CHAPTER II. THE RELIGIOUS CHANGES UNDER HENRY VIII. AND EDWARD VI.
Cranmer and his foreign assistants were filled with alarm for the future of their cause. They feared that the new administration would be controlled by Wriothesley, ex-Chancellor, the Arundels, Southwell and other prominent Catholics, that Gardiner and Bonner might be released from imprisonment, and that the demands of many of the insurgents for the abolition of the Book of Common Prayer and the restoration of the Mass might be conceded. The Catholic party were filled with new hope; in Oxford and throughout the country the old missals and vestments that had been hidden away were brought forth again, and the offices and Mass were sung as they had been for centuries. But Warwick soon showed that the change of rulers meant no change in the religious policy of the government. Gardiner and Bonner were still kept in confinement; Wriothesley was dismissed from the council; many of the other Catholic noblemen were imprisoned, and Somerset who was supposed to have fallen a victim to the hatred of the Catholics was released from his prison and re-admitted to the privy council (1550). By the inglorious war with France and by the still more inglorious peace of Boulogne the government felt itself free to devote its energies to the religious situation at home. Warwick went over completely to the camp of the reforming party and determined in consultation with them to push forward the anti-Catholic campaign.
The Parliament that assembled in November 1549 was distinctly radical in its tendencies. In the House of Lords the bishops complained that their authority had been destroyed, and that their orders were set at naught. In reply they were requested to formulate a proposal for redress, but on such a proposal having been submitted, their demands were regarded by the laymen as exorbitant. A commission was appointed against the wishes of a strong minority of the bishops to draw up a new Ordinal as a complement to the Book of Common Prayer. The committee was appointed on the 2nd February 1550, and it appears to have finished its work within a week. In the new Ordinal (1550) the ceremonies for the conferring of tonsure, minor orders, and sub- deaconship were omitted entirely, while the ordination rites for deacons, priests, and bishops were considerably modified. Just as the sacrificial character of the Mass had been dropped out of the Book of Common Prayer, so too the notion of a real priesthood disappeared from the forms for ordination. In spite of the opposition of a large body of the bishops, an Act was passed ordering the destruction of all missals, antiphonals, processionals, manuals, ordinals, etc., used formerly in the service of the Church and not approved of by the king's majesty, as well as for the removal of all images "except any image or picture set or graven upon any tomb in any church, chapel or churchyard only for a monument of any king, prince, nobleman or other dead person who had not been commonly reputed and taken for a saint." As a result of this measure a wholesale destruction of valuable books and manuscripts took place in the king's own library at Westminster and throughout the country. The royal visitors, entrusted with the difficult work of Protestantising Oxford, acting under the guidance of Dr. Cox, chancellor of the University or "cancellor" as he was called, ransacked the college libraries, tore up and burned priceless manuscripts or sold them as waste paper, and even went so far as to demand the destruction of the chapel windows, lest these beautiful specimens of art might encourage loyalty to the old religion that had inspired their artists and donors.
As it had been determined to abandon completely the religious conservatism of the former reign it was felt absolutely necessary to remove the Catholic-minded bishops, to make way for men of the new school on whom the government could rely with confidence. Gardiner of Winchester and Bonner of London were already in prison. Heath of Worcester, who had refused to agree to the new Ordinal, was arrested in March 1550, as was also Day of Chichester in October. Tunstall of Durham, whose conservative views were well known to all, was placed under surveillance in May 1551, and thrown into prison together with his dean in the following November. In a short time a sentence of deprivation was issued against Bonner, Heath, Day and Gardiner. Bishop Thirlby of Westminster, who had given great offence by his uncompromising attitude regarding the Blessed Eucharist, was removed from Westminster, where his presence was highly inconvenient, to Norwich, and the aged Bishop Voysey was forced to resign the See of Exeter to make way for a more reliable and more active man. At the same time steps were taken in the universities to drive out the men whose influence might be used against the government's plans. The Sees of Westminster and London were combined and handed over to Ridley of Rochester, one of Cranmer's ablest and most advanced lieutenants. Hooper, who looked to Zwingli as his religious guide, was appointed to Gloucester; but as he objected to the episcopal oath, and episcopal vestments, and as he insisted on his rights of private judgment so far as to write publicly against those things that had been sanctioned by the supreme head of the Church, it was necessary to imprison him before he could be reduced to a proper frame of mind for the imposition of Cranmer's hands (March 1551). Ponet was appointed to Rochester, and on the deprivation of Gardiner, to Winchester, where his scandalous and public connexion with the wife of a Nottingham burgher was not calculated to influence the longing of his flock for the new teaching. Scory was appointed to Rochester and afterwards to Chichester, and Miles Coverdale to Oxford.