CHAPTER IV. THE PROGRESS OF NATIONALISM
The Catholic church naturally resisted its disintegration, and the severance was effected by the secular arms of parliament and the crown. The nationalism of the English church was the result rather than the cause of the breach with Rome, and its national characteristics - supreme governance by the king, the disappearance of cosmopolitan religious orders, the parliamentary authorization of services in the vernacular, of English books of Common Prayer, of English versions of the Bible, and of the Thirty-nine Articles - were all imposed by parliament after, and not adopted by the church before, the separation. There were, indeed, no legal means by which the church in England could have accomplished these things for itself; there were the convocations of Canterbury and York, but these were two subordinate provinces of the Catholic church; and, whatever may be said for provincial autonomy in the medieval church, the only marks of national autonomy were stamped upon it by the state. York was more independent of Canterbury than Canterbury was of Rome; and the unity as well as the independence of the national church depends upon the common subjection of both its provinces to the crown. This predominance of state over church was a consequence of its nationalization; for where the boundaries of the two coincide, the state generally has the upper hand. The papacy was only made possible by the fall of the Western Empire; in the Eastern Empire the state, so long as it survived, controlled the church; and the independence of the medieval church was due to its catholicity, while the state at best was only national. It was in defence of the catholicity, as opposed to the nationalism, of the church that More and Fisher went to the scaffold in 1535, and nearly the whole bench of bishops was deprived in 1559. Henry VIII and Elizabeth were bent on destroying the medieval discord between the Catholic church and the national state. Catholicity had broken down in the state with the decline of the empire, and was fast breaking down in the church; nationalism had triumphed in the state, and was now to triumph in the church.
In this respect the Reformation was the greatest achievement of the national state, which emerged from the struggle with no rival for its omnicompetent authority. Its despotism was the predominant characteristic of the century, for the national state successfully rid itself of the checks imposed, on the one hand by the Catholic church, and on the other by the feudal franchises. But the supremacy was not exclusively royal; parliament was the partner and accomplice of the crown. It was the weapon which the Tudors employed to pass Acts of Attainder against feudal magnates and Acts of Supremacy against the church; and men complained that despotic authority had merely been transferred from the pope to the king, and infallibility from the church to parliament. "Parliament," wrote an Elizabethan statesman, "establisheth forms of religion...."
But while Englishmen on the whole were pretty well agreed that foreign jurisdiction was to be eliminated, and that Englishmen were to be organized in one body, secular and spiritual, which might be called indifferently a state-church or a church-state, there was much more difference of opinion with regard to its theological complexion. It might be Catholic or it might be Protestant in doctrine; and it was far more difficult to solve this religious problem than to effect the severance from Rome. There were, indeed, many currents in the stream, some of them cross-currents, some political, some religious, but all mingling imperceptibly with one another. The revolt of the nation against a foreign authority is the most easily distinguished of these tendencies; another is the revolt of the laity against the clerical specialist. The church, it must be remembered, was often regarded as consisting not of the whole body of the faithful, but simply of the clergy, who continued to claim a monopoly of its privileges after they had ceased to enjoy a monopoly of its intelligence and virtue. The Renaissance had been a new birth of secular learning, not a revival of clerical learning. Others besides the clergy could now read and write and understand; town chronicles took the place of monastic chronicles, secular poets of divines; and a middle class that was growing in wealth and intelligence grew also as impatient of clerical as it had done of military specialists. The essential feature of the reformed services was that they were compiled in the common tongue and not in the Latin of ecclesiastical experts, that a Book of Common Prayer was used, that congregational psalm-singing replaced the sacerdotal solo, and a communion was substituted for a priestly miracle. Religious service was to be something rendered by the people themselves, and not performed for their benefit by the priest.