Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

monasteries, and the wealthy bishops and abbots had seats in Parliament, and great influence in the state. The pope as supreme head of the church claimed also the right to interfere in some of the civil affairs of the nations; but the English people had always been jealous of this interference, though not always able to resist successfully.

Henry VIII., having quarrelled with the pope about a divorce, renounced his allegiance, and The Separation was proclaimed by Parliament supreme from Rome. head of the church in England (1534). By this act the English Catholic Church became a separate body; and after this time the king and Parliament had complete control of the appointment of church officers, and the regulation of church affairs. Henry abolished the monasteries, and confiscated their property to the crown.

During this reign the Protestant Reformation began in Germany under Luther (1517); and the The Protestant doctrines of the new religion spread rapidly Refor over Europe and in England. Henry VIII., though he quarrelled with the pope, was still a Catholic. He persecuted the Protestants for heresy, while he also punished the Catholics who refused to acknowledge his supremacy.

Edward VI., though a boy when he became king (1547), had decided opinions in favor of The Reformation the Protestants; and the chief of his ad- in England. visers sympathized with him. They at once began the work of change. The church services, which had always been in Latin, were changed by the preparation of a prayer-book in English which omitted the leading Catholic doctrines. Images were removed from

Reformation

the churches, and many of the ceremonies of the old religion abolished. The clergy were permitted to marry. Yet in this change the government of Edward had regard to the fact that the majority of the people were still Catholic. For this reason it adopted a moderate policy, intending to introduce more complete changes as the temper of the people would receive them. Many of the Protestants were dissatisfied with this

course, and demanded the removal of all Puritans

traces of the Catholic worship. These people, who wanted the old ceremonies abolished, were called by their enemies Puritans. The refusal of Hooper to be consecrated as bishop in the robes usually worn on such occasions may be considered the beginning of Puritan history (1550).

Edward died before the reform was completed, and Changes Mary came to the throne (1553). She was under Mary. a Catholic, and immediately filled all the church offices with men of that faith, removed from their places the clergy who had married, and fully re-established the old forins. The Protestant clergy suffered much from the zeal of the queen, and large numbers fled to the continent. Here they became still more strongly impressed in favor of a simple worship.

On the death of Mary (1558), these exiles returned Policy of Eliza- to England, hoping that Elizabeth would beth.

carry on the change begun by Edward; but she found herself in a peculiar and embarrassing position. She was considered the head and exponent of Protestantism; and as such the Catholic powers of Europe were leagued against her. Many of her own subjects were ready to listen to foreign conspirators, and rise in rebellion. For this reason, though she restored the Protestants to place, she did not push the new religion beyond its position at the death of Edward.

Two laws of a preceding reign were re-enacted, and became under her administration instru- Act of Supremments of the severest oppression. One, acy. called the Act of Supremacy, required all ecclesiastical officers, and all officers of the government, to take an oath to support the queen as the supreme head of the Church. This, good Catholics could not do, and they lost all controlling influence from that date. Besides this, at different times, other laws were passed under which the Catholics suffered much persecution.

The second statute, called the Act of Uniformity, forbade worship to be conducted in any Act of Uniplace, public or private, in any way but formity. that prescribed by law, and required all persons to attend public service at the stated times. Under the direction of some of the bishops, this law was brought to bear upon the Puritans, who had quietly been worshipping in their own way. Hundreds of the parish clergy were expelled from their livings. From all over England complaints came to the queen, that the churches were closed, and the people deprived of the customary religious observances. The petitions were not heeded, and the persecution went on.

About this time, in consequence of persecution in different parts of the country, a new idea Rise of the about religion was gaining favor. Some Separatists. people had come to believe that the government should have no control over the religious opinions and practices of its subjects. They held that any body of Christians might organize themselves into a church, choose their own officers, and be independent of all external authority. Thus, breaking away entirely from the Established Church, they began to organize themselves by the choice of pastors, teachers, and other officers, and to worship in secret. These radical reformers were called in derision, Brownists, from an early advocate of the doctrine, who afterward went back to the state church. Afterward they were called Separatists and Independents. They were as obnoxious to the Puritans as to the government, and were punished by fines, imprisonment, torture, mutilation, and death ; but they steadily increased in numbers.

During the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, there Parties in came to be five religious classes : the Religion. Church party, holding extreme views of the authority of the government, and sustaining all its harsh procedure ; the conforming Puritans, who desired reform, yet from motives of policy or fear, or from associations, still adhered to the prescribed modes of worship; the non-conforming Puritans, who believed in the authority of the civil magistrate in matters of religion, but could not conscientiously adopt the ritual established for them, and were hoping for a change in the policy of the state; the Separatists, who had renounced the state religion, and were worshipping in little companies, in houses and barns, and wherever they could be concealed from the officers of law; and, lastly, the Catholics. An understanding of New England history requires that this distinction between the Separatists and Non-conforming Puritans be carefully noticed. The latter believed that the form of religious service should be prescribed by law, and that the civil magistrates might and should punish persons for heretical belief and practices: the other believed in the entire separation of church and state.

On the accession of James (1603), the first of the Stuarts on the throne of England, the Puri

" The Stuarts and tans hoped for favor; but they were disap- the Popular pointed. Seeing nothing to hope for at Party. home, they began that emigration by which the Puritan colonies in New England were peopled. There began now a struggle between the king, determined to exercise arbitrary power, and the Commons, who had been growing stronger, and among whom Puritans were numerous. The Commons claimed, and, after a time, succeeded in securing, the right to judge of the elections of their own members. They contended for free speech in Parliament, for the right to discuss all matters pertaining to the general interest of the kingdom, for exemption from arbitrary imprisonment, and that there should be no taxation without their assent. All these claims were resisted by James, and after him by Charles. They summoned parliaments to grant them money for carrying on the government; the Commons demanded redress of grievances as a condition of voting the supplies. This, in general, was the attitude of the two contending parties.

Early in the reign of Charles (1628), the Commons framed an instrument called the Petition Petition of of Right, to which the king unwillingly Right. assented. In this the Commons complained of illegal and unjust procedure, and claimed four rights: first, that no person should be compelled to pay any tax levied without consent of Parliament; second, that no freeman should be imprisoned except by regular legal

« AnteriorContinuar »