Westminster Conference 1559

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The Westminster Conference of 1559 was a religious disputation held early in the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Although the proceedings themselves were perfunctory, the outcome shaped the Elizabethan religious settlement.

Participants[edit]

The participants were nine leading Catholic churchmen, including five bishops, and nine prominent Protestant reformers of the Church of England.

Catholics:

Protestants

Accounts[edit]

From the Protestant side, Cox and Jewel gave official accounts, and John Foxe and Raphael Holinshed published on the conference based on those.[6] Other accounts, from Catholics, are by Aloisio Schivenoglia, the Count de Feria, and Nicholas Sanders;[7] Schivenoglia acted as secretary to Sir Thomas Tresham.[8]

Proceedings[edit]

The conference started on 31 March 1558/9; the disputation began, and was stopped because of disagreement on rules, and was adjourned (as it turned out, permanently), on April 3 (a Monday).[9][10][11] The timing coincided with the Easter recess of Parliament. It has been argued that the event was staged to discredit the Catholic position on reform,[12] and Patrick Collinson states that the disputation was manipulated to that end.[13] It took place in Westminster Hall.[14]

There were three articles at issue in the disputation (on the liturgical language, church authority over forms of worship, and scriptural warrant for propitiatory masses).[15] Nicholas Bacon was in the chair, with Nicholas Heath sitting by him.[16][17] John Feckenham and James Turberville sat with the bishops' side.[15]

For the Catholic side, Henry Cole began, defending the use of Latin in the liturgy.[18] Then Robert Horne replied, with a prepared statement. He put the case for English.[19] The disputation then foundered: there was a lack of agreement whether it should be oral or written, and whether Latin or English should be employed.[20] Heath, who had collaborated in Bacon in setting up the disputation, did not intervene to support the Catholic side's view on the pre-agreed conditions.[21]

Bacon in the chair was not neutral: he pushed some of the Catholic participants into offensive behaviour.[16] Of the bishops, Watson and White were sent to the Tower of London. Sir Ambrose Cave and Sir Richard Sackville were ordered to search their houses and papers.[22][23] Six more of the participants were fined by the privy council.[20]

Aftermath[edit]

William Bill preached on the reasons for the imprisonment of the two bishops on 9 April. On the following day a new bill for royal supremacy was moved.[9] The Uniformity Act of 1559 passed successfully through Parliament, but the margin in the House of Lords was a slender three votes. Edward Rishton attributed absences of Catholic bishops and laymen from the Lords to underhand tactics.[20]

When in the following year Jewel restated the position of the Church of England after the settlement, and invited refutations, Cole replied to him, starting an extended controversy.[24]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/johnfoxe/apparatus/person_glossaryO.html
  2. ^ http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/johnfoxe/main/person12_793.html
  3. ^ Wright, Jonathan. "Langdale, Alban". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16008.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Pettegree, Andrew. "Whitehead, David". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29286.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Acts and Monuments Online, Conference or Disceptation had betwixt the Protestantes and the Papistes at Westminster.
  6. ^ Holinshed Project, The peaceable and prosperous regiment of blessed Queene Elisabeth (1587, Volume 6, p. 1182).
  7. ^ G. E. Phillips, The Extinction of the Ancient Hierarchy (1905), p. 80; archive.org.
  8. ^ Edward Chaney (1990). England and the Continental Renaissance: Essays in Honor of J.B. Trapp. Boydell Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-85115-270-7. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Mary Morrissey (16 June 2011). Politics and the Paul's Cross Sermons, 1558-1642. Oxford University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-19-957176-5. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  10. ^ William P. Haugaard (1968). Elizabeth and the English Reformation: The Struggle for a Stable Settlement of Religion..... CUP Archive. pp. 102–3. GGKEY:LA9WJTAP5T9. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Charles Dodd (1839). Dodd's Church History of England from the Commencement of the Sixteenth Century to the Revolution in 1688. With Notes, Additions and a Continuation ...: Edward VI. Mary. Elizabeth. Appendix. C. Dolman. pp. 135–6 note. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Thomas M McCoog, S.J. (1996). The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England 1541-1588: Our Way of Proceeding?. BRILL. p. 43 note 4. ISBN 978-90-04-10482-2. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  13. ^ Patrick Collinson (1967). The Elizabethan Puritan Movement. Methuen. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-416-34000-6. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Patrick Collinson (2 August 2003). Godly People: Essays On English Protestantism and Puritanism (History Series, 23). Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 587. ISBN 978-0-907628-15-6. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Richard Watson Dixon, History of the Church of England: from the abolition of the Roman jurisdiction vol. 5 (1902) pp. 75–7 note; archive.org.
  16. ^ a b Tittler, Robert. "Bacon, Nicholas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1002.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  17. ^ Birt, p. 105.
  18. ^ Mayer, T. F. "Cole, Henry". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5851.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  19. ^ Houlbrooke, Ralph. "Horne, Richard". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13792.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  20. ^ a b c Leo Frank Solt (1990). Church and State in Early Modern England: 1509-1640. Oxford University Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-19-505979-3. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  21. ^ Loades, David. "Heath, Nicholas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12840.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  22. ^  "Cave, Ambrose". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  23. ^  "Sackville, Richard". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  24. ^ Thomas M McCoog, S.J.; Campion Hall (University of Oxford) (1996). The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and Early English Jesuits : Essays in Celebration of the First Centenary of Campion Hall, Oxford (1896-1996). Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-85115-590-6. Retrieved 14 November 2012.