Economic Causes of the Reformation in England

Economic Causes of the Reformation in England

Economic Causes of the Reformation in England

Economic Causes of the Reformation in England

Excerpt

The founder of Christianity is reputed to have said that one cannot serve God and mammon. Nevertheless the church has been a diligent conservator of this world's goods. At a very early date it stressed ideals of frugality and industry for its members which insured it an enviable economic stability even during the years of declining prosperity experienced by the society of the later Roman Empire. When finally admitted to the privileges of a state religion, Christianity itself became an extensive holder of property. During the Middle Ages its incomes, relatively speaking, were enormous. Prior to the Reformation bishoprics and monasteries controlled a large proportion of Europe's wealth, which at that time consisted chiefly in land. When the new nations of Europe began to emerge out of the chaos of feudalism, princes frequently found themselves seriously embarrassed on account of the immunity from taxation enjoyed by the large estates of the church. Hence the agitation of governments for disendowment, especially of the monasteries.

The importance of the economic situation for an understanding of the Reformation, particularly in England, is fully appreciated by Dr. Marti, whose extended researches in this field are now made available for the public. We bespeak a hearty reception and a wide usefulness for this timely and scholarly volume.

SHIRLEY JACKSON CASE, University of Chicago.

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