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History of the Church of England

In the winter of 2021, Dick Hickman presented a study of “The History of the Church in England (from AD 63–1563)—from the Roman occupation of Britain to the English Reformation.”  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the course was shared via video.


A Brief Summary with Links for Each Session

Study Guide:  Ecclesia Anglicana   

England’s Alternate National Anthem:  Jerusalem         

Elizabeth I’s Battle for God’s Music: God’s Music   

Texts Referenced by Dick: Course Bibliography

The Preview: The introduction to the course and a welcome to the student.


Session 1:  The overall purpose and theme of the course — The Christian church provided the foundation for western civilization and the English nation. — plus an overview of the Study Guide, available on the link above.


Session 2:  Three key dates: (1) 63 AD—Joseph of Arimathaea, according to legend, comes to Glastonbury; (2) 563 AD—St. Columba, an Irish monk, founds the mission at Iona; and (3) 1066 AD—William the Conqueror imposes the Norman church on the older Anglo-Saxon church.


Session 3:  The influence of Roman occupation on the civilization of the Celtic world of pre-Roman Britain and the effect of the Christian faith and teachings of Jesus on the values of the ancient world.


Session 4:  The end of the Roman Empire and the effective end of Roman civilization around the Mediterranean Sea—which followed from the Islamic conquests in the century after Mohammed’s death in 632—and caused the Roman church to look west.


Session 5: Charles Martel’s famous victory in 732—which saved Western Europe from Islamic imperialism and led to the advancement of western culture under Charlemagne; the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England; and the differences between the older, Celtic (or British) church and the Roman church, which arrived at Canterbury in 597 with St. Augustine.


Session 6:  The Viking invasions of the 9th century; the role of Alfred the Great in finally containing the Vikings in 878 and thus setting England on a path towards eventual unification; William the Conqueror and the Norman invasion’s effect on life and the church in England.


Session 7:  The Norman invasion through the rise of the imperial papacy; the conflicts between strong popes and strong kings; and the age of the great Gothic cathedrals.


Session 8:  The Calamitous 14th Century — the era of the Black Death, the Hundred Years War, the “Babylonian Captivity,” the Great Schism in the Roman Church, and the reaction of John Wycliffe and the Lollards — to 1450, the “end of the Middle Ages”.


Session 9, Part 1Session 9, Part 2:  The English royal succession from Edward III to Henry VIII, the Wars of the Roses, the momentous changes in England from 1450 to the fall of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529, and the beginning of the Tudor Revolution.


Session 10:  The beginning of the Reformation in 1517, the Peasants Revolt in 1524-25, the sack of Rome in 1527, and the “King’s Great Matter” in England (as Henry VIII seeks to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled).


Session 11:  The religious and political nature of the English Reformation, including: Henry VIII’s successful pressuring of Parliament to legislate the break with Rome — which resulted in the Submission of the Clergy, the Royal Supremacy, the Pilgrimage of Grace, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries; the first English Prayer Book and the Stripping of the Altars during the Protestant Ascendancy under Edward VI; the Marian Restoration; and the Elizabethan Settlement, which created the grand compromise known as the Church of England.


Session 12:  Concluding remarks and the lessons of history that we can draw from the study of the Church in England.

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