Britania was dominated by loosely related Celtic tribes. Religious rites were conducted bt Druid priests. The Roman conquest (1st century AD) brought the religions of the Empire which overtime included Christianity. It is not well understood how widespread Christianity was established in Roman Britain, but there is reason to believe that it was fairly well established. The Legions departed and with them muh f the Roman elite (5th century). The invading Anglo Saxon tribes were pagan and drove the Romanized Celtic Britons to the westerly fringes of the island. This was a war of extinction. The Anglo-Saxons obliterated the Romanized Britons abd their cuture. Thus England was largely de-Chritianized. The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms obertime, however, were gradually converted. There were missoinaries from Catholic Ireland. Pope Gregory the Great dispached St. Augustine. under Archbishop Theodore, the Anglo-Saxons enjoyed a golden age of culture and scholarship before te arrival of the more pagan invaders--the Vikings. English missionaries, including Wilfrid, Willibrord, Lullus and Boniface would begin evangelizing their Saxon bretheran in Germany. Monastaries were oened throughout England and were a major force in the island's economy. Henry VIII brought the Reformation to England. This was not his intention. He simply wanted to control the Church. His children Edward VI and Elizabeth II would turn Britain into a Protestant country. The Angligan or established Church attempted to restrict the development of non-conforminf sects. The Puritans objected to these restrictions. One group established the Plymouth Colony as awade of evading restrictions on their worship. The Puritans played a major role in the development of the United Sttes. There remained a small and supressed Catholic minority. Over time this was increased with immigration from Ireland. Theology was a much disputed subject that was not fully resolved until the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.
Britania was dominated by loosely related Celtic tribes. Religious rites were conducted bt Druid priests.
The Roman conquest (1st century AD) brought the religions of the Empire which overtime included Christianity. It is not well understood how widespread Christianity was established in Roman Britain, but there is reason to believe that it was fairly well established. The Legions departed and with them muh f the Roman elite (5th century).
The invading Anglo Saxon tribes were pagan and drove the Romanized Celtic Britons to the westerly fringes of the island. This was a war of extinction. The Anglo-Saxons obliterated the Romanized Britons abd their cuture. Thus England was largely de-Chritianized.
The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms overtime, however, were gradually converted. There were missoinaries from Catholic Ireland. Pope Gregory the Great dispached St. Augustine. St. Augustine arrived in Kent (597).
King Edwin of Northumbria is converted (627). East Anglia is converted (630).
St. Cuthbert is born (634). Mercia is converted (653).
Gradually the Roman Church emerged dominant over the Celtic Church. Under Archbishop Theodore, the Anglo-Saxons enjoyed a golden age of culture and scholarship before the arrival of the more pagan invaders--the Vikings. English missionaries, including Wilfrid, Willibrord, Lullus and Boniface would begin evangelizing their Saxon bretheran in Germany.
Monastaries were opened throughout England and were a major force in the island's economy.
The monastery at Lindesfarne is founded (635). St. Botolph founds the monastery at Ikenho (654).
The monastaries were centers of learning in a largely illiterate population. Boys were accepted as choristers who were educated for the priesthood. A few English schools trace their history to these monastic schools.
The history of the medieval English Church might be see to begin with arrival of the first papal legates (787). The Church was influenced by both Celtic and Romam Christianity, but the Roman Church gradualy prevailed. Litchfield was establshed as an archbishopric (788). Just as the medieval English church begins to take shape, the Viking raids begin. The Danes (Viking) raider sack Lindesfarne (793). The Danes almost overun Anglo-Saxon Christian Britain, but King Alfred drives the Danes from Wessex (877) and suceeds in becoming the first king of England (886). Withinthis political structure the English Church develops. William's defeat of Harold at Hastings (1066) results in the appoitment of Norman clerics. The Synod of Westminster settles the lay investiture dispute in Britain (1107). Henry II becimes king (1155). He comes into conflict with the Church. He appoints Thomas � Becket becomes Chancellor. Henry II does penance for the murder of Becket (1174). Richard I the Lion-hearted becomes king (1189). Richard crusades in the Holy Land. Pope Innocent III excomunicates King John (1209). The Church continues to be the central force in education. Cambridge University is founded (1209). The Jews are expelled from England (1290). The Plague (Black Death) reaches Engkland (1348). The Plague has a huge impact, including economic and social. Many begin to questin religion. John Wycliffe releases his Treatises (1375). John Wycliffe denies transubstantiation (1379) and he is condemned (1380). The first translation of the Bible into English appears (1382). A council at London condemns Nicholas of Hereford. Wycliffe dies (1384). Richard II orders the works of Nicholas of Hereford seized (1388). Nicholas of Hereford recants and is named inquistor against the Lollards (1391). Parliament passes Burning of Heretics Act (1401).
Henry VIII brought the Reformation to England. This was not his intention. He simply wanted to control the Church. Almost independent of the German Refomation was the Reformation in England, but this proved to be crucial because of the future imperial role of England. Political rather than relogious issues were to drive the Renaissance in England. It was a Defender of the Faith, Henry VIII that set the Reformation in motion in England. Henry VIII decided to divorce his wide, the Spanish princess Catherine. He was furious when Pope Clement VII refused to approve the divorce. In response he rejected papal authority over the Church in England. He founded the Anglican Church and set himself up as head of the new church (1534). While sparked by his personal life, the break with Rome had many advantages for Henry. One of the most important was the wealth of the Church was now at his disposal. Much of this he seized by closing the monestarires. Huge quantities of land were in 6the hands of the monestaries. The first tentative steps toward actual reformation was a liturgy in English and The Book of Common Prayer.
Henry's lesser known and very devout Protestant son Edward VI played a major role in the success of the Reformation in England. Elizabeth would turn Britain into a Protestant country.
The Angligan or established Church attempted to restrict the development of non-conforminf sects. The Puritans objected to these restrictions. One group established the Plymouth Colony as awade of evading restrictions on their worship. The Puritans played a major role in the development of the United States.
There remained a small and supressed Catholic minority. Over time this was increased with immigration from Ireland.
Theology was a much disputed subject that was not fully resolved until the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.
The Enlightenment was a European intellectual movement following and influenced by the religious wars following the Reformation. Important thinkers published their ideas concerning God, humanity, nature, reason, social relationships, and other issues. Gradually Europeans began to synthesized their thoughts into a comprehensive, more secular worldview. They led to major even revolutionary changes, inclusing the American and French Revolutiins. Europeans began to develop new iseas about art, economics, government, and philosophy. Central to Enlightenment thinkers was the importance of the human facualty for reason. Some authors fir this reason refer to the Enligtenment as the Age of Reason. Increasingly people began to think that Faith was no as central to existence as it once was and that man was capable of not only understanding the natural world, but of using that understanding to improve the human condition. We mention the Enlightenment here in our discussion of religion because of the overt anti-clerical element as well as the indirect impact on relgion resulting from an emphassis on reason. The goals of humanity began to shift from Faith and the after life to knowledge, freedom, and happiness, vriously expressed. The Americans phrased it as 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Hapiness'. The French phrased it, 'Libert�, Egalit�, Fraternit�'. The center of the Enlightenment was Fremch philosophes, but there were also many important English thinkers, perhaps more important than the French. Thomas Hobbes laid the foundation for Rosseau's social contract. While he supported the idea royal absolutism for the sovereign, but developed ideas on which European liberal thought is founded. These include: individual rights, natural equality, 'representative' goverment based on consent, and legal limits (leaving people free to do what the law dies not specifically prohibit). Hobbes in particular saw any political order as being artificial. This led to the novel concept of a distinction between civil society and the state. Hobbes thinking might be considered more conservative than the thining of the French philisophes and is one reson why the English Enligtenment is often seen as more conservative than the French Enlightenment. John Locke is perhaps the most influential of all the English Enlightenment authors. He is known to have influenced the French philosophes (Rousseau, Voltaire, and others). His body of workm is unimagunably comprehensive, important works in mamy different fields. The greatest monument to his work his surelyb the United states Constituion, a document enhrining many of Locke's thoughts on government. Locje was associated with the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, who led a parliamentary grouping that evolved into the Whig Party. Locke's formulation was 'Life, Liberty and Property'--obviously the basis for the American formulatiin in the Declaration of Independence. Several decaded eralier, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, wrote "There is a mighty Light which spreads its self over the world especially in those two free Nations of England and Holland; on whom the Affairs of Europe now turn" (1706). Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the English Enlightement writers, adding women's rights to the issues raised by Enlightenment thinkers. [Wollstonecraft] Often excluded from a list of Enlightenment thinkers is Adam Smith whio laid the intelectual foundation fo free market capitalism. [Smith] While the English Enlightenment is commonly considered to be more conservative than the French, we would argue that Smith's contribution was vital and more radical than any of the French philosophes and for that matter Marx and the socialists to come. The key structurehere is the emphasis on 'liberty' and the omission of 'equality'--the conflict between the two was often missed by the French and many modern authors.
The role of religion in the African slave trade is mixed. Christian rulers and the Vatican had no moral quams about enslaving Africans and Nuslims, although Native Americans wre a different matter. The matter was debated at great length in the Spanish court. Islamic rulers also had no quams about enslabing Africans as well as Christians. It was, however, Christian Churches that proved to be the core od the abolitinist movement--primarily Protestant churches. And the Protestant churches in two countries were at the heart of the abolitionist movement--Britain and America. This was critical. Britain with its powerful Royal Navy was the only country capable of stoping the shipment of Africans by sea. Abolitionist movements in other countries would have had only a minor impact on the slave trade. America was key because as long slavery continued in America, slavery contined as a Western institution. American Abolitionists could not end slavery in America because of constitutional guarantees of state's rights. What the abolitionist movement did was to essentially create a movement in the south to secceed from the Union. Unlike the Christian West there never was an abolitionist movement within Islam which is why Islamic slavery continued into the 20th century.
The Victorian era, in part because of the growth of the middle-clas as a result of the Industrial Revolution, experienced a reviaval of relgious practive and expression uparalled since the Puritan dissenter era. Religion until the 19th century had been dominated by the upper classes except for the Reformation. The Middle Class became the rock bed of Christian faith during the Victorian era. The wiorking-class was more varied with many skeptical. One British reader explains, "There has always been an heathen under class with no religious belief. Hense the middle class supported the Salvation Army and others groups for the heathern poor. Middle class families studied the Bible nore than ever before. And it was still largely seen as literal truth by most. The skeptics and diests of the 18th century Enlightenmengt were much less in evidence. Clerics studied the Bible to calculate the exact day of creation. The Bible was the foundation of moral behavior and respectibility became a major goal of the middle class family. Some gave up simple pleasurs like dancing, games, and the theater, esecially on sunday. Modest dress was mandatory. Black became a popular color, especially with men and to a lesser extent boys. Victorian as a result would later become synonamous with prudish and narrowmindeness. It was widely believed that religious devoltion and the morality associated with it would put an end to both crime and poverty. This did not transpire, but British churches played a major role in ending the slave trade and in sending missionaries to the far corners of the world, including Africa, Oceania, and China. The Victorian era was not, however, a period of unquestioned deviotion. The Indusrial Revolution also fostered the development of science which would bring into question literal interpretatiins of the Bible. Charles Darwin published Origin of the Species (1859). He would have published earlier, but he feared the reaction of the religious establishment. Many were outraged. Others slowly began questioning Church doctrine. It is diffucult to separate the difference between religius faith and social respectibility during this period. We suspect this was something that many of the Victorians themselves could not separate.
Christianity continued to be very importat in the Edwardian era of the early-20th century. Important scientific and political developments during the 19th century in science (Darwinism) and politics (Marxism) impacted 20th century religiin and theology. This was the case throughout Europe invluding England. There was growing influence of scince as a cure all for sivial problems. Some and definitely not all increasingly questioned religion because of science. This faith in science recrived a shick when the suninkabkle RMS Titantic sank (1912). This was followed by the hiror of World War I which cused people to question the old cerrinties. This same process was further accelerated ny World War II. The result was a substantial secylarizaion of English society. The rise of the strongly Marxist Labour movement also led to the srcukarizatopm pf society. The failure of th Labour Party to create to worker paradise adtr winning the 1945 Generral Election showed that socialism was not an effective economic system. England went fro, the most prosperous country in Europe to lagging behind most od the Western European countries. Even so, the secular trend continued. Ro some extent this was the weakeness of the establishes Anglicamn Church of England. Aftr the War you basically have the suituation that the Archbishop of Centerbury and other church leaders were basically antheist humanitarians.
The vitality of Chrustianity lay with the discenting sects. Britain had become a fiercely Protestant country from the Reformation until the early 20th century. Many British historians have tended to portray the medieval Catholic Church as corrupt and wicked and to suggest that 'the Reformation' was the beginning of Britain's greatness which in fact was the case. One can question that Protestantusm was not the reason, but it is with Elisabeth and the trimphoh of Protestantismm that England which had been a small Eurooean backwater began its metoric rise. Over time, historians have revised these ideas. Revisionist historians have portrayed the Catholic Church as better than it was previously painted and questioned the impact of Protestantism. And because of the secularuzation of soviety, Christianity has been seen as less important, even reactinary. This is history wrottem by Marxust professors or Marxist indluenced professors. Actually Christianity has been a powerful firce in English history. It is socialism that has priven to be a failed ideology. It is true, however, that Christianity has declined in importance, but by the late--20th century you have basicakly a dechririnization of England. We see rhe same process in Europe. Nothing so demonstrates this than the empty pews in the great cathedrals and Anglican churches. In contrast, Isalm hascgrown in strength among the ost-War immoigrants to England.
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651).
Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations (1776).
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
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