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History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland

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By William Cobbett - 370 pages PB

    William Cobbett stunned the Protestant world of 19th century England with his publication in 1824 of his groundbreaking work The History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland.

    Not only was the book deeply researched and footnoted, but it presented a historical picture that was profoundly contrary to the “official history” that had been drummed into the minds of countless Englishmen for three hundred years. In addition, the fact that it was so well written, so sympathetic to the Catholic cause, AND written by a fellow Church of England Protestant made this book an overnight bestseller running into many editions and reprints over the next thirty years.

    Theological issues are not treated directly, but the illogic of the Protestant positions is clearly seen in the practical results of the break from Rome. For those who wish an objective history of this critical period of English and American history there is no better book available. The power of Cobbett’s prose and his convincing logic and sardonic wit make for a delightful reading experience as well.

This is one of the best books ever written on the EFFECTS in both the Church and in society of the English Reformation.


Chapter I—Introduction

Chapter II—Henry VIII—The Divorce
Origin of the Catholic Church—History of the Church, in England down to the time of the “Reformation’’—Monasteries and Monks—Beginning of the Reformation by King Henry VIII

Chapter III—Henry VIII—The Royal Supremacy
Resistance to the King’s measures—Effects of abolishing the Pope’s supremacy—Death of Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher—Horrible murders of Catholics—Luther and the new religion—Burning of Catholics and Protestants at the same fire —Execrable conduct of Cranmer—The title “Defender of the Faith”

Chapter IV—Henry VIII—(continued)
Tyranny of Henry VIII—Butchery of the Countess of Salisbury—Plunder—Celibacy of the Clergy—Comments upon the Bishops of Winchester—Hume’s charges against the Monks, and Bishop Tanner’s answer

Chapter V—Henry VIII—The Dissolution of the Monasteries
Authorities relating to the effects of monastic institutions—The great utility of monasteries and the political wisdom in which they were founded—The appointment of Thomas Cromwell as royal vice-gerent—His proceedings in the work of plunder and devastation—The first Act of Parliament for the suppression of the monasteries

Chapter VI—Henry VIII—(continued)
Confiscation of the monasteries—Base and cruel means at doing this—The sacking and defacing of the country—Breaking up of the tomb of Alfred the Great—The King’s wives, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard—Death of Thomas Cromwell—Death of Henry VIII

Chapter VII—Edward VI

Edward VI—The will of Henry VIII—Perjury of the executors—The new church, “by law established”—Robbery of the churches—Insurrections of the people—Treason of Cranmer and his associates—Death of the King

Chapter VIII—Mary
Accession of Queen Mary—Her mild and benevolent laws—The nation reconciled to the Church—The Queen’s great generosity and piety—Mary’s marriage with Philip II of Spain—The laws and conduct against heretics—Fox’s “Martyrs”

Chapter IX—Mary and Elizabeth
Mary at war with France—Capture of Calais by the French—Death of Queen Mary—Remarks on her acts—Queen Elizabeth—A reason for her being Protestant—Her cruel and bloody laws relative to religion—Her perfidy towards France—The disgrace she brought upon her government and her country by this perfidy—Her base and perpetual surrender of Calais

Chapter X—Elizabeth—(continued)
The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew—A tail-piece to it: the projected marriage of Elizabeth with the Duke of Anjou —Elizabeth’s favorites and ministers: Leicester, Cecil, Walsingham, Paulet—History and murder of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland

Chapter XI—Elizabeth—(continued)
Hypocrisy of Elizabeth on the death of Mary Stuart—The Spanish Armada—Elizabeth’s poor-laws and her barbarous treatment of Ireland—Elizabeth’s “Inquisition”—Terrible persecution of the Catholics—Racks and tortures employed by the Queen’s agents—The Queen’s death

Chapter XII—The Stuarts
Accession of James I—Continued persecution of Catholics—The Gunpowder Plot—A contrast between this and Protestant plots—Charles I, his accession; the Puritan revolt; his “Martyrdom”—Oliver Cromwell’s accession to power—The Second or “thorough godly” Reformation—The Restoration of Charles II—Various plots ascribed to Catholics—Ingratitude of the King towards them—Reign of James II—His endeavors to introduce general toleration—His imprudence—William of Orange invited over to bring in the “glorious” Revolution

Chapter XIII—The Charges against James II, and their Refutation
The Third Reformation, the “glorious” Revolution—The Revolution bore hard on the Catholics—Charges preferred by Parliament against James II—Comments upon these charges and the refutation of them—Remarks upon Sidney, Russell, and other Protestant patriots—The Habeas Corpus Act passed in the reign of James II—The Settlement of the American Colonies

Chapter XIV—Results of the Reformation
Triumph of William III in England and Ireland—The War with France a “no popery” war—The war led to the great increase of taxation—Hence the origin of the National Debt, of Banks and Stock-jobbing, and of the Excise—Strictures on Bishop Burnet—The Septennial Bill due, as its preamble says, to a “restless and popish faction”—Taxation lead to the American Revolution—Charges preferred by the Americans against George III

Chapter XV—Results of the Reformation—(continued)
The American Revolution the first cause of Catholic relief—Enumeration of the penal laws against Catholics, and remarks thereon —The first relaxation due to fear—The French Revolution was Reformation pushed to the fullest extent—The second relaxation due to fear—The Penal Code in 1826—Results of the “Reformation’’ on religion

Chapter XVI—Impoverishment and Degradation of the People by the Reformation
Former population, wealth, power, freedom, and happiness of England—Comparison with modern times—The progress of pauperism—Conclusion—Motives for writing the book


William Cobbett
370 pages PB

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