Bishop Gardiner, who had been kept in prison while Parliament was in session lest his presence in the Upper House might lead to trouble, was released in January 1548, but in May a peremptory summons was issued commanding him to come to London without delay. He obeyed, and for some time negotiations were carried on, until at last he was ordered to preach against the Pope, monasteries, confession, and in favour of the English Communion service (29th June). He was urged not to treat of the sacrifice of the Mass, or of Transubstantiation, and warned of the serious consequences that might ensue in case he disobeyed; but Gardiner was a man who could not be deterred by such means from speaking his mind, and as a consequence he was again placed under arrest, and sent as a prisoner to the Tower. Cranmer, who had rejected the authority of the Pope because he was a foreigner, finding that he could get no support from the clergy or the universities--for in spite of everything that had taken place the theology of Oxford and Cambridge was still frankly conservative--invited preachers to come from abroad to assist in weaning the English nation from the Catholic faith. The men who responded to his call formed a motley crowd. They were Germans like Martin Bucer and Paul Fagius, Italian apostate friars like Peter Martyr (Pietro Martire Vermigli) and Ochino, Frenchmen like Jean Véron, Poles like John à Lasco, Belgians like Charles Utenhove, à Lasco's disciple, and Jews like Emmanuel Tremellius. The order for the total removal of images and for the Communion service in English led to serious disturbances even in the London churches, where the new opinions should have found the strongest support, and confusion reigned throughout the country.
The Communion service in England was, however, only the prelude to the total abolition of the Mass. Early in 1548 a series of questions had been addressed by Cranmer to the bishops regarding the value of the Mass as a religious service apart from the Communion. The bishops were asked to say also whether private Masses offered for the living and the dead should continue to be celebrated, and what language should be used. In their replies Cranmer and Ridley favoured innovation, and were supported generally by Holbeach, Barlow, Cox, and Taylor. One, Bishop Goodrich of Ely, expressed his willingness to accept whatever might be enjoined, while the rest of the bishops adopted a conservative attitude. But whatever might be the opinions of the bishops generally the Protector and Cranmer were determined to procure the abolition of the Mass. Later in the year an assembly of the bishops was held to discuss the new English service to be substituted in its place. It is difficult to determine what precisely was done at this meeting. From the discussions which took place afterwards in the House of Lords it is clear that the bishops could not agree upon the Eucharist, that all with one exception signed their names to a rough draft drawn up on the understanding that they did not commit themselves thereby to Cranmer's views, and that the episcopal report was changed by some authority before it was presented to Parliament, especially by the omission of the word "oblation" in regard to the Mass. That the Book of Common Prayer as such was ever submitted to or approved by a formal convocation of the clergy cannot be shown.
Parliament met in November 1548. To put an end to the religious confusion that had arisen an Act of Uniformity enjoining on all clergy the use of the Book of Common Prayer was introduced. The main discussion centred around the Eucharist and the Mass. Bishop Tunstall of Durham objected that by the omission of the Adoration it was implied that there was nothing in the Sacrament except bread and wine, a contention that he could not accept, as he believed in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ both spiritual and carnal. Bishop Thirlby of Westminster maintained that the bishops had never agreed to the doctrine contained in the Book regarding the Eucharist but had allowed it merely to go forward for discussion. The Protector reproved him warmly for his tone and statement, but Thirlby stood firmly by his point of view, adding the interesting item of information that when the Book left the hands of the bishops it contained the word "oblation" in reference to the Mass, which word had since been omitted. Bonner of London pointed out that the Book of Common Prayer, embodying as it did statements condemned abroad and in England as heresy, should not be accepted. Cranmer and Ridley defended strongly the Eucharistic doctrine it contained. When the disputation between the bishops had been closed (19th Dec., 1548) the Bill for Uniformity was brought down and read in the Commons. Of the bishops present in the House of Lords ten voted in favour of the measure and eight against it. Gardiner was still in prison, the Bishop of Llandaff, who had spoken against Cranmer, was absent from the division, and some others are not accounted for.
The first Act of Uniformity (1548), as it is called, displaced the Mass as it had been celebrated for centuries in the English Church, and substituted in its place the new liturgy contained in the /Book of Common Prayer/. This latter while differing completely from any rite that had been followed in the Catholic Church, had a close affinity both in regard to the rites themselves and the ceremonies for the administration of the Sacraments to the liturgy introduced by the German Lutherans. According to the Act of Parliament it was to come into force on Whit Sunday the 9th June (1549). That it was expected to meet with strong opposition is evident from the prohibition against plays, songs, rhymes, etc., holding it up to ridicule, as well as by the heavy fines prescribed against those who might endeavour to prevent clergymen from following it. Forfeiture of a year's revenue together with imprisonment for six months was the penalty to be inflicted on any clergyman who refused to follow the new liturgy. Complete deprivation and imprisonment were prescribed for the second offence, and the third offence was to be punished by life-long imprisonment. For preventing any clergyman from adopting the new liturgy the penalties were for the first offence a fine of ￡10, for the second ￡20, and for the third forfeiture and perpetual imprisonment. Finally Parliament satisfied Cranmer's scruples by permitting clergy to contract marriages.
The attempt to abolish the Mass and to force the new liturgy on the English people led to risings and disturbances throughout the country. In London, where it might have been expected that the influence of the court should have secured its ready acceptance, many of the churches maintained the old service in spite of the frantic efforts of Cranmer and his subordinates. Bishop Bonner was reproved sharply for encouraging the disobedience of his clergy, and as he failed to give satisfaction to the government he was committed to prison. In Devonshire and Cornwall the peasants and country gentlemen rose in arms to protest against the new service which they had likened to a Christmas game, and to demand the restoration of the Mass, Communion under one kind, holy water, palms, ashes, images, and pictures. They insisted that the Six Articles of Henry VIII. should be enforced once more and that Cardinal Pole should be recalled from Rome, and honoured with a seat at the council. In the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where royal visitors and hired foreigners like Peter Martyr, Bucer, and Ochino were doing their best to decatholicise these seats of learning, violent commotions took place, that served to arouse both students and people, and soon the country around Oxford was in a blaze. The religious disturbances encouraged those who preferred small farms and sturdy labourers to grazing inclosures and sheep to raise the standard of revolt against the new economical tendencies, and to accept the leadership of the Norfolk tanner, William Kett. By the strenuous exertions of the Protector and the council, backed as they were by foreign mercenaries raised in Italy and Germany to fight against Scotland, these rebellions were put down by force, and the leaders, both lay and clerical, were punished with merciless severity. The disturbed condition of the country, however, the open dissatisfaction of the Catholic party, the compromises that were offered to those who fought against inclosures, and the unfortunate war with France into which the country had been plunged, pointed to Somerset's unfitness for the office of Protector. A combination was formed against him by the Earl of Warwick, assisted by the leaders of the Catholic party. He was arrested, found guilty, and deprived of all his offices (Dec. 1549), and the Earl of Warwick, created later Duke of Northumberland, secured the principal share in the new government.
Cranmer and his foreign assistants were filled with alarm for the future of their cause. They feared that the new administration would be controlled by Wriothesley, ex-Chancellor, the Arundels, Southwell and other prominent Catholics, that Gardiner and Bonner might be released from imprisonment, and that the demands of many of the insurgents for the abolition of the Book of Common Prayer and the restoration of the Mass might be conceded. The Catholic party were filled with new hope; in Oxford and throughout the country the old missals and vestments that had been hidden away were brought forth again, and the offices and Mass were sung as they had been for centuries. But Warwick soon showed that the change of rulers meant no change in the religious policy of the government. Gardiner and Bonner were still kept in confinement; Wriothesley was dismissed from the council; many of the other Catholic noblemen were imprisoned, and Somerset who was supposed to have fallen a victim to the hatred of the Catholics was released from his prison and re-admitted to the privy council (1550). By the inglorious war with France and by the still more inglorious peace of Boulogne the government felt itself free to devote its energies to the religious situation at home. Warwick went over completely to the camp of the reforming party and determined in consultation with them to push forward the anti-Catholic campaign.
The Parliament that assembled in November 1549 was distinctly radical in its tendencies. In the House of Lords the bishops complained that their authority had been destroyed, and that their orders were set at naught. In reply they were requested to formulate a proposal for redress, but on such a proposal having been submitted, their demands were regarded by the laymen as exorbitant. A commission was appointed against the wishes of a strong minority of the bishops to draw up a new Ordinal as a complement to the Book of Common Prayer. The committee was appointed on the 2nd February 1550, and it appears to have finished its work within a week. In the new /Ordinal/ (1550) the ceremonies for the conferring of tonsure, minor orders, and sub- deaconship were omitted entirely, while the ordination rites for deacons, priests, and bishops were considerably modified. Just as the sacrificial character of the Mass had been dropped out of the Book of Common Prayer, so too the notion of a real priesthood disappeared from the forms for ordination. In spite of the opposition of a large body of the bishops, an Act was passed ordering the destruction of all missals, antiphonals, processionals, manuals, ordinals, etc., used formerly in the service of the Church and not approved of by the king's majesty, as well as for the removal of all images "except any image or picture set or graven upon any tomb in any church, chapel or churchyard only for a monument of any king, prince, nobleman or other dead person who had not been commonly reputed and taken for a saint." As a result of this measure a wholesale destruction of valuable books and manuscripts took place in the king's own library at Westminster and throughout the country. The royal visitors, entrusted with the difficult work of Protestantising Oxford, acting under the guidance of Dr. Cox, chancellor of the University or "cancellor" as he was called, ransacked the college libraries, tore up and burned priceless manuscripts or sold them as waste paper, and even went so far as to demand the destruction of the chapel windows, lest these beautiful specimens of art might encourage loyalty to the old religion that had inspired their artists and donors.
As it had been determined to abandon completely the religious conservatism of the former reign it was felt absolutely necessary to remove the Catholic-minded bishops, to make way for men of the new school on whom the government could rely with confidence. Gardiner of Winchester and Bonner of London were already in prison. Heath of Worcester, who had refused to agree to the new Ordinal, was arrested in March 1550, as was also Day of Chichester in October. Tunstall of Durham, whose conservative views were well known to all, was placed under surveillance in May 1551, and thrown into prison together with his dean in the following November. In a short time a sentence of deprivation was issued against Bonner, Heath, Day and Gardiner. Bishop Thirlby of Westminster, who had given great offence by his uncompromising attitude regarding the Blessed Eucharist, was removed from Westminster, where his presence was highly inconvenient, to Norwich, and the aged Bishop Voysey was forced to resign the See of Exeter to make way for a more reliable and more active man. At the same time steps were taken in the universities to drive out the men whose influence might be used against the government's plans. The Sees of Westminster and London were combined and handed over to Ridley of Rochester, one of Cranmer's ablest and most advanced lieutenants. Hooper, who looked to Zwingli as his religious guide, was appointed to Gloucester; but as he objected to the episcopal oath, and episcopal vestments, and as he insisted on his rights of private judgment so far as to write publicly against those things that had been sanctioned by the supreme head of the Church, it was necessary to imprison him before he could be reduced to a proper frame of mind for the imposition of Cranmer's hands (March 1551). Ponet was appointed to Rochester, and on the deprivation of Gardiner, to Winchester, where his scandalous and public connexion with the wife of a Nottingham burgher was not calculated to influence the longing of his flock for the new teaching. Scory was appointed to Rochester and afterwards to Chichester, and Miles Coverdale to Oxford.
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