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

When threatened with papal excommunication


It

is true that we find complaints on the part of men like Jewel of ritualistic practices which they do not like; but these in almost every case refer to worship in the royal chapel. The services there were well known, and both friends and foes of the Reformation seemed to take it for granted that what was the fashion in the royal chapel would soon extend to the rest of the realm.[576] Historians have usually attributed the presence of crosses, vestments, lights on the altar, to the desire of the Queen to conciliate her Romanist subjects, or to stand well with the great Roman Catholic Powers of Europe. It is quite likely that the Queen had this thought in her mind. Elizabeth was a thrifty lady, and liked to bring down many birds with the one stone. But the one abiding thought in the mind of the astute Queen was to stand well with the Lutherans, and to be able, when threatened with papal excommunication, to take shelter under the aegis of the Peace of Augsburg.

When the Government had secured the passing of the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, they were in a position to deal with the recalcitrant clergy. Eleven of the English Episcopal Sees had been vacant at the accession of Elizabeth, among them that of the Primate; for Cardinal Pole had died a few hours after Mary, In the summer and autumn of 1559 the sixteen Bishops were called upon to sign the Oath of Supremacy, in which the papal rule over the Church of England was abjured, and the Queen declared

to be the Supreme Governor of the Church. All the Bishops, more or less definitely, refused to take the oath; although three were at first doubtful. They were deprived, and the English Church was practically without Bishops.[577] Some of the deprived Bishops of King Edward's time survived, and they were restored. Then came discussion about the manner of appointing new ones. Some would have preferred a simple royal nomination, as in Edward's time; but in the end it was resolved that the appointment should be nominally in the hands of the Deans and Chapters according to mediaeval rule, with the proviso, however, that the royal permission to elect had first to be given, and that the person named in the "leave to elect" should be chosen. Then the question of consecration gave rise to some difficulties; but these were got over in ways which were deemed to be sufficient. Matthew Parker, after more than one refusal, was nominated and consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury. Lists of clerical persons suitable for promotion were prepared for the Queen,[578] and the other Sees were gradually filled. The Elizabethan episcopate, with the exception of the few Edwardine Bishops, was an entirely new creation. A large number of the Deans and members of the Cathedral Chapters had also refused to sign the Oath of Supremacy; they were deprived, and others who were on the lists were appointed in their place. The inferior clergy proved to be much more amenable, and only about two hundred were in the end deprived. The others all accepted the "alteration of religion"; and the change was brought about quietly and without the riotings which had accompanied the alterations made in the days of Edward, or the wholesale deprivations which had followed upon those made by Queen Mary--when almost one-third of the beneficed clergy of the Church of England had been removed from their benefices. A similar passive acquiescence was seen in the introduction of the new Book of Common Prayer, and in the fulfilment of the various orders for the removal of images, etc. The great altars and crucifixes were taken away, and the pictures covered with whitewash, without any disturbances to speak of.


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