Saturday, October 25, 2014

Question from Sarah - Self-description of mid-Tudor Protestants

During the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I, what did English Protestants describe themselves as? Were the terms "Protestant" or "Anglican" in existence? I'm thinking mainly of people like Hugh Latimer.


PhD Historian said...

No, the term "Anglican" was not yet in existence during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I. It would not come into existence until the next century, in association with the attempt by Charles I to introduce a single prayer book across his three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The term "Protestant" did exist in the 1540s and 1550s, but was not yet used as a positive term to describe non-Catholics. It was coined in the 1530s in its Latin form to describe those who had protested against the anti-reform rulings of the Diet of Speyer. English non-Catholics of the sixteenth century did not yet have a single word to describe themselves. They tended instead to refer to themselves as "followers of true religion" or "followers of God's word" or "true Christians" (as opposed to "Papists," the English term most commonly used in the sixteenth century by non-Catholics to refer to Roman Catholics).

Mary R said...

I would advise you to look up "The Book of Common Prayer" by Thomas Cranmer (circa 1549).

Anonymous said...

Probably the real beginning of the Anglican Church originated with Thomas Cranmer's "The Book of Common Prayer"
circa 1549. Mary I's reign interrupted it's use for a short time, but much of it is still used in Anglican services today
Mary R

PhD Historian said...

I do not mean to quibble, but I wonder, Mary R, if you may perhaps have misunderstood the question: "Were the terms Protestant and Anglican in use during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary? Would Hugh Latimer have used those terms to describe himself?" The answer to both is "No."

"When did the Anglican Church itself (the organized system of doctrine and liturgical practice) originate?" is an entirely different question. You are correct that the Anglican Church effectively originated with the First Book of Common Prayer (though one might as easily argue that it originated with the Act of Supremacy of 1534). But the term "Anglican" did not come into use until the 1630s. Neither the word "Protestant" nor the word "Anglican" appear in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549. Nor did they appear in the Book of 1552 or the modified Book of 1559.