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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

And repress all manner of heresies


Lords, induced by the Marian Bishops, had wrecked the Government's plan for an alteration of religion.

The Queen then intervened. She refused her assent to the Bill, on the dexterous pretext that she had doubts about the title which it proposed to confer upon her--_Supreme Head of the Church_.[541] She knew that Romanists and Calvinists both disliked it, and she adroitly managed to make both parties think that she had yielded to the arguments which each had brought forward. The Spanish Ambassador took all the credit to himself; and Sandys was convinced that Elizabeth had been persuaded by Mr. Lever, who "had put a scruple into the Queen's head that she would not take the title of Supreme Head."[542]

The refusal of Royal Assent enabled the Government to start afresh. They no longer attempted to put everything in one Bill. A new Act of Supremacy,[543] in which the Queen was declared to be "the only supreme governor of this realm ... as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes as temporal," was introduced into the Commons on April 10th, and was read for a third time on the 13th. Brought into the Lords on April 14th, it was read for a second time on the 17th, and finally passed on April 29th. If the obnoxious title was omitted, all the drastic powers claimed by Henry VIII. were given to Elizabeth. The Elizabethan Act revived no less than nine of the Acts of Henry VIII.,[544] and among them the statute

concerning doctors of civil law,[545] which contained these sentences: "Most royal majesty is and hath always been, by the Word of God, Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England, and hath full power and authority to correct, punish, and repress all manner of heresies ... and to exercise all other manner of jurisdiction commonly called ecclesiastical jurisdiction"; and his majesty is "the only and undoubted Supreme Head of the Church of England, and also of Ireland, to whom by Holy Scripture all authority and power is wholly given to hear and determine all manner of causes ecclesiastical." Thus the very title Supreme Head of the Church of England was revived and bestowed on Elizabeth by this Parliament of 1559. It may even be said that the ecclesiastical jurisdiction bestowed upon Elizabeth was more extensive than that given to her father, for _schisms_ were added to the list of matters subject to the Queen's correction, and she was empowered to delegate her authority to commissioners--a provision which enabled her to exercise her supreme governorship in a way to be felt in every corner of the land.[546] This Act of Supremacy revived an Act of King Edward VI., enjoining that the communion should be given in both "kinds," and declared that the revived Act should take effect from the last day of Parliament.[547] It contained an interesting proviso that nothing should be judged to be heresy which was not condemned by canonical Scripture, or by the first four General Councils "or any of them."[548]

The same Parliament, after briefer debate (April 18th

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