A Level History: The Tudor Monarch and the Religion of the State- One Body


“The personal religious beliefs of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I explain the religious changes of the years 1547-66” Do you agree?

I remember how I first felt when I saw this question whilst studying the Tudors: “It is the question of doom”, I despaired, my eyes slowly widening in quickly escalating horror. I read it twice on the paper, word for word, looking for an easy way out. Finding none, I am anguised by a deep pessimism and I wonder how I will survive to see my next birthday. The chances do not look good. This question is a jumble of three reigns. Like putting three scoops of ice-cream on a cone that can only handle one, I am burdened by a deep confusion. 

Yet that was my problem- attempting to tackle all three reigns at once. Separate them, and the question looks a little less vicious.

That is not really a satisfying answer to the question though. Whether you have arrived here because you are keen on learning more about aspects of the Tudor monarchies, or if you are a History student looking for some help on your essays, that little sentence: “Separate them, and the question looks a little less vicious” is not going to do you much good.

But have no fear! This article will give you all the answers you are looking for. By the end of it, you may well find yourself smiling at the simplicity of it all.

“The personal religious beliefs of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I explain the religious changes of the years 1547-66.” Do you agree?

THE “YES” ARGUMENT: The royal authority and ultimate sovereignty of the monarch allowed them to exert their power in constructing religious policy, shaping it to reflect their own religious beliefs.


But, there are disagreements…

THE “NO” SIDE: The role of advisors to the monarch was a particularly significant one in that they could arguably exert a substantial degree of influence on the monarch in considering their [the advisors’] own religious beliefs in shaping religious policy.


If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will be familiar with a phrase I normally use: “There is no right or wrong answer to this question”

But, today I am going to surprise you

What one can observe from the changing direction of the Church of England (Mostly Catholic during the reign of Henry VIII, Protestant during Edward VI’s reign, Catholic during Mary I’s reign and Protestant during the reign of Elizabeth I) is that in the event of a monarch with one religious ideology being succeeded by another with a differing religious ideology, the direction of the church swings between Protestant and Catholic. What this chiefly demonstrates is the immense influence of the religious beliefs of the Tudor Kings and Queens in shaping the official religion of the state. It is a conclusion I advocate, yet of course you are entitled  to your judgement so the answer does ultimately, as with any other debate, remain with you.

So what do you think about this issue? I would love to hear your responses to this article! Write away below!

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  1. I was set this question to plan an essay for homework and I was completely stuck. After reading this I felt more confident about what I could write. I also included points such as Elizabeth refused to be excommunicated by the Pope, therefore she remained more moderate in her religious policy, and that legislation was easily passed for all three monarchs.


    1. It is fantastic to hear this site helped you feel more confident about writing your essay! You raise some interesting points which I will be sure to look into; I truly appreciate your contribution, kind message and the time you put into commenting 🙂 Hope your essay went well!


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