The Church before the Reformation

1. Source A suggests the view that anticlericalism was the cause of the reformattion (“..numerous developments were preparing..

.for some sort of relious and ecclesiastical change”), and that the reformation occurred because of the weakness and stability of the church (“the english church…stood poorly equipped to weather the storms of the new age”, “its tibers rotted and barnacled”) – i.e. the failure of the church to stand up to the anticlericalism.

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The fact that “its crew grudging, divided, in some case mutinous” establishes the anticlerical suggestions – an idea that the reformation came about from within the church – and Henry reacted to this.Source B agrees with Source A over the idea of the existence of anticlericalsm (“popular anticlericalism thrived on tales of luttenous monks…”). Both sources hint at its underlying bitterness.

Source A talks about the church being unable to tackle the problems due to its “unseaworthy hulk” where as Source B, although similar, talks about the church being “unaware of its peril.” Most importantly Source B agrees with the principal of the reformation coming from with-in, but only by implication. It talks about the church’s rotten state, aforementioning the fact that it was the clergy who attracted “more dislike than love.” It does suggest however the situation may not have been quite as bad as is described in Source A (“chantries were still being founded.

“)Source D, however offers another explanation for the cause of the reformation, stating that although there were scandals amongst the clergy, they were very rare, emphasising the idea that whilst some of the clergy may have been similar to that depicted in Source B, it was very much the minority, and that monastries were “workaday communities, offering charity…etc.

” As evidence for this claim, it says “it would be hard to explain the high levels of lay benefactions to the church.” It says that the church was a “lively and relevant social institution,” and that all Henry did was to attack the institutions and forms of piety that did exist.This suggest the reformation came from the outside- from an offensive Henry, in contrast to the explantion in the evaluation of Source A. Source C backs up Source D over the evidence of the lay benefactions (people were “pouring money and gifts in kind to them.”), as well as establishing the fact that if the views that are displayed in sources a and b seem suspect it is ther is little evidence of the extent of the supposedly socially corrupting anti clericalism etc – (“tiger..

..”).2. Source E criticises the clergy, claiming that the clergy provoked little empathy from or to the public (“..

seem to have afforded no deep spiritual or medidative wells from which people….might draw personal illumination..

.”). This is down to, source e claims, a poor education that exposed their “transiency” – they lacked a general purpose and sustainability in direction. One learns, that although underlying faith was sincere, its application was not quite so. It does say, interestingly, that there were few traces of misgivings, which could add to the view presented in Source D – that in fact, the reformation was not a result of long-term decay – as their was little decay as such – scandals did occur but they were rare.

Source E continues to describe the clergy as being quite ‘cold’ in faith – displaying little reaction, as well as ‘inertness’ and ‘insularness’. Source F agrees on this note – “there is little sign of a deep spiritual life,” and highlights the point made in Source E about the underlying sincerity (“real enthusiasm for traditional practices”). One can deduce that the clergy were in fact showing no signs of a need for reformation. One can then draw conclusions about the English church: according to sources like a and b, the cause of the reformation was from with-in – stemming from resenment on the clergy’s behalf.

Source E and F portray the clergy, not only to be unrebellious, nut to be the exact opposite (“..perfunctory in old ones…”).

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