Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Goldwin Smith

Second Advisor

Alfred H. Kelly


Recent scholarship has devoted comparatively little attention to the popular aspects of the English Reformation, despite an increasing appreciation of the role and importance of sectarian religious groups in sixteenth century life. Much work has been done on the nature and scope of non-maglsterlal Protestantism on the continent, the so-called "Radical Reformation", but these studies have largely Ignored the presence in England of a contemporary movement to restore primitive Christianity together with an ethical religion based on Scripture. There was a deep current of what might be called "Protestant" feeling in England that had little to do with either the Henriclan Reformation or the doc­ trinal changes enacted by Somerset or Northumberland. This current had its roots in the later Middle Ages but was not without certain affinities with continental Ana­baptists and Lutheranism. Unfortunately, recent studies have largely ignored the beliefs of ordinary people des­pite the fact that an examination of available sources reveals much about the nature of this popular Protestant thought as well as the extent of its debt to medieval heretical activity and its relationship to its continental counterparts. No comprehensive account of the spread of Protestant ideas is available and this will certainly not be one. It Is an examination of some of the salient characteristics of sixteenth oentury English heresy and attempts to give some Insight into the things that ordinary people believed.