By Eric Ives
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Extra info for The Reformation Experience: Life in a Time of Change
In the populous south the average was four square miles or less; in the wilds of Lancashire it was thirty-three. Taken overall, the English church was wealthy. Enquiries carried out in 1535 suggest that the church owned a fifth or more of the nation’s estate, giving it perhaps £400,000 a year, and that at a time when the crown struggled to raise £100,000. That is as Henry VIII saw it, but the comparison is somewhat unfair because it aggregates the incomes of thousands of individual recipients. These varied enormously.
England in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was, thus, a very diverse country, but it was a national unit nevertheless. 1 Government was already substantially centralized at Westminster. The legal systems were sophisticated and consultation mechanisms well established – most notably parliament. The laws it passed applied countrywide, as did any extra taxation it agreed to over and beyond that already enshrined in law. Other factors too affected the country generally. The population rise was the most important.
Pp. 91, 105, 169, 180, 229, 279: From The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2003. Printed with permission of Penguin Books Ltd. ” Ask churchgoers and the answer will almost certainly compound misunderstanding and tradition with myth and anachronism. But among historians, Reformation Studies flourish. Indeed, over the last forty years there has been a revolution in scholarship. The old explanations have been consigned to the graveyard of historical invention. The Protestant story of a failing church split apart by the recovery of the original Christian message is no longer credible.