{14}     Extension of Protestantism

ERA 5 << Modern Church (1): Reformation & Struggles (AD 1500–1700) >> SESSION 3

Reference: Gonzalez, volume 2, chapters 8,10-11

        14.1.1  Background

·         Dispute: Henry VIII [1509–1547] married Princess Catherine of Spain, who was his dead brother’s widow. Catherine gave birth to Mary Tudor. Henry wanted to have a legitimate male heir so he asked for an annulment of his marriage from the pope. But Catherine was the aunt of Emperor Charles V so the pope was undecided.

        14.1.2  Creation of the Anglican Church

·         William Tyndale (1494–1536)—He translated the Bible from the original languages. He was martyred near Brussels [1536]. Most of the English Bibles before 1970 were Tyndale’s words.

·         Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556)—He was appointed archbishop of Canterbury [1532]. He supported Wycliffe’s idea of the creation of a national church, under the direction of civil authorities.

·         Act of Supremacy [1534]—The Parliament passed this act to limit the authority of the RCC in England. The Anglican Church under the king of England was formed. However, there were still struggles between Catholics and Protestants.

        14.1.3  Advance & retreat

·         Edward VI [1547–1553]—He was sickly and reigned 6 years. The first 3 years was under the regency of Duke of Somerset, and Reformation in England advanced. The cup in the communion was given to the laity. The Book of Common Prayer [1549], mainly written by Cranmer, was published.

·         Queen Mary [1553–1558]—She was Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry’s first wife. She tried to restore Roman Catholicism in England. She openly persecuted Protestant, killing 300 leaders; countless others were imprisoned and exiled. She was thus known as the “bloody Mary”.

·         Queen Elizabeth I [1558–1603]—During her reign, Anglicans returned from the continent, bringing Zwinglian and Calvinist ideas. Elizabeth was Protestant but not an extremist. Her ideal was a church with common worship, but also one allowing great latitude for varying opinions.

·         Thirty-Nine Articles [1562]—It was doctrinal foundation for the Anglican Church. It was Calvinistic in tone, but the retention of bishops, liturgy, and other forms of Catholic ceremony was in line with Lutheran policy.

·         Conflict with the pope: The pope excommunicated Elizabeth [1570], and Elizabeth executed 125 Jesuits who planned to recapture England for the papacy. Philip gathered a great fleet known as the Spanish Armada and sailed to England [1588]. It was defeated by a smaller English fleet.

·         High & low church: The high church emphasizes the ritualistic aspects similar to the Roman Catholic Mass. The low church emphasizes the Protestant nature of Anglicanism, as represented by the evangelical churches.

        14.2.1  Political changes

·         Reformation: The ideas of Wycliffe and Huss had found followers in Scotland. Mary Stuart, the heir to the throne, was sent to France for her education [1542]. Mary’s mother became the regent in Scotland. A group of Protestants controlled the castle of St. Andrew and repelled the government.

        14.2.2  John Knox & the Reformed Church

·         Scottish Church: John Knox (1510–1572) was the preacher of the Protestants at St. Andrew’s. He went to study in Geneva with Calvin. The Protestant Scottish lords united in a covenant. John Knox returned and helped form the Reformed Church of Scotland [1560]. The Scottish Parliament approved the church.

·         Mary Stuart: Mary Stuart returned to Scotland and claimed the throne. At first, she followed the advice of her half-brother Earl of Moray (1531–1570), a Protestant leader. However, she asked the Spain army to uproot Protestantism in Scotland and wanted to pursue the throne of England. The lords rebelled; she was defeated and escaped to London. Mary Stuart Mary was received generously by Elizabeth I. However, Mary took part in conspiracies to request Spanish troops to invade England and she was executed [1587]. Moray became the regent of Scotland and the Reformed Church won over Scotland.

·         Union: England and Scotland formally became one kingdom with one Parliament [1707].

        14.3.1  A different route to Reformation

·         Support of the monarchs: In Germany, the nobility asserted its power against the monarchy in the struggle for religious freedom. In Scandinavia, it was the monarchs who took up the cause of Reformation.

·         Revolution: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were a united country and ruled by the Danish king. He murdered the aristocrats and Protestants in Sweden [1520]. A young Swede Gustavus Vasa (1496–1560) led the rebellion and won the war. Sweden became independent and Lutheranism became the state religion [1527].

·         Converted to Protestantism: The kings of Denmark [1536] and Norway [1539] became Lutheran. All Scandinavia (including Finland [1530] and Iceland [1554]) took Lutheranism as their national religion.

        14.4.1  Reformation through bloodbaths

·         Background: At the Reformation, the low countries were ruled by Emperor Charles V. Many in the low countries became Protestants. Charles V issued numerous edicts against Protestants and thousands died.

·         Suppression: Philip II, son of Charles V, became king of the region [1555]. He sent the Spanish army which conquered many cities and laid massacre, killing indiscriminately, even women and children. William “the Silent” led the Dutch and stopped the Spanish.

·         End: The Pacification of Ghent [1576] religious freedom. The northern provinces were Calvinist and became the Dutch Reformed Church. The southern French-speaking provinces remained Catholic. They were later divided into: the Netherlands, Belgium [1830], Luxembourg [1839].

        14.5.1  Early Reformation

·         Persecution: Protestantism gained many adherents in France, particularly among the learned and the nobility. They were mostly Calvinists and were called Huguenots. Many French kings persecuted the Huguenots until 1562. Many Protestants (including Calvin) exiled to other countries, such as Holland and Switzerland.

        14.5.2  St. Bartholomew’s Day’s Massascre [1572]

·         Massacre: The Edict of St. Germain [1562] granted Huguenots limited freedom of religion. But massacre of Huguenots started on St. Bartholomew’s Day [August 24, 1572] in Paris. The massacre spread to the whole country. In several months, 100,000 died. Pope Gregory XIII ordered a celebration for the massacre.

        14.5.3  Edict of Nantes [1598]

·         Compromise: The Huguenots gathered in strongholds of La Rochelle and Montauban and rebelled against the king. The war continued. Henry IV (who changed religion 4 times but was probably a Protestant at heart) became king and granted Huguenots freedom of worship, and some fortified towns.


[1] treasure our heritage

Our English Bible is a heritage from Tyndale who made the ultimate sacrifice for his work, being murdered as a martyr.

[2] appreciate God’s providence

God raised up many able generals to ensure the success of the Reformation, including Vasa, William the Silent and his son.

[3] avoid past errors

The massacres in France and Holland were results of over-confidence and excessive trust of the governments by Christians.

[4] apply our knowledge

Reformation came to those countries where the Bible was read and obeyed by the people. Today’s revival will be the same.

[5] follow past saints

The scholarly Cranmer and Knox led the Reformation in Britain.