The religion of the gentry and middling classes: the English Reformation as reflected in wills, 1509-1553
Thornton, David E.
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The purpose of this thesis is to present and analyse statistical data of the religion of the gentry and middling classes as reflected in 1997 wills between 1509 to 1553, during the reign of Henry VIII and Edward VI. In addition to this, the effect of Lollardy, the European Reformation and the attitude of the gentry and middling classes to the English Reformation along with the religious and economic policies of Henry VIII and Edward VI are analysed to provide an insight into changing religious beliefs. The sample used in this thesis was collected from 19 different counties from The National Archives, Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills in series PROB 11 to provide a comprehensive regional analysis of the changing religious beliefs and attitudes of the respective testators towards the English Reformation. This thesis argues that, from the evidence of preambles and committals, Catholic England became a Protestant one by 1553.