Henry VIII and the English Reformation

By Arthur J. Slavin | Go to book overview
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The literature on the Henrician Reformation is too vast to be dealt with here comprehensively. For that reason this bibliography is intended to guide the student in the direction of the most recent authoritative books and articles about the reign of Henry VIII, the chief problems pertaining to reform and Reformation in the several senses revealed in this anthology, and those figures besides the king who were important actors in the drama. The pursuit of any more detailed inquiries must rest on the Bibliography of British History, Tudor Period, 1485-1603, second edition ( Oxford, 1959), edited by Conyers Read, and such shorter but useful guides as Lacey B. Smith, "The Taste for Tudors," Studies in the Renaissance, VII ( 1960), 167-83.

On Wolsey and the failure of reform in the years of his greatness the most valuable single book is still A. F. Pollard, Wolsey ( London, 1929), though J. S. Brewer The Reign of Henry VIII, 2 vols. ( London, 1884) is basic to any understanding of politics and diplomacy to 1530. Special studies on the problems confronting Henry VIII and his ministers are legion. Among them, however, Margaret Aston, "Lollardy and Reformation: Survival or Revival," History, XLIX ( 1964), 149-70, is most stimulating on matters of heterodoxy among ordinary Englishmen, as is J. A. F. Thompson , The Later Lollards ( Oxford, 1965). F. R. H. Du Boulay "The Fifteenth Century," in The English Church and the Papacy in the Middle Ages, ed. C. H. Lawrence ( London, 1965), provides an excellent survey of this critical relationship. On the growth of anticlerical sentiment and Hunne's case, Arthur Ogle, The Tragedy of the Lollard's Tower ( Oxford, 1949) is often stimulating, though recent articles have somewhat altered our knowledge of this matter.

On the divorce as the immediate occasion of the Reformation, the best general treatment is Garrett Mattingly beautifully written Catherine of Aragon ( Boston, 1941). The crisis in Wolsey's career which the "King's great matter" represented has provoked sharp partisan discussion, the leading example being James Gairdner "The fall of Cardinal Wolsey," in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 2nd series, XIII ( 1899), 75-102. A work dealing with some consequences of the way in which the royal problem provided critics of the Church with a parliamentary platform is G. R. Elton, "The Commons Supplication Against the Ordinaries," English Historical Review LXVI ( 1951), 507-34.

From the divorce flowed both the schism with Rome and the royal supremacy as well as the complicated rewriting of the treason laws, of which Thomas More was the chief victim. Among the most useful works here are: W. H. Dunham Jr., "Regal Power and the Rule of Law: A Tudor Paradox," Journal of British Studies, III ( 1964), 24- 56; L. B. Smith, "English Treason Trials and Confessions in the Sixteenth Century," Journal of the History of Ideas, XV ( 1954), 471-98; as well as the book of F. L. Van Baumer , The Early Tudor Theory of Kingship ( Yale, 1940). But the most provocative contributions have certainly come from G. R. Elton, whose Tudor Revolution in Government ( Cambridge, 1953) and numerous articles have triggered a controversy about the role of Thomas Cromwell and also the notion of sovereignty in the 1530's. These arguments can be followed in the pages of Past and Present from 1963 to 1965.

Traditionally, the Pilgrimage of Grace and the dissolution of the monasteries have been discussed as effect and cause. Recent works on these features of the Reformation in England have done much to cast doubt on earlier assumptions. By far the most


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