English Bible Under the Tudor Sovereigns

Pulpit Bible

This book was written as part of the celebration of the Fourth Centenary of the “setting up” of th English Bible in Parish Churches. “Setting up” refers to the placing from 1538 of a large vernacular Bible in every parish church so that anyone who could read could have access to it. W.T. Whitley traces the history of English Bible and translators through the Tudor period. This title is in the public domain.

W.T. Whitley [1861-1947], The English Bible Under the Tudor Sovereigns. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, n.d. Hbk. pp.127. [Click to visit the download page]


I. Erasmus and His Double Testament
II. The Wycliffite Versions
II. Tyndale: The Translator
IV. Coverdale: Editor of the First English Bible
V. Matthew: The First Licensed for Reading
VI. Taverner: Official Reviser
VII. The First Authorized Version
VIII. The Bible in Daily Worship
IX. The Family Bible and the Church Bible
X. The Douay Bible, for the Old School
XI. Thus Far, and Farther


The following pages are based on direct study of early Bibles, begun a generation ago. At least one copy of every first edition has been examined. Reprints of most are on the author’s shelves. A deliberate re-interpretation of some persons and episodes will be found.

It is intended to commemorate the royal order of September 1538, that a Bible of the largest size be placed in every church. A national committee regards this Injunction as crucial in inaugurating the Reformation in England, and it proposes to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary. In preparation, several pamphlets and books have been chosen, others have been revised, others are being written. This is the first to appear.

Attention is drawn here especially to Thomas Matthew’s edition of 1537 for several reasons. First, because the editor was the first to give his name openly, a sign that in 1537 public opinion no longer compelled anonymity….

English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century by W.H. Beckett

William Henry Beckett [1847-1901], The English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century with Chapters on Monastic England, and the Wycliffite ReformationWilliam Henry Beckett [1847-1901] intended this book to be a sketch of the history of the English reformation. He covers John Wycliffe and the Lollards, the Oxford reformers and progress of the movement under Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. This volume contains numerous portraits which I have made available at various resolutions. This title is in the public domain.

William Henry Beckett [1847-1901], The English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century with Chapters on Monastic England, and the Wycliffite Reformation. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1890. Hbk. pp.312. [Click to visit the main download page]


  • Introduction
    1. Destruction of Monasteries
    2. Attempts at Reformation
    3. Advance in Monastic Reform
    4. The Institution of the Friars, a Further Advance in Reform
    5. Bishops and Parochial Clergy
    6. The Spiritual Awakening
    7. The Great Plague and its Consequences
    8. The England of Wycliffe’s Days
    9. John Wycliffe
    10. The Early Followers of Wycliffe, or Lollards
    11. Lollard Literature
    12. The Later Lollards
    13. Oxford Reformers
    14. Contemporaries at Cambridge
    15. The Reformation Parliament and Convocation 1529-1536
    16. Reform of Doctrine
    17. Early Reformation Literature
    18. The Protectorate, 1547-1553
    19. Reformation Liturgies and Manuals of Spiritual Instruction, 1534-1553
    20. Reformation Preachers
    21. The Dark Days of Mary
    22. The Triumph of Spanish Policy, 1555-1558
    23. The Elizabethan Compromise
    24. Doctrines of the English Reformation
    25. ‘The Romanist Martyrs’
  • Chonological Summary
  • Appendix I
  • Appendix II
  • Appendix III
  • Appendix IV


When on the 29th day of April, in the year 1509, the young Prince Henry Tudor, at the ago of eighteen, succeeded to the throne left vacant by the death of his father, Henry VII., the country of which he became monarch was already in a transition state. ‘Old things were passing away, and the faith and the life of ten centuries were dissolving like a dream. Chivalry was dying, the abbey and the castle were soon together to crumble into ruins, and all the forms, desires, beliefs, convictions 0£ the old world were passing away, never to return.’ Had Henry VIII. never reigned, there would have been a history of religious reform in England. The notorious divorce question did but confirm and hasten tendencies which were already at work. [Continue reading]

History of the Reformation by Thomas M. Lindsay

Thomas Lindsay’s comprehensive introduction to the European Reformation and Counter-Reformation is now available on-line for free download in PDF. These volumes are in the public domain and so can be freely copied and distributed.

Thomas Martin Lindsay [1843-1914], A History of the Reformation in Two Volumes, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1907. Hbk. pp.528+631.



Map Showing the Reformation and Counter-Reformation (1520-1580)
Map Showing the Reformation and Counter-Reformation (1520-1580)

Volume 2 has an interesting map hidden away in a pouch on the back cover. I have included images at varying resolutions on the main download page if you are interested.

Contents of Volume 1

Book 1: On the Eve of the Reformation

Chapter 1 – The Papacy
Chapter 2 – The Political Situation
Chapter 3 – The Renaisance
Chapter 4 – Social Conditions
Chapter 5 – Family and Popular Religious Life in the Decades Before the Reformation
Chapter 6 – Humanism and the Reformation

Book 2: The Reformation

Chapter 1 – Luther to the Beginning of the Controversy About Indulgences
Chapter 2 – From the Beginning of the Indulgence Controversy to the Diet of Worms
Chapter 3 – The Diet of Worms
Chaper 4 – From the Diet of Worms to the Close of the Peasant’s War
Chapter 5 – From the Diet of Speyer, 1526, to the Religious Peace of Augsburg, 1555
Chaper 6 – The Organisation of the Lutheran Churches
Chapter 7 – The Lutheran Reformation Outside Germany
Chapter 8 – The Religious Principles Inpsiring the Reformation

Contents of Volume 2

Book 3: The Reformed Churches

Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – The Reformation in Switzerland Under Zwingli
Chapter 3 – The Reformation in Geneva Under Calvin
Chapter 4 – The Reformation in France
Chapter 5 – The Reformation in the Netherlands
Chapter 6 – The Reformation in Scotland

Book 4: The Reformation in England

Chapter 1 – The Church of Henry VIII
Chapter 2 – The Reformation Under Edward VI
Chapter 3 – The Reaction Under Mary
Chapter 4 – The Settlement Under Elizabeth

Book 5: Anabaptism and Socinianism

Chapter 1 – Revival of Medieval Anti-Ecclesiastical Movements
Chapter 2 – Anabaptism
Chapter 3 – Socinianism

Book 6: The Counter-Reformation

Chapter 1 – The Necessity of a Reformation of some sort of Universally Admitted
Chapter 2 – The Spanish Conception of a Reformation
Chapter 3 – Italian Liberal Roman Catholics and Their Conception of a Reformation
Chapter 4 – Ignatius Loyola and the Company of Jesus
Chapter 5 – The Council of Trent
Chapter 6 – The Inquisition and the Index

Cranmer and the English Reformation

Thomas Cranmer [1490-1540]
Thomas Cranmer [1490-1540]
The following public domain book is now available in PDF:

Arthur D. Innes [1863-1938], Cranmer and The Reformation in England. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1900. Hbk. pp.199.

Click here to download.

Cranmer and The Reformation in England

Table of Contents

Chronological Tables

Chapter I
Prologue: Unrest
Pioneers of the Reformation – Europe in the Fifteenth Century – The New Learning – Savonarola – State of England – The Supplicacyon for the Beggers – Ecclesiastical Corruption – Its Causes – Special Conditions in England – Motive Force
for Reformation

Chapter II
Prologue: The Scholars’ Movement, 1496-1529
Colet Lectures at Oxford – The New Method – Characteristics – Erasmus at Oxford – Colet Dean of St. Paul’s – Accession of Henry VIM – Erasmus and More – The Utopia – Religion in Utopia– — Characteristics of the Scholars – The New Testament of Erasmus – The Extirpation of Heresy – Colet’s Address to Convocation – The Reformation Intended . . .

Chapter III
Prologue: The Lutheran Revolt, 1517- 1530
Luther and Erasmus – The Meaning of Luther – Luther and Tetzel – Luther and the Papal Bull – The Diet of Worms – The Edict of Worms – The Heads of the Christian States – The Peasants’ War – The Papal Elections – Political Consequences – The Diet of Spires – The Sack of Rome – The Protest of Spires – The Schnialkaldic League, and After – The Zurich
Reformers – The Augsburg Confession

Chapter IV
A Tender Conscience: 1503-1529
Henry VIII – His Marriage with Catherine of Aragon – The Dispensation – A Conscience Undisturbed – A Conscience Awakened – Views on the Nullity of the Marriage – First Steps for “Divorce” – Their Failure – The New Method

Chapter V
The King’s Instruments
Cranmer at Cambridge – The Discovery of Cranmer – The Bearing of his Theory of the Divorce – The King and the Scholar – The Training of a Primate – Thomas Cromwell – His Char-acter – Italy: the “Prince” – Cromwell the Adventurer – Cromwell and Wolsey – Cromwell and Henry

Chapter VI
The Supreme Head: 1529-1534
Aspects of Henry’s Reformation – It was not Doctrinal – Papal Supremacy – The Divorce and the Universities – Cranmer made Archbishop – Act in Restraint of Appeals – Cranmer pronounces the Divorce – Papal Condemnation thereof – Annates Act – Reformation Parliament – First Acts against Abuses – Heresy-Hunting – The Clergy under Preemunire¬ – The “Supremacy” Clause – The Supplication against the Ordinaries – The Bill of Wards – Answers of Convocation – “Submission of the Clergy” – Resignation of Thomas More – Benefit of Clergy – Effects of the Legislation – Its Character

Chapter VII
The Hand Of Cromwell: 1534-1540
Legislation of 1534 – Act of Succession – More and Fisher refuse the Oath – Further Legislation, 1534-5 – Execution of More and Fisher – Cranmer and the King’s Victims – Cromwell Vicar-General – The Monastic System – Corruption of the Monasteries – Previous Evidence – The Evidence before Parliament – The First Visitation and Suppression – The Pilgrimage of Grace – Completion of the Suppression – Tuning the Pulpits – Fall of Cromwell

Chapter VIII
Fidei Defensor: 1529-1547
Cranmer and Royal Supremacy – Freedom of Conscience – Henry’s Views on Authority – Restraint of Superstitious Practices – Translation of Scripture – Suppression of Heresy – Tyndale’s Bible – Coverdale, Matthew, and the Great Bible – Proposed Revision – The English Litany – The Ten Articles – The Bishops’ Book – The German Protestants – The Six Articles – Celibacy – The King’s Book – Discussions on the Sacraments and on Orders – The Rationale – Death and Character of Henry

Chapter IX
Affairs on the Continent: 1530-1563
The German Modus Vivendi – Henry VIII holds aloof – The Polit¬ical Riddle – Growth and Fall of the Schmalkaldic League – Demand for a General Council – Difficulty of summoning one – The Diet of Ratisbon – Council summoned at Trent – Ignatius Loyola – The Jesuit System – Calvin and Calvinism – The Position in 1547 – Maurice of Saxony – From the Peace of Augsburg to 1563

Chapter X
josiah: 1547-1549
The New Government – Gardiner in Opposition – Theories of the Eucharist – Justification – Purgatory – Celibacy – Images – The Plan of Campaign – The Homilies – The Paraphrase – The Visitation – Imprisonment of Gardiner and Bonner – Legislation of Edward’s First Year – War against Images – Suppression of Preaching – New Order of Communion – The
First Prayer-Book

Chapter XI
The Puritan Eddy: 1549-1553
Weakness of Edward’s Government – Reform and Plunder – The Western Rising – Ket’s Rising – Fall of Somerset – Swiss Influences – Ridley – Alasco – Hooper and Knox – Cranmer and the Eucharist – Aggressive Reformers – Nonconformity – “Reformatio Legum” – Second Act of Uniformity – Second Prayer– Book – The Ordinal – The Forty– Two Articles – Character of the Government – Cranmer’s Reformation

Chapter XII
Reaction and Counter-Reaction: 1553-1559
PAGE Northumberland’s Plot – Moderation of Mary – Imprisonment of Bishops – Repeal of Ecclesiastical Laws – Wyatt’s Rebellion: its Consequences – The Married Clergy – Character of Parlia¬ment – Marriage of Philip and Mary – Gardiner – Reconcilia¬tion with Rome – Character of Mary – First Year of Persecution – Who were the Persecutors ? – Bonner and Gardiner – Unique Character of the Persecution – Resulting Reaction

Chapter XIII
The Least of the Martyrs: 1529-1556
The Martyrs’ Reward – The Reproach of Cramner – Under Henry VIII. – Cranmer and the Supremacy – His Work under Edward – His Lack of Self-Reliance – His Occasional Courage – Cranmer under Attainder – The Three Bishops at Oxford – Cranmer’s Trial and Condemnation – He asks to “confer” – Submission, Degradation, and Appeal – Third and Fourth Submissions – The Recantation – The Second Recantation – The Virtue of Courage – Last Days – St Mary’s Church – The Witness

Chapter XIV
Epilogue: The Reformation in England
Results – Two Aspects of the Reformation – Sovereignty of the Temporal Power – Becket and Cranmer – Cranmer and Com¬prehension – The Clergy and the Reformation – Comprehen¬sion and Ambiguity – Elizabeth – Rival Theories – Church and Nation Commensurate – Church Endowments – Church a Divine Institution – The Laity and the Reformation: First Stages; Under Edward; Under Mary – English Protestantism