The English Reformation to 1558

The English Reformation to 1558

The English Reformation to 1558

The English Reformation to 1558

Excerpt

To attempt, in a book of this size, to do more than draw attention to some of the salient features of the first epoch of the English Reformation, would be an impossibility. I have done no more, therefore, than to trace the general outlines of the story with the idea of assessing, so far as can be done, some of the chief forces which moulded the Reformation in this country, both in its resemblances (closer than are sometimes admitted) to the Continental Reformation, and in its differences from that movement, of which both the insular position of England and the peculiar character of English society, as it had evolved in the Middle Ages, were the causes. If I can induce some readers to make a closer study of a fascinating period in English history, I shall be satisfied.

Throughout I have tried to set the theological controversies of the age in closest relation to the secular political tendencies of the sixteenth century. In my judgement neither can be understood without the other, and most erroneous understandings of events result from failure to treat both together. This may perhaps enhance the topical usefulness of the book to modern readers; for England of to-day cannot be understood without some knowledge of this, one of the most formative periods in her past. If it be true, as I believe it is, that England is one of the few countries in which the conflict of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation has never yet been fought to a finish, then the key to many tensions of the present day lies partly in the events here described.

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