The Protestant Reformation in Ireland 1541


Map Code: Ax01930

Henry VIII extended the policies of the English Reformation to Ireland, but less profitably to the Crown. His ‘amiable persuasions’ included bribing the feudal nobles to swear allegiance to him with grants of confiscated monastic land. Edward VI (r. 1547–53) continued his father’s programme, but it stalled with the accession of the Catholic Queen Mary, only to resume under Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603). Elizabeth imposed an Irish Act of Uniformity (1560), which made worship at the Anglican Church of Ireland compulsory. An Oath of Supremacy, acknowledging the English monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England was demanded of all clerical and government officials in Ireland. Despite these measures, only officials and the plantation settlers were preponderantly Protestant. The ‘Old English’ nobility were mainly ‘recusant’, not ostentatiously Catholic, but not partaking in Anglican services; the Gaelic peasantry were overwhelmingly Catholic and immune to the ‘grass-roots’ Protestant movements of mainland Britain.

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