King Henry VIII Orders English Language Bibles Placed in Every Church Hot

King Henry VIII Orders English Language Bibles Placed in Every Church

Anne Boleyn
Source: Wikipedia

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King Henry VIII of England orders that English language Bibles be placed in every church. This is part of a general shift in Henry's attitudes towards religion. Although he started his break from Rome out of a desire to have a male heir, he is becoming attached to the idea of being the supreme religious authority as well as the supreme political authority.

R. Po-chia Hsia writes in A Companion to the Reformation world:

"Henry had been pushed from schism into Reformation. The schism had led Henry to take advice from men who were reliably antipapal, evangelicals who wanted to go further than the king — Cranmer, Cromwell, Richard Foxe, and others. Their influence, and Lutheran demands, took Henry on toward Reformation.

And Henry's own views were shifting. He had not set out to be supreme head of the church, but he found he rather liked it, caring for his subjects' souls as well as their bodies, purifying religion for the good of the realm. In royal injunctions for the church in 1536 and 1538, the king tackled "superstition" — veneration of images and relics was banned, pilgrimage was discouraged — and he ordered every parish church to have an English Bible.

When the official "Great Bible" was published in 1539, its frontispiece showed Henry handing out Bibles to Cranmer and the bishops on his right and to Cromwell and the councilors on his left, who then passed "Verbum Dei" to the people — while Christ looked down approvingly from the clouds. That was how Henry had come to see himself, as God's agent bringing true religion."

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