Tma04 Tradition and Dissent

Option 1 – Tradition and Dissent in English Christianity
How different was English Christianity in the reign of Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603) from that of the childhood of Roger Martyn (born c. 1527)?
From the time of Roger Martyn’s childhood to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, English Christianity had changed in many ways. The Protestant following had grown quite substantially during this time which tried to supress the Catholic practices of which Martyn loved and remembered so vividly.
Before the Reformation, ‘the dominant expression of Christianity emphasised the importance of tradition and the authority of the church as the interpreter of Christian teaching’ (Book 2, Chapter 2, p75). This idea of tradition was expressed during Martyn’s childhood; he believed that the rituals and sacraments administered by the church were vital for personal salvation. They also focused on numerous holy days and held processions to celebrate them – ‘Upon Palm-Sunday, the Blessed Sacrament was carryed in precession about the church-yard, under a fair canopy… with the Blessed Sacrament, and with a little bell & singing’’ (Book 2, Reading 3.1, p100). They believed that such processions and music highlighted the presence of God. It’s evident that during this time Christianity was linked very closely with community life whether this was in the actual community or within parish worship. Catholics also believed that religious inspiration could be found within artefacts and visual imagery. This is clear in Martyn’s account of Long Melford Church in Suffolk. The language he uses is very visual and allows us to imagine exactly what it was like to be a Catholic in the 1530’s. The first thing which is striking in this account is his description of the church itself, he explains in great detail the elaborate sculptures – ‘At the back of the high alter, in said church, there was a goodly mount… Carved very artificially, with the story of Christ’s Passion, representing the horsemen with their...