Oaths and the English Reformation (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History)
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The practice of swearing oaths was at the centre of the English Reformation. On the one hand, oaths were the medium through which the Henrician regime implemented its ideology and secured loyalty among the people. On the other, they were the tool by which the English people embraced, resisted and manipulated royal policy. Jonathan Michael Gray argues that since the Reformation was negotiated through oaths, their precise significance and function are central to understanding it fully. Oaths and the English Reformation sheds new light on the motivation of Henry VIII, the enforcement of and resistance to reform and the extent of popular participation and negotiation in the political process. Placing oaths at the heart of the narrative, this book argues that the English Reformation was determined as much by its method of implementation and response as it was by the theology or political theory it transmitted.
other foreign bishop in Convocation at the end of March, and they certainly signed this statement one or two months later. The new bishops Goodrich, Lee, and Capon swore an oath to the king in April 1534, an oath that explicitly rejected papal authority and acknowledged Henry’s supremacy. The rest of the bishops may have been forced to make another profession renouncing the Pope and his bulls at this time as well. In the summer of 1534, some of Henry’s bishops took the institutional profession,
‘errors’ on all those taking degrees in divinity from the university.82 The fact that the oath was abolished within a year indicates its controversial nature. Other oaths were occasionally tendered there as well. Writing from exile, Richard Marshall excused his refusal to preach Henry’s supremacy on grounds that it was against Scripture and the doctrine of the church as revealed in the Decretals, ‘which I was sworn openly in the University of Oxford to declare and stick unto’.83 As influential
1534. For example, when Edward Lord Stourton wrote to Cromwell that in the Charterhouse near Bonham seven monks refused to take the ‘othe’ until their prior returned from pilgrimage, we do not know whether the oath in question was the oath of succession or the institutional profession, much less why these monks desired to wait for the return of their prior before swearing.34 Our knowledge of Dr Richard Boorde is exceptional in that we can infer why he refused the oath, and from this can infer
are the vndoers of Christ Churche & of the Commons welth & not retorne bake from o[u]r good Jornay whils all o[u]r petioones be graunted soo helpe yow god your holidomme & by this boke. God save the kyng & all the trew commons’; NA sp1/114, fol. 181r (LP, xii (i) 147). For a slightly different version of this oath, see NA sp1/114, fol. 183r . Dodds and Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, ii:70. Dodds and Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, ii:78; Bush and Bownes, Defeat of the Pilgrimage, 223. 162 Oaths and
swearer did have to declare the oaths he had sworn in the Pilgrimage to be void, he was still free to hold this interpretation, for, as in 1534 after the oath of succession, his conscience was bound simply to be obedient to Henry. Of course, this raises questions about Henry’s motivation. Why would Henry administer to his subjects another vague and ambiguous oath that did not explicitly bind them to his new religious policy, when the vague and ambiguous nature of the oath of succession had