Romancing the Eucharist
Confessional conflict and Elizabethan romances
in Forms of faith
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The Roman Catholic liturgy and doctrine of transubstantiation were maintained during the early years of Reformation under Henry VIII. When Henry's young son Edward ascended the throne, the English Reformation gained momentum. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and the leading theologian during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, gradually adopted Huldrych Zwingli's figurative understanding of the sacraments as the official Anglican position, and reformed the liturgy accordingly. This chapter focuses on crucial moments in Philip Sidney's romance narrative Arcadia that are informed by Eucharistic thinking, rituals, and emotional experience. As a remnant of the officially abandoned faith, the Catholic Eucharist remained an active force in Elizabethan culture for a wealth of reasons. Not only did a considerable group of Englishmen and women cling to the old faith, but the potential official return to Catholicism also remained an issue in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Forms of faith

Literary form and religious conflict in early modern England

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