Condition of the Church in 1529
Overall Themes: Reformation from above or below
Key Questions: Was the Church in 1529 in desperate need for reform?
Was the Church in 1529 in dire condition? Etc
Historians: Duffy (Catholic) – from above
Dickens – from below
Critics: John Colet – English churchman – problems with corruption, greed and priests having fun at the expense of doing their duty.
Simon Fish – Protestant lawyer. Wrote Supplication for the beggars, which contains misrepresentations about the behaviour of the clergy.
Argument: From above, there were some problems with the church but most people were happy with the church shown by the lack of complaints.
Themes: 1.Clergy Behaviour – immorality
-financial abuses (simony (sale of ecclesiastical title) and mortuary fees) -ignorance/ neglect (due to pluralism)
2. Evidence of satisfaction – (see below)
3. Theology – Majority still believed in traditional beliefs, only small numbers of reformers and church itself did not change that much after the reformation so can’t have been that bad.
Types of evidence that could be used:
Priests – Immorality – Bishop of Ely had 3 children, Wolsey had two, and a brothel only for priests was found in London in 1514 But only 2 non celibate bishops.
Visitation records from 1511-12 where Archbishop Warham visited 260 parishes and found only 6 priests suspected of sexual misconduct.
-Incompetence + Ignorance + Neglect- the Bishop of London examined quality of London priests – only declared 14 ‘adequate’ and banned 21 and suspended 16. -only 54% of Gloucester priests could recite the 10 commandments in early C16th. -25% of priests were found to be pluralists in Lincoln, in Canterbury this was 50%. Harper Bill protests that clergy were paid so little, so even pluralists didn’t have enough to live on. Only 4% complained and this was mainly about their age rather than neglect –they just wanted pastoral...
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