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Settlement Act of Supremacy, Act of Uniformity

The Reformation of the Parliament


The fifth Parliament of King Henry VIII is known as the “Reformation Parliament”. They passed the first laws of the English Reformation which were then very important laws for the English parliament. However, King Henry pressurized a lot to the  Rome’s pope in legalizing the divorce of Henry from her wife Catherine of Aragon. The result of this pressure was the separation of the English Church from Catholicism.

As Church and pope were not in favour of King Henry, he used to attack them and doubt about the powers of the pope in the United Kingdom. He even charged the members of the church for not being loyal to him and favouring the church. Henry was also given the title of  “Defender of Faith” by the Pope. The church later forgave the king and charged him with some penalty.

What was the Act of Supremacy?

The decision of not granting the divorce was still firm by the church and this is when Henry decided to announce that the Pope did not have any power in England.

 The Church then forcibly accepted and agreed to the fact that Henry was now the “Protector and Supreme Head ” on earth of the English Church till laws of God allows. Then in May 1532, the English church gave up the power to make any law without the permission of the king in the “Submission of the Clergy “named document.

This was later known as “The Act of Supremacy 1532” which was then legalized in 1534. The further reformation gave more control and powers to Henry over and above the church.

What did the Act of Supremacy do?

The Act of Supremacy brought about in 1534, declared that Henry VIII as the absolute head of the church of England. The required an oath of loyalty from the people who recognized Henry’s marriage with Anne Boleyn.

Why was the Act of Supremacy important?

The Act of Supremacy passed by the Parliament of England is significant because it declared the English monarch as the head of the church. It replaced the pope as the highest authority over the church of England.

The Act of Restraints of Appeals

In 1533 this act was passed which stated that people could not question on the rule of Henry that was made above decisions and laws by public and church office and the realm of England is an Empire in itself. So the pope has no right to interfere in its matter.

 These also meant that divorce of Henry could be now legalized and he can now freely marry Anne Boleyn. Later on, 28th May 1533, Archbishop Cranmer announced that marriage of Catherine and Henry is void while his marriage to Anne is valid.

The Act of Succession

This Act was passed in 1534 and was the consequence of the previous Act of Succession in 1533. This Act made Elizabeth who was the daughter of King Henry and Anne Boleyn a legal heir to his throne. It also declared that half-sister of Elizabeth, Mary is now illegitimate and does not hold any succession to the throne.

Queen Elizabeth

The Act of Supremacy

The Act of Supremacy helped give the reigns of complete control of the Church of England into the hands of Queen Elizabeth. Under the reigns of her father Henry VIII and brother Edward VI, the monarch was always the ‘Head of the Church in England’.

However, under the rule of Elizabeth, she was given the title and position of the ‘Supreme Governor of the Church in England’. It is said this change was made to please the Catholics who thought the Church was under the Pope’s command. They could not accept the monarch to head the church.

They also insisted on taking an oath of supremacy, that requires anyone taking public or church office to swear allegiance to the monarchs as the head of the Church and State. If anyone who does not follow or refuse to take the other will be charged with the act of Treason.

Oath of Allegiance

It may also have been due to the gender issues of that time. Women were considered inferior in matters of religion and spirituality. Thus Elizabeth is in charge would not have gone down well in the male-dominated society. The Act of Supremacy also included the oath of loyalty to the queen. This means all the clergy had to take this oath or lose their office. This, the establishment of a High Commission was undertaken that ensured each and every clergy took the oath.

Dissolution of Lesser Monasteries Act

The Act was passed in the year 1536 and it began the dissolution of the monasteries. As per the survey carried out by Thomas Cromwell who was the leading minister of King Henry found out that the many religious houses and the monasteries were fully corrupted and were involved in many illegal practices.

The Act stated that any smaller monasteries were supposed to be closed and forced the closure of all religious houses of the United Kingdom. Their property would then belong to the king.

Act of Uniformity

The Act of Uniformity was the most important part of the Elizabethan Settlement of Religion. It helped in establishing set rules for worship. All the prayer books of Edward VI were integrated into one book. This prayer book was to be used by every church under the rule of Elizabeth.

Elizabethan Settlement Act of Supremacy and Uniformity

What did the 1559 Act of Uniformity do?

It was made compulsory for all to attend Church every Sunday and also on holy days. If one did not attend the Church, they were fined 12 pence. The collected fine was to be donated to the poor and needy. The Holy Communion was written in vague words, such that both the Catholics and Protestants could be a part of the religious meet.

The ornaments and vestments of the Church were retained. The act was opposed by many members of the Parliament who were Catholics. However, the act was passed by just 3 votes. The Act of Uniformity revoked the strict laws against Roman Catholics and also removed the abuse of Pope from the litany.

What were the main features of Elizabethan Religious Settlement?

  • All members of the church had to take the oath od supremacy if they wanted to maintain their post. Almost 80,000 priests and clergy did so.
  • The bishops, however, did not accept this and most of them had to step down. Elizabeth appointed twenty-seven new bishops in their place. This proved to be advantageous for her because she could put protestant in these positions.
  •  The Act of Supremacy and Uniformity declared Queen Elizabeth as the absolute governor of England as well as re-established Protestantism.
  • Church services had to held in English, although, some people disagreed to this and held Latic masses secretly.
  • The services included certain prayers for the queen and the priests were instructed about what to say in the sermons.

Act of Uniformity prayer book

How was the Elizabethan Settlement enforced?

The church was responsible to a great extent to ensure that the Act was being implemented. The bishops visited the church regularly to see whether everyone followed the oath of supremacy and the settlement rules.

Who had to take the oath of supremacy?

Any person holding a public office or church office in England had to take the oath of supremacy pledging allegiance to the English monarch and recognizing her as the absolute governor of the Church of England. Failing to do so was a treasonable offence.

When was the Elizabethan Settlement Implemented?

After a lot of protests and problems, the Elizabethan religious settlement was passed by the Parliament. If you are thinking when was the Elizabethan settlement implemented, then the answer is in the summer of 1559. Thus, the Elizabethan Religious Settlement is also called an Elizabethan Settlement of 1559.

Who opposed the Elizabethan settlement?

The Elizabethan Act of Settlement was introduced to keep all religious groups satisfied, which seemed to be successful. However, it failed to make everyone happy. A lot of Catholics did not accept it, along with some puritans who refused to make any compromises with the Catholics.

Thus, Elizabeth still had to face a lot of challenges and threats owing to this.

Religious Settlement

This is all about the Elizabethan Settlement of religion. The Elizabethan Religious Settlement proved to be far more successful than the reforms imposed by Mary I. This may be because Elizabeth I could reign over England for about 40 years and Mary I had just 5 years to rule.

You can go into more details about her reign in the Timeline of Queen Elizabeth the First. Hope the above information on Elizabethan Settlement of 1559 has helped you understand more about ‘The Revolution of 1559’.

More Info On- Elizabethan Politics and Government, Religion and Religious Beliefs

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