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Introduction of Christianity in England. The English Church

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Celtic people believed their gods lived in natural places – in forests, on hilltops or by water. Their priests, druids, made human and animal sacrifices to the gods. They had long white beards, wore white linen robes, were able to cure people and foretell the future. The Celts believed in another life after death.

Christianity was introduced into England by the Romans in the 3rd c. After the arrival of pagan Anglo-Saxons it almost died out in England. Christian Britons fled to Ireland and Wales where the Celtic Church developed separately from Rome.

In 597 the Pope, Gregory I, sent a mission to England in order to spread Christianity among the Germanic conquerors and to include England into the sphere of his political influence. First it was introduced in Kent. But Christianity also penetrated from Ireland. The Irish monks had greatly influence in Northumbria. In the 7th c. Christianity spread all over England. The country was under the influence of the Roman Church.

In the Middle Ages religion played an imported part in daily life. The Pope, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, dictated doctrine and organization, appointed church officials, and claimed spiritual power over all political leaders. This often led to tension between Church and State.

From the 14th c. there was increasing criticism of some of the Church’s teachings. This was condemned by the Church as “heresy”. Heretics, who refused to change their beliefs, and witches were burned alive.

Henry Tudor (Henry VII, the 1st Tudor King after the War of the Roses) married his eldest son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess. When Arthur died Catherine married his brother Henry, later Henry VIII (1509 – 1547). He needed a son. He wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Ann Boleyn.

Royal marriages could sometimes be ended for political reasons, but only with Pope’s consent. However, the Pope refused to grant the divorce. To get what he wanted Henry decided to take control of the Church in England. He married Ann in 1533 and their daughter Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) was born in 1534. And in this year Parliament passed the Act which declared Henry the Supreme Head of the English Church. Henry VIII had six wives.

The Pope expelled Henry from the Roman Catholic Church for heresy. In mainland Europe reformers, known as Protestants, were rejecting many of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. However, although Henry denied the Pope’s authority, he did not accept Protestant doctrines.

Between 1536 and 1539 Henry closed all the monasteries, most of them were sold, many were ruined, on the pretext, they were corrupt and not economically viable. This is known as the dissolution of the monasteries.

During the reigns of the first 2 Stuart kings (James I and his son Charles I): Parliament dominated by groups of extreme Protestants known as Puritans. Oliver Cromwell had the support of Scotland by promising to establish Presbyterian (a form of Protestantism, the official church of Scotland) in England, Wales and Ireland. Presbiterianism is a form of Protestantism based on the ideas of John Calving, a 16th c. Church reformer. There are no compulsory rites, rituals or other forms of worship.

Religions of London. The religions practiced in London are as varied as the ethnic composition of its population:

the Church of England (the established Church, the Monarch is the temporal “head”);

the Church of Scotland (a Presbyterian Church).

London is the seat of an Anglican bishop and a Roman Catholic archibishop. In addition, there are churches for Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, synagogues for Jews, mosques for Muslims (mostly Arabs and Pakistans), and a variety of churches, temples, meeting-places for other religions and denominations.


Answer the questions:


1. What did Celts believe in? How were their priests called?

2. Who introduced Christianity into England?

3. When did the English Church appear and what influenced on this fact?

4. What churches are there in London?



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