Reformation: reformulation, reiteration and reflection
in The Debate on the English Reformation
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The historian studying the English Reformation debate in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries is essentially examining the attempts of some contemporary writers to use historical interpretation to shape the nature of the Reformation itself. In the mid-nineteenth century the Church of England experienced anew a crisis of identity which, incidentally, it has never been able to solve. Early nineteenth-century writings on the Reformation also drew attention away from the internal affairs of the Reformation Church. Institutional history played little part in the debate: the focus was essentially political. Henry VIII, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas Cranmer, Anne Boleyn biographers abounded to explain and justify their Reformation roles. By the Age of Revolutions the debate about the nature of the English Reformation was part of the language of politics. Features of the conflict between Catholic and reformer in the sixteenth century which illuminated the current debate were selected for attention.


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