English Reformation Parliament

English Reformation Parliament

The English Reformation Parliament was so-called because it was the Parliament, commencing in 1529, that passed and enabled the major pieces of legislation leading to the English Reformation. The names of these acts (and others) may be found at the List of Acts of Parliament of the English Parliament to 1600.

After the failure of Thomas Wolsey to win the Blackfriars tribunal, Henry VIII of England began to get frustrated. He was left without a male heir and his wife was past child-bearing age. In 1529, Henry opened what would become known as the "Reformation Parliament". It opened in the month of October and ran until December without actually having a coherent plan on what to do. Because of this, Henry used it to discredit Thomas Wolsey. Soon after this Henry turned his attentions on the church.


The major pieces of legislation from the Reformation Parliament included:

1529 Clergy legal privilege removed

An Act passed to prevent the Clergy being subject to separate canonical courts. Instead they were now to be tried under the same circumstances as a commoner.

1530 Praemunire charges reinstated

The Parliament accepted the reinstatement of the charge named Praemunire where individuals could be convicted of a crime for appealing to any power outside of the realm for resolution of a situation within England. In particular, the law was aimed at those recognising the Pope's authority. The law gave leave that charges could be dropped if fines of £118,000 were paid.

1532 Rome deprived of a portion of Annates normally remitted

First Act of Annates (the Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates) is passed allowing only 5% of money normally remitted to Rome. Annates were monies (church taxes effectively) that were collected in England and sent to Rome. They were levied on any diocese by Rome as payment in return for the nomination and Papal authorization for the consecration of a Bishop. One third of the first year's revenues from the particular diocese went to Rome. The king passed legislation threatening to deprive the pope of these revenues. During this year even more intensive work was done to try to get Pope Clement to agree to the divorce Henry required. The Parliament threatened that if Henry did not get his annulment/divorce within a year, that all payments to Rome would be stopped. The anti-clerical Act titled Supplication Against the Ordinaries was also passed.

1533 All appeals to Rome, religious or otherwise forbidden

Annates threat carried out but not yet legalised by Parliament. Cromwells Act in Restraint of Appeals was passed, preparing the way for further praemunire charges against leading Catholic clergy and nobles who disagreed with the King's wish to divorce.

1534 Act of Supremacy; Annates reserved to the English Crown

Second Act of Annates passed, called the Act in Absolute Restraint of Annates. The annates were, along with the supremacy over the church in England, reserved to the crown, and the British crown now took all revenue charged for the appointment of bishops. The Act of First Fruits and Tenths transferred the taxes on ecclesiastical income from the Pope to the Crown. The Peter's Pence Act outlawed landowners paying one penny to the Pope. The Treasons Act 1534 made it high treason punishable by death to deny Royal Supremacy. The first Act of Supremacy (among other things) began the process by which the dissolution of monasteries was to be undertaken throughout the British realm. It was consolidated by the second Act of Supremacy in 1559.

1536 Papal authority outlawed



ee also

*Scottish Reformation Parliament, commencing 1560

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