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History of Religion in Britain Essay


The predominant religious beliefs amongst the people of the British Isles during the early modern period were based on Christianity. Conventionally, the culture was largely monotheistic with Christianity as the key religion. However, the society was divided between Catholicism, which was introduced by the Roman Empire, and Protestantism, which underscored a sect that had defied Roman Catholicism. Christianity was very popular amongst the natives of the British Isles (Monod 4). By 1547, Protestantism had gained popularity and it was threatening to dislodge Catholicism as the widely accepted Christian faith.

The majority of people had started defying and questioning the place and role of Catholic rituals based on the Reformation spirit that human beings did not need other human beings in a bid to access God’s salvation and mercy. This assertion underscores how Catholicism lost its popularity during this time. Roman Catholicism was replete with rituals of confessions and communion, but the Protestants were against such practices, and thus they revolved.

Roman Catholicism was the officially recognized Christian religion during this time even though Protestants were fighting for their place in the country. Edward VI promoted Protestantism, but after he died in 1553, Mary I promoted Roman Catholicism, thus thwarting any efforts to advance the Protestants’ religious concerns. Elizabeth I endeavored to reconcile the two warring sides by endorsing the Elizabethan settlement of the Church, which was based on parliamentary acts and injunctions (Monod 10). However, the Protestants opposed this move, as they believed in predestination with God as the sole being who could decide on the people’s salvation.

The different religious practices amongst the Roman Catholics and Protestants kept people of the British Isles divided. The Protestants believed in the 39 Articles of Faith, while Catholics believed in the different rituals as enshrined in Catholicism. These differences led to animosity. For instance, Queen Mary burned Protestants for they could not bow to her Catholicism beliefs.

Monod explains that in the eyes of Protestants, Catholics were anti-God and due to the many rituals that they practiced, they came out as superstitious people (10). This assertion highlights how the different religious affiliations caused animosity, which ultimately led to the division of people of the British Isles in the early modern period.

The differences in religious beliefs also caused rifts and divisions within governments. For instance, in 1560, the Scottish Parliament promulgated the Scottish Reformation, which denounced the papal authority and the Holy Mass. However, Mary, the Queen of Scotts, remained a Catholic, which caused differences between the parliament and the monarchy.

After the civil war of the 1567, which led to the deposition of Mary, she escaped to England, where she was executed under the command of Elizabeth I. Even though Elizabeth I gave different reasons for the execution of Mary, it is important to note that Elizabeth I abhorred Catholicism as aforementioned. This example highlights how differences in religious beliefs and practices divided not only the common citizens, but also the ruling elite.

In conclusion, Christianity was the dominant religious belief in the British Isles during the early modern period. However, Christians were divided into Catholics and Protestants. These two groups believed in different Christian notions, which caused differences in the society. The different Christian practices and beliefs divided people of the British Isles during the early modern period as opposed to bringing unity.

Works Cited

Monod, Paul. Imperial Island: A History of Britain and Its Empire, 1660-1837, Chichester: Blackwell Publishing, 2009. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'History of Religion in Britain'. 1 May.

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