventually obtained. Gardener held a solemn mass of the Holy Spirit to celebrate. But most delegates had either heeded the dictates of the King or the dictates of Rome; few had sought or heard Christ. Henry sought approval from France and even the Reformers, thinking they would side with him against Rome. But Luther said that the king had sinned by marrying his brother's wife, but having married her, he was bound to her as one flesh. The Pope continued to delay any decision concerning the divorce.

Latimer had been made a chaplain to the king and was consistent in preaching the truth, but realised the need for prudence. He rightly feared for the church to be under Henry's control almost as much as under Rome. He wrote to Henry concerning his need of personal salvation and pleaded for him to remember his promise to allow the scriptures to be published in English. Henry was not offended, but neither did he act on either of Latimer's appeals. In spite of attempts by Roman clergy to discredit Latimer before the King, Henry liked his forthright speaking that was always given with respect. He spoke always remembering that both King and chaplain were mere men bowed before Almighty God.

1531 Henry needed men who would resist the power of the Pope. He even sent a message to Tyndale asking him to return to England. Tyndale rightly mistrusted his word about safe passage, which could easily be revoked as any promise to a heretic was not binding. Besides, he knew that Henry only wanted political reform (more power for himself and less for Pope and clergy), not spiritual reform where the Word of God was the supreme authority that revealed Christ as the sole means of forgiveness. Henry was angry at the boldness of evangelicals and the truth they proclaimed.

He held a convocation of bishops to declare that he was head of the church under God. Having seen what had happened to Wolsey, no one resisted. They were also willing to surrender £119,000 for exceeding their powers in previous years. These two decisions had a huge affect on the future of England. On the back of the Universities recommendations concerning his divorce, Henry also gained the approval of Parliament. When Catherine was told, she said, "Tell the king I say I am still his lawful wife ..." Though the bishops had lost much power and wealth they were determined in their hatred of the Reformation. Henry did not contest their persecution. Richard Bayfield was chained to a prison wall for importing Tyndale’s New Testament. Bishop Stokesley’s court ordered him to be burned. Thomas More positively encouraged such reaction, as proven by his action towards John Tewkesbury. He was taken to More’s house and cruelly racked because he transported Bibles from Holland and because of his repeated cry, "Christ Alone." He was then condemned and burnt at Smithfield. These were not the only men who gave their lives rather than deny Christ. There can be no doubt that their sacrifice has been our great gain.

1532 Thomas Cromwell was as energetic as he was skilled at fulfilling the King's demands. He persuaded Parliament to take from the Church courts their independent legislation. At their consecration Bishops swore allegiance to the Pope, but at the same time they swore an oath to the King. Now these oaths were contradictory. One must go; and it was the oath to the Pope that went.

The Commons played a vital part in the power struggle between the King and the Prelates of England as to who controlled the Church. The First Act of Annates abolished the payments made by Bishops to the Pope when they took possession of their sees. All such acts as these drastically reduced the power of Rome in England, but did nothing to correct the gross errors of Roman doctrine and practice, nor to advance the Reformation. Henry only wanted to substitute the authority of Rome with his own authority, which did nothing to advance the righteousness of the church. After considerable struggle, the Church Convocation surrendered and signed the Submission of the Clergy on 15th May. But the power over the Church in England could have been put in far better hands than that of the anti-Reformation Henry.

The next day Thomas More realised that he could not serve both King and Pope. Refusing financial bribes, he resigned the Lord Chancellor’s seals. This was the reason for his resignation, not Henry’s desire to marry Ann Boleyn. Henry gave the seals to Sir Thomas Audley, a man well disposed towards the Gospel.

Latimer was increasing hated for his witty and well directed preaching of the truth. He wearied of Court and went to minister in a small parish near Bristol. But the hounds were still baying and he was summoned to appear before Bishop Stokesley and the Archbishop and repeatedly asked to sign 16 articles - purgatory, invocation of saints, merit of pilgrimages, power of the keys ... Latimer refused each time and appealed to the King. What was said in his audience with Henry is uncertain, but the sentence of ex-communication was withdrawn and he returned to his parish a deeply troubled man.

James Bainham was a distinguished lawyer who was respected for his piety, and many times he sought justice for widows and orphans. He was an earnest reader of scripture. Thomas More had arrested him the previous year and put him to the rack to try to break his faith in Christ. Though whipped and tortured, he remained true to his eternal Master. When before Stokesley he was asked, "Do you believe in purgatory?" Bainham answered, "The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin." And when asked about prayer to the saints he replied, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ the righteous." They hated any man who only answered by quoting Scripture. To Pave, the clerk in charge of the execution the resolute Bainham said, "God forgive thee and show thee more mercy than thou showest me. The Lord forgive Sir Thomas More."

Warham died. Who would be the next Archbishop? Henry decided it should be Cranmer, who was married and who loved the quiet peaceful life studying the Word. He concluded, "I see nothing but troubles and conflicts and insurmountable dangers in my path." He would continue for many years but time would prove this to be correct. He refused to receive the office by the hands of the Pope. "I declare I will not acknowledge the authority of the pope any further than it agrees with the Word of God; and that I reserve the right of speaking against him and of attacking his errors." He repeated his declaration of reserves three times when he was consecrated archbishop.

1533 In May an ecclesiastical court was called. It ruled that the marriage of Henry to his brother's wife, having been contracted contrary to the law of God, was null and void. Henry was free. Just 5 days later Henry married Anne Boleyn. But she did not find the happiness of which she dreamed. A cloud was often to be seen in the features of this once radiant lady. She discovered that for those who have everything as well as for those who have nothing, there is only one source of lasting joy - the Lord God, full of grace and truth. In July the Pope declared the marriage unlawful and threatened ex-communication of both.

The Cambridge scholar John Fryth, an ardent believer who had moved to Oxford, had been imprisoned by Wolsey 5 years earlier. He had joined Tyndale for two years and then returned to England. He was soon arrested. Neither Cranmer nor Anne could save Fryth. He was burnt on 4th July at Smithfield with Andrew Hewitt. Heaven welcomed a pair of valiant martyrs.

Henry was becoming isolated. Charles V was angry because of the divorce, the Pope had virtually lost England, Francis I was about to receive the Pope's niece into his family, the Reformers rejected Henry because he still clung to Catholic doctrine and persecuted true believers, the clergy had been humiliated and their Pope separated. He had few friends. On 7th Sept Anne gave birth to a healthy child - a daughter, Elizabeth, who would do more for England and the true church than her father ever did.

1534 Cromwell desired justice for all and that preachers should be able to preach from the Bible. The Commons wished to put an end to persecutions of evangelical Christians like Thomas Philips who had been in prison for 3 years under a charge of heresy. So Parliament passed an act that forbade heresy as a crime just because the Pope said so, when Scripture did not do so. Philips was thus released. Parliament also abolished the privileges of the bishops of Rome; they prohibited all appeals or dispensations to the Pope; voted for bishops to be elected by the Chapter and deprived the two foreign bishops of their sees (Campeggio bishop of Salisbury and Ghinucci bishop of Worcester). In June, 3 months after he had been condemned in Rome, Henry's proclamation made him supreme head of the church in England and finally abolished all Papal power in England. It was a straightforward transfer of raw power and wealth. The authority should have been returned to Jesus Christ and his Word - but that dream is much easier said than done; no leader ever voluntarily gives away his power. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, appointed as Archbishop, Dr Williams in 2002 and Justin Welby in 2012, both men approve of homosexuals in high office. But Almighty God has declared in the OT and the NT that 'homosexuality is an abomination'. Such is the problem of having the State ruling the Church.

In 1534 four new editions of Tyndale's New Testament from the Antwerp presses reached these shores. But demand still well outstripped supply. Henry enjoyed sharing all the honours of kingship with Anne, but on one occasion she went too far. Without consulting Henry, she and Cromwell wrote out an order giving back Richard Harman, an Antwerp merchant, his freedom to trade. Harman was a friend of both Tyndale and Fryth, whom Henry hated.

Thomas More and Bishop Fisher were imprisoned for refusing to sign the Act of Succession which proclaimed Henry's supremacy of the Church. Their friends wished to restore authority to Rome, but Henry and Cromwell were determined to give the King ever more power. Cranmer, Tyndale and others would have preferred to see the rule of Holy Scripture, but Henry's rule was at least one better than the Pope. Each of these powerful men were so different, each passionate and with so much at stake. Cranmer made small steps forward, but with extreme caution. He was a quiet, kindly man and tended to bend with the wind. He knew that if he came into open collision with the Tudor Sceptre it would very quickly become a sword! He was patient but never abandoned the principles of the Reformation. Some say he compromised too often; but if he had been a bold challenge to Henry, he would never have been able gain his approval for the English Scriptures to be legally printed and read in England. This was no small concession that he gained.

1535 Henry desired to confirm his position, but many in Lincolnshire and the North were ready to revolt. Some leading Priors - Laurence, Webster and Haughton were arrested and condemned. 14 Anabaptists from the Low Countries were also condemned. Henry liked people to think he was being even-handed. The new Pope Paul III created a number of new cardinals, including Fisher. Henry was not pleased that one convicted of high treason should be so honoured. Fisher was beheaded and 2 weeks later so was More. But neither of these great men had plotted against the state, both had only objected to the head of State being the head of the Church. Henry won no friends by such deeds.

Many monasteries had degenerated and monks lived in idleness, gluttony and licentiousness. They fleeced the surrounding rich and poor alike to maintain their living, instead of living to serve them. Henry and Cromwell set about the reform of the monasteries over the next few years and used much of their wealth to fund building warships and port fortifications. But in their destruction, many fine libraries and buildings were destroyed. Not all the monasteries were profligate; a few were pious and hard-working.

Henry tried to negotiate with the reformers whose only condition was that doctrine and practice must be based upon the scriptures, not church tradition - especially Papal tradition. But Henry remained staunchly catholic in his religious practice. But as part of his severance from Catherine he considered putting her daughter Mary to death. Cranmer interceded for her as it would cause universal reprobation. Mary when she was queen would ignore this kindness and burn the man who had once saved her life. While Catherine maintained her ascetic dignity and her being Henry's legal wife and queen, she soon wasted and died.

Looking at England overall, Henry wanted a son for stability plus the passion of a beautiful wife, and while he found Roman theology agreeable, he was also enjoying the wealth and power of the Church that had previously been exported to Rome. The English aristocracy was deeply divided. Some, like the Norfolk, supported Rome, others the new Protestant faith. But both sides wanted to maintain their own position of wealth and power. The Church was also divided; Archbishop Cranmer, Latimer and others rejoiced in the newly translated Scriptures while many others hated to see their Roman traditions being seen as gross errors. The Judiciary was also divided. Thomas More was staunchly Catholic and would not support Henry’s divorce from Catherine. Although Cromwell had faithfully served Cardinal Wolsey (who had died in 1530) he now, as Henry’s new Chancellor, supported the Protestants. Everyone had good reason to fear Henry, whose decisions were sometimes unpredictable. Into this boiling pot, Almighty God had raised up William Tyndale to translate the Scriptures into English. He had wisely gone to Europe in 1524. Henry hated him because he honoured Jesus Christ, not the Pope and his Catholic theology. So Henry rejected Tyndale’s New Testament, which had started to arrive in England in 1526. And was pleased to see him safely imprisoned in Vilvorde in 1535 - and dead in early 1536.

1536 Anne involved herself in much charitable work; she assisted many to study at both Oxford and Cambridge encouraging them to learn from the New Testaments and the Reformers. She treasured the specially bound New Testament that Tyndale had sent her in 1534. (It is now in the British Museum). Cranmer and Latimer were often in her presence and gave her much good advice and wisdom. But her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Gardener and Lady Rochford, the jealous and despicable wife of Anne's brother, hated her righteous activities and began to plot against her. Among Lady Rochford's ladies of honour was the young and beautiful Jane Seymour. Henry did more that just notice her, so he soon began to tire of Anne's charm and her Reformation activities. Norfolk and Rochford quickly noticed this and used it skilfully to poison Henry's mind. Anne was devastated and her grief caused her to give birth to a dead son. Instead of consolation, Henry upbraided her. Anne could not restrain herself from telling him that he had only himself to blame! Though she recovered, the wind had now changed and the bereaved mother knew it. She had seen many die at Henry's cruel hand. It was just a matter of time - and it wouldn't be very long. She consigned her daughter Elizabeth into the hand of the faithful Parker. False charges were made against Anne and she was immediately imprisoned in the Tower. From there she wrote a most touching and noble letter to Henry, but it did nothing to turn his determined heart. She was tried and found guilty by a court headed by the Duke of Norfolk! No one expected justice and no one found it. But the papists were delighted; their evil plans had prevailed. Henry wanted to maximise the punishment of Anne by claiming that their marriage was null and void. Cranmer agreed to this, thinking that if there was no marriage, then there could be no adultery! And Anne would be released. But again justice had fled the land. Anne died with dignity, clearly knowing the strength that only Christ can give. She pleaded for mercy for her judges and remembered Henry only as the gentle and merciful prince he had once been to her. Finally she said, "O Jesus, receive my soul." On the day of Anne's beheading Henry, dressed in white, went hunting. Eleven days later he married Jane Seymour. What a man! In Rome the Pope Paul III was delighted to hear of Anne's passing; his hopes of re-uniting with England soared. But they were soon dashed as Henry had not the slightest intention of inviting Roman authority to return to these shores and thereby sacrifice the power he had gained as head of the church. It had been at the cost of the lives of his Chancellor Thomas More and Bishop Fisher who had refused to recognise Henry as head of the church. With Anne's demise, Mary presumed that she was now first in line of succession to the throne. Henry persuaded Parliament to grant him the right to name his heir in his will and anyone who challenged his prerogative would be guilty of high treason.

Meanwhile there was no agreement between the English Catholic bishops and Cromwell, Cranmer, Latimer and Alesius to declare a unified doctrine for the church. So Henry wrote his own 10 Articles that approved transubstantiation, images in churches, prayers to Mary and the saints, prayers for the dead and purgatory. Henry wanted Catholicism without the Pope. Cranmer was willing to agree to the kings articles, but resolved that Convocation should permit lay people to read the Bible in English and a new translation be ordered. Cromwell was made Lord Privy-Seal and he ordered that Parents and Masters should teach their children the Lords' Prayer, the Apostles Creed and the 10 Commandments in English. He commissioned Coverdale to complete his translation of the Bible (>75% the work of Tyndale and Fryth), print and circulate it. Although it might seem weak for Cranmer to agree Henry's Articles, it did enable a far greater authority to spread and gain ground. The Scriptures would soon begin to change England for several centuries.

But first there was an uprising led by the priests who objected to the reformation of the monasteries. 20,000 men rose up in Lincolnshire and some 30,000 in the North encouraged by the archbishop of York. Henry minted all the plate in the Tower and most astutely appointed the Duke of Norfolk to lead an army. Norfolk was outnumbered 6:1 but made it clear to the insurgents that if they attacked and defeated Norfolk and the other major Royalists, who were all Catholics, they would be defeating themselves! Norfolk dispatched their 'demands' to Henry and used the time to build his army. The insurgents broke up and went home. Some time later they attacked again and were defeated by Norfolk. 70 were hanged including Pole, Darcy and Hussey. Henry was never merciful to his enemies.

The papist bishops did all they could to stop the Word of God from gaining ground in England. On the Continent Tyndale had been printing his New Testament in English for 10 years and had completed much of the Old Testament moving from place to place and keeping a very low profile. Early in 1536 he was betrayed by one whom he thought to be his friend. When led to the stake he prayed, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." He was immediately strangled and then burnt. But the flame that his New Testament had lit could not so easily be extinguished. The Lord Almighty ensured that his work of translating both Old and New Testaments was not lost; it would soon be incorporated in Coverdale's 'Great Bible'.

1537 Jane Seymour gave birth to a son. At last there was an heir for Henry. Would his son bring peace to this troubled and divided island? Jane died 12 days later. Gardener, a formidable adversary of the Gospel returned from France after 3 years as Ambassador. He immediately set to work with Tunstall, Stokesley, Sampson and others to persuade Henry to actively turn against everything to do with the Reformation. 4 Anabaptists were burnt. Lambert on hearing a sermon on the presence of Christ in the sacrament wrote a paper with 10 articles refuting the 'presence'. He was arrested and burnt.
1538 Henry was offered the hand of a widow, the duchess of Milan with a large dowry and the condition that he re-united with Rome. Henry declined. The Pope published the bull he had made in 1535 that excommunicated Henry. Henry sanctioned the distribution of the 2,500 edition of the 'Great Bible' printed by Richard Grafton. God's answer to the dying prayer of William Tyndale. It was soon exhausted. Cromwell wished to publish another edition printed in Paris, because their printing was with better type and on better paper. Francis I did not object as none of it was in French or Latin! After 6 months of threats the task was almost completed. Ambassador Bonner (a papist who wanted to curry favour with Cromwell and gain the additional see of Hereford) took the printing to London. Cromwell also arranged for agents to take the press, all the type and the printers themselves to London where the task was completed. Officers of the French inquisitor-general arrived a few hours too late at the Paris printing office and only found a few scrap sheets remaining. As a result of the inquisition many other French printers left and England benefited greatly.
1539 There was still much religious division in the land and Henry was threatened with invasion by an alliance of Charles V and Francis I. He again determined to unite England with a single doctrinal creed. 6 Articles were drawn up with a decidedly Catholic flavour. Cranmer, Latimer and others spoke bravely against them, but the Articles were passed by Parliament. Cranmer never signed or consented to them. Latimer was invited to resign his bishopric which he did willingly and with great pleasure. Shaxton, bishop of Salisbury, also resigned. Cranmer didn't as Henry needed him because there were too many difficulties in appointing a new archbishop. Besides, Cranmer always respected Henry, even if he sometimes disagreed. Norfolk, Gardener, Tunstall and Stokesley were most zealous in executing this cruel law. Within 15 days, over 500 persons were imprisoned. They were released only when a Bill was passed that withdrew heretics from the jurisdiction of the bishops and subjected them to the civil courts.

Henry desired to marry again. Cromwell recommended the young Protestant princess Anne of Cleves from Saxony as being of great beauty and modesty, hoping thereby to help the cause of the Reformation. Henry was profoundly disappointed when they met, he complained bitterly (in private) that her portrait grossly exaggerated her good looks. But for political reasons it was too late to cancel the wedding. Wishing to commend himself to the men of Saxony, he arranged for Cromwell to arrange some suitable preachers - Barnes, Garret and Jerome. Their sermons caused Gardiner to complain bitterly to Henry. All three were confined to the Tower.

1540 Henry laid the full blame for his wife on Cromwell, but first he honoured him and made him Earl of Essex - the dangerous, duplicitous and despotic king needed him to push two bills through Parliament that would make him considerably richer! Henry always wanted more money - as most rulers do. Cromwell obliged. The bills were passed by which the king confiscated the considerable estates of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, and taxed rents collected at 10%, plus 5% on all merchandise. Henry then arranged for Norfolk to accuse and arrest Cromwell for high treason on some obviously trumped-up charges that were far removed from the real 'crime' of choosing him a wife in whom he saw no beauty; largely because he thought she might advance the Protestant Reformation, which Henry despised. The ardent Catholic, Norfolk, whose niece Catherine Howard, the king had been eyeing, was only too glad to oblige and conducted his Protestant enemy to the Tower. Cranmer immediately wrote respectfully to Henry reminding him of Cromwell's long, faithful and selfless loyalty in efficient service to the king. This was a bold act for Henry did not take kindly to anyone who contradicted him, even privately. Cromwell was denied a normal open trial because the charges were so obviously false. He was to be convicted by a Parliamentary bill of attainder. Taken to Tower Hill he made a statement admitting that he was poor sinner in need of mercy and who begged the forgiveness of both king and God. He then knelt down and prayed. "O Lord Jesu! who art the only health of all men living and the everlasting life of them which die in thee, I, wretched sinner, do submit myself wholly unto thy most blessed will, and being sure that the thing cannot perish which is committed unto thy mercy, willingly now I leave this frail and wicked flesh, in sure hope that thou wilt, in better wise, restore it to me again at the last day in the resurrection of the just. I beseech thee, most merciful Lord Jesus Christ that thou wilt by thy grace make strong my soul against all temptations, and defend me with the buckler of thy mercy against all the assaults of the devil. I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope, and trust is in thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits nor good works which I may allege before thee. Of sins and evil works, alas! I see a great heap; but yet through thy mercy I trust to be in the number of them to whom thou wilt not impute their sins; but wilt take and accept me for righteous and just, and to be the inheritor of everlasting life. Thou, merciful Lord! wast born for my sake; thou didst suffer both hunger and thirst for my sake; thou didst teach, pray, and fast for my sake; all thy holy actions and works thou wroughtest for my sake; thou sufferedst most grievous pains and torments for my sake; finally, thou gavest thy most precious body and thy blood to be shed on the cross for my sake. Now, most merciful Saviour! let all these things profit me, that thou freely hast done for me, which hast given thyself also for me. Let thy blood cleanse and wash away the spots and foulness of my sins. Let thy righteousness hide and cover my unrighteousness. Let the merits of thy passion and blood-shedding be satisfaction for my sins. Give me, Lord! thy grace, that the faith of my salvation in thy blood waver not in me, but may ever be firm and constant; that the hope of thy mercy and life everlasting never decay in me: that love wax not cold in me. Finally, that the weakness of my flesh be not overcome with the fear of death. Grant me, merciful Saviour! that when death hath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon thee; and when death hath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto thee, 'Lord! into thy hands I commend my soul; Lord Jesu! receive my spirit!' Amen." Thus Cromwell, Earl of Essex, Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Secretary of State, Vicar-General of all England, Lord Privy Seal and a Knight of the Garter, a great and honourable man who loyally served both king and country, lost his head, but not his salvation. He had done much for Henry and for England. Justice was done at Calvary and in heaven, even if not in London.

Naturally the Catholics were delighted; they had successfully seen both Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell permanently removed from the scene. Now they thought was the opportunity to deal the Reformation preachers a deadly blow too. Just 2 days after Cromwell's execution, Barnes, Garret and Jerome were taken to Smithfield without any public trial or condemnation. Henry wanted to be seen as impartial so he selected three papists, Abel, Powel and Fetherstone, who had objected to his divorce from Catherine and to his gaining supremacy of the Church. The 6 were burnt together. Henry also wished to be rid of his queen, Anne of Cleves, so not wishing to be seen as the originator, he told the Privy-Council to arrange it, which they were glad to do, hoping for a Catholic Queen. Anne gave her consent willingly. The Convocation declared the marriage null and void on account that it had never been consummated and Henry was free to marry another woman 'for the good of the realm'. Henry gave Anne the Palace at Richmond and  £ 4,000/year and she returned her ring to him. She preferred to remain in England than return home in disgrace. A month later Henry married the sensual Catherine Howard the Catholic niece of the Duke of Norfolk - with whom he had already enjoyed an adulterous relationship.

1541 To please his new wife, Henry became an ardent practising Catholic and many laws which Cranmer and Cromwell had instituted were reversed. Many were thrown into prison - one, John Porter for reading the Bible chained to the lectern, which Henry had appointed to be read in Churches! He died in prison where he had sought the salvation of the other inmates, thieves and murderers. Next on their list was Cranmer. But when they attempted to accuse him of preaching heresy, they found that Henry had already given him a ring of assurance. Coming before Henry, Cranmer's accusers were somewhat confused at being given a royal rebuke. Henry welcomed Catholic practice, but he feared their next step would be bring back Papal authority to England. This he would not allow at any cost.

At the close of the year the Lord brought evidence to Cranmer that caused him great distress. Catherine Howard was of frivolous and immoral character both before and after her marriage to Henry. Cranmer thought it best to pass on the unsubstantiated evidence to the privy council. It caused chaos! Most of Norfolk's family were involved because they knew, but didn't tell Henry. Cranmer was sent to see Catherine, who admitted all in great commotion and tears. He showed her much real pastoral care, but he could not spare her the painful consequences of her infidelity. The 20 year old queen and Lady Rochford were executed. None were sorry to see justice for Lady Rochford, who had been the chief instigator of the innocent Anne Boleyn's death, and also that of her own husband. The result of this very public disgrace of the Catholic party and Henry's gratitude to Cranmer for his faithfulness, sensitivity and truth in the whole affair once more reversed the tide in favour of the Reformation. But Cranmer wisely did not use his friendship with Henry to blatantly advance the Reformation cause.

1543 Cranmer introduced a bill that any Tyndale Bible should be suppressed, but printers were allowed to publish it using the names of Matthew, Coverdale, Taverner or even Tunstall. The bill also modified the Act of Six Articles and removed the death penalty for laymen.

After 5 failed marriages, the aging Henry's needs were changing. Catherine Parr, twice widowed, was a virtuous woman of good sense and with a most caring nature. She married Henry and gave him all the simple love and devotion that he needed.

Gardener and others did not give up their pursuit of Cranmer. Henry showed him their accusations. But Cranmer's willingness to humbly appear before any court again showed Henry their true and unjust objective. He ordered a commission to investigate, but Cranmer bore his accusers no ill will. They soon realised that he was a just and good man who showed himself to be their true shepherd. Stung by failure, Gardener went after slightly smaller fry who had no one to defend them. Dr London of Oxford supported by the bishop of Winchester arrested 14 'Friends of the Gospel' in Oxford. Robert Testwood, Henry Filmer and Antony Peerson were burnt. Cranmer persuaded Henry to spare John Marbeck who translated a concordance from Latin to English because Henry considered the Bible as a major weapon in his fight against the Pope.

1546 Enemies of the Reformation were very angry because so many women of noble birth were embracing the truth of Scripture; among the most prominent was the young (25) Anne Askew. Examined by Gardener and others they were unable to trap her with their questions so that they could condemn her of heresy. They even put the good lady on the rack. She put her trust in her Lord and Master; she did not buckle. They were furious and although she had the right to be tried by jury, they just condemned her anyway. Because of her torture injuries she had to be carried to Smithfield. There, this shining witness was burnt with three other evangelical Christians. Each of them were given sufficient strength and courage by the Sovereign Lord in their hour of need.

When Henry returned from France the Catholic party whispered false accusations against Catherine Parr in his ear concerning her conduct in his absence - her study of the scriptures, and engaging certain teachers to expound the Word, times of prayer and meditation - just like Anne Askew who was burnt! But Henry loved her and appreciated her honesty and the devoted care that she lavished upon him. Gardener and Wriothesley were about to give up on targeting Anne, when Henry's leg ulcer burst and became very painful. They immediately took advantage of the king being more easily irritated and began laying a multitude of unjust, exaggerated charges first against Catherine's ladies and then against herself. Henry believed the weasel words and even signed an indictment. Some days later Wriothesley dropped the indictment in the palace and an attendant took it to Catherine. She was distraught, not knowing anything about their evil plans. Henry had to be carried to her and his heart was filled with pity. He comforted her and realised his folly. And he was really furious with the Catholic party and their intrigue. Not for the first time the planned downfall of the Reformation had been turned by the Lord against the Papists. He who diggeth a pit shall fall therein. Prov 2627  Gardener, the bishop of Winchester, was banished from court, from being one of his executors, and from the council of regency for his son Edward. To add insult to the huge loss of power and finance, he was replaced by Cranmer! Chancellor Wriothesley had his powers severely pruned. Henry also realised that after his death the Catholic party under Norfolk would fight evangelicals under the Seymors and Cranmer. Norfolk's son, Earl of Surrey, was of high intelligence, high spirit and courage. But he had borne the arms of Edward the Confessor in the 1st quarter, a privilege reserved for the king. Henry locked Norfolk and his son in the Tower, but he died just before the execution of the son was carried out. Norfolk lived for eight more years, mostly in prison.

1547 Edward VI was just 9 years old when his father died. His mother, Jane Seymour, had died 12 days after his birth. This must be a terrible blow for any child, but was greatly magnified by his less than robust health and power vacuum after Henry's departure when England was being torn apart not only by political ambitions, but also by Protestant / Catholic divide. In accordance with Henry's will that had previously been agreed by Parliament, England was to be ruled by a Council of Regency that had a Protestant majority. Edward's uncle, Edward Seymour, was given the Protectorship, made Duke of Somerset, Lord High Treasurer and Earl Marshal. His aim was unite with Scotland but his defeat of the Scottish army at Pinkie Cleugh did little to achieve this! He soon began to make new laws to advance Protestantism. An enhanced version of the 1538 law against images, statues, roods, bells, vestments, and stained glass was actively enforced. Priests were no longer required to be celibate and mass for the dead was abolished. Henry had also left behind large debts and there was no means to pay them off. Somerset taxed anyone and everyone he could and introduced various land laws that caused much hardship and anger.
1549 Somerset's brother, Thomas Seymour plotted against him and was executed. But Thomas was the king's favourite uncle, so his execution drove a wedge between the young king and Somerset. Cranmer introduces the Book of Common Prayer. This was a major step forward in the spiritual life in England because henceforth all Church services were conducted in English instead of Latin, which only a fes scholars understood. One of the most significant truths the new Book of Common Prayer was that salvation was granted upon the merits that Christ alone who died once for our sins. 1Tim 25,6 Heb 924,25 The Latin Mass and Transubstantiation were wrong and removed. The Act of Uniformity was passed, which pleased no one. Religious unrest continued and was greatly enhanced by increasing economic hardship, unemployment and poor harvests. The French took advantage of the unrest and declared war. John Dudley, Earl of Warwick arrested Somerset, and although briefly released, he was executed in 1552. Dudley held the royal purse strings and determined to become the largest land-owner in England. Over the next three years he successfully set about confiscating church land as part of the Protestant reforms. He was made Duke of Northumberland. Corruption and anger reigned in England.
1550 Stone altars were replaced by wooden tables for Communion. Various other laws concerning the appointment of clergy and bishops were passed. But Protestants were a minority (~20%) even in London.
1552 An new and more radical Prayer Book was issued which abolished all reference to sacrifice. East Anglia and the SW objected, but their rebellion was brutally put down. Parliament repealed Henry's Six Articles.
1553 Edward died of consumption leaving a much disputed succession. His six year reign was a troubled by the foolish disputes, ambition and corruption of those who tried to lead a land divided by religion, wealth and injustice. But Edward himself was a pious and honourable Protestant boy who was unwillingly led by unscrupulous men. Wisdom and justice were in short supply - not uncommon in the history of nations.

Lady Jane Grey was queen for 9 days before Mary had gathered sufficient support and Northumberland had failed in his attempt to arrest her. Lady Grey was imprisoned and executed a year later.

Mary became queen of England and immediately released the Duke of Norfolk and Bishop Gardener from the Tower. Gardener was appointed Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor. He crowned Mary as Queen. Her first act of Parliament was to validate Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. But the Pope was only prepared to legitimise her claim if Church property disputes were settled, which was no simple matter. Neither was the repealing of all the Protestant favouring laws made by Edward VI. This process was begun and continued throughout her 5 year reign. Mary refused to imprison Cranmer for supporting Lady Jane Grey; she wanted him tried and burned for heresy. In order to maintain a Catholic on the throne, she needed first a husband and then a son; else her Protestant sister Elizabeth would become Queen.

1554 Mary marries Philip II of Spain. But his view of the marriage was entirely political. Nearly all England hated the match, which titled Philip as king of England. They feared they might become subservient to Spain. Various insurrections arose. They were crushed and their leaders executed (~100). Elizabeth was imprisoned for 2 months before Philip persuaded Mary to release her in order to gain popularity with the people. Mary had a phantom pregnancy - such is the power of hope!
1555 Just 14 months after their marriage, Philip went back to Spain.

The Heresy Laws were repealed and the arrests began in January with John Hooper (former Bishop of Gloucester), John Rogers, Laurence Saunders, Rowland Taylor and John Cardmaster. Each were condemned and burnt at the stake. Soon to be followed by Hugh Latimer (former Bishop of Worcester) and Nicholas Ridley (former Bishop of London). Foxe estimates that 284 were burnt for their Protestant faith that believed the Scriptures rather than the Pope.

1556 Thomas Cranmer (former Archbishop of Canterbury) was arrested and tried. After two years in prison and much hardship, he recanted. However this did not prevent him from being burnt. By the grace of God, Cranmer withdrew the recantation. When at the stake he thrust his offending right hand into the flames until it was charcoal. Thus he made a good and courageous witness to the truth he believed both for the many decades before his recantation and at his death.
1558 Mary was sure she was pregnant again, but it was a large cyst. In November she died. Elizabeth gave her a royal funeral and interred her in Westminster Abbey. Many in England breathed a sigh of relief.