Clerical Marriage and the English Reformation: Precedent, Policy and Practiceby Helen L. Parish
Pub. Date: 08/01/2000
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
This volume is an examination of the debate over clerical marriage in Reformation polemic, and of its impact on the English clergy in the second half of the sixteenth century. Clerical celibacy was more than an abstract theological concept; it was a central image of mediaeval Catholicism which was shattered by the doctrinal iconoclasm of Protestant reformers. This study sets the debate over clerical marriage within the context of the key debates of the Reformation, offering insights into the nature of the reformers’ attempts to break with the Catholic past, and illustrating the relationship between English polemicists and their continental counterparts. The debate was not without practical consequences, and the author sets this study of polemical arguments alongside an analysis of the response of clergy in several English dioceses to the legalisation of clerical marriage in 1549. Conclusions are based upon the evidence of wills, visitation records, and the proceedings of the ecclesiastical courts. Despite the printed rhetoric, dogmatic certainties were often beyond the reach of the majority, and the author’s conclusions highlight the chasm which could exist between polemical ideal and practical reality during the turmoil of the Reformation.
Table of ContentsContents: Introduction; ’This act is in this country a monster’: clerical marriage in England during the Reformation; Celibate priesthood or married ministry?: the testimony of the Bible; ’Good and holy men’: clerical marriage and the example of the Early Church; ’Disunity and innovation’: the example of the mediaeval Church; Clerical celibacy as a mark of the Antichrist in English Reformation polemic; ’A compulsion from which they should be set free’: vows of celibacy and the English Reformation; ’Massinge and that cannot agre together’: clerical marriage and the Eucharist in English Reformation polemic; ’That they might better attend to the ministration of the gospel’: clerical marriage in England, 1549-70; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
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