Sunday, July 03, 2016

Question from KG - Tudor monarchs and Mass

How often would the Tudor monarchs have gone to Mass and what would the services have been like? Can anyone direct me to a really good source please? This is for a university project.

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

First and most obvious is the issue of *which* Tudor monarchs actually attended Mass (by which I must assume you mean Roman Catholic Mass). Henry VII and Henry VIII each attended Mass throughout their lives. Edward VI attended traditional Masses until 1547 and his accession, after which time worship services began to move away from the Mass. Mary attended Mass throughout her life, of course. Elizabeth I would, like Edward VI, have attended Mass until circa 1547, but between 1549 and 1553 she would have attended services that used the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 and 1552. Then during the reign of Mary, Elizabeth resumed attending Mass. But after the completion of the Elizabethan religious settlement early in the 1560s, she would have attended services that again used the Book of Common Prayer.

But I am not aware of any primary sources that offer solid information regarding the frequency with which each of the individual Tudor monarchs attended worship services. For Mary Tudor, I think daily attendance is a pretty safe assumption. For the rest, my guess would be several times per week. Tudor society was somewhat more pious than is modern society, and church services were available daily. But whether or not someone like Elizabeth I, whose personal piety remains indeterminate to modern historians, would have attended daily seems to me unlikely. Edward was probably quite fastidious in his attendance at worship, second only to Mary, but he did not attend Mass after 1547. Henry VIII very probably attended several times per week prior to the mid-1530s, but may well have been less attentive in later years.

But again, I am unfortunately not aware of any specific source that offers concrete data on attendance. I would suggest reading through the State Papers-Foreign to see whether any of the foreign ambassadors report home with any gossip regarding this issue. I know they did report on Mary's frequent attendance at Mass, as well as on the period during Edward's reign when she was officially barred from doing so.