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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century


Works of King Henry VIII

A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christen Man.
London: Thomas Berthelet, 1543.
©Royal Collection.

After Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic church, it became necessary to define the doctrine of the new, English Church. Several "Formularies of Faith" were issued under the guidance of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. A Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christen Man, or "The King's Book", was published in 1543. It is, for the most part, a rewriting of the earlier The Institution of a Christian Man (1537), or "The Bishops' Book". The preface only is thought to be by the King. — A. Jokinen.

The following excerpt is from:
Lloyd, Charles, ed. Formularies of Faith Put Forth by Authority During the Reign of Henry VIII.
Oxford: University Press, 1856. 215-219.







Henry  the  VIII.  by  the  grace  of  God  king  of
    England, France, and Ireland, defender of the
    faith,  and in  earth  of the  church of  England
    and also of Ireland supreme head, unto all his
    faithful and loving subjects, sendeth greeting.

LIKE as in the time of darkness and ignorance, finding our people seduced and drawn from the truth by hypocrisy and superstition, we by the help of God and his word have travailed to purge and cleanse our realm from the apparent enormities of the same; wherein, by opening of God's truth, with setting forth and publishing of the scriptures, our labours (thanks be to God) have not been void and frustrate: so now, perceiving that in the time of knowledge the devil (who ceaseth not in all times to vex the world) hath attempted to return again (as the parable in the gospel sheweth) into the house purged and cleansed, accompanied with seven worse spirits, and hypocrisy and superstition being excluded and put away, we find entered into some of our people's hearts an inclination to sinister understanding of scripture, presumption, arrogancy, carnal liberty, and contention; we be therefore constrained, for the reformation of them in time, and for avoiding of such diversity in opinions as by the said evil spirits might be engendered, to set forth, with the advice of our clergy, such a doctrine and declaration of the true knowledge of God and his word, with the principal articles of our religion, as whereby all men may uniformly be led and taught the true understanding of that which is necessary for every Christian man to know, for the ordering of himself in this life, agreeably to the will and pleasure of Almighty God. Which doctrine also the lords both spiritual and temporal, with the nether house of our parliament, have both seen and like very well. And for knowledge of the order of the matter in this book contained, forasmuch as we know not perfectly God but by faith, the declaration of Faith occupieth in this treatise the first place; whereunto is next adjoined the declaration The Creed, of the Articles of our Creed, containing what we should believe. And incontinently after them followeth the explication of the Seven Sacraments, wherein God ordinarily worketh, and whereby he participateth unto us his special gifts and graces in this life: which matters so digested and set forth with simplicity and plainness, as the capacities and understandings of the multitude of our people may easily receive and comprehend the same, there followeth conveniently the declaration of the Ten Commandments, being by God ordained the high way, wherein each man should walk in this life to finish fruitfully his journey here, and after to rest eternally in joy with him: which because we cannot do of ourselves, but have need always of the grace of God, as without whom we can neither continue in this life, ne without his special grace do any thing to his pleasure, whereby to attain the life to come ; we have, after declaration of the Commandments, expounded the seven petitions of our Paternoster, wherein be contained requests and suits for all things necessary to a Christian man in this present life; with declaration of the Ave Maria, as a prayer containing a joyful rehearsal, and magnifying of God in the work of the incarnation of Christ, which is the ground of our salvation, wherein the blessed virgin our lady, for the abundance of grace wherewith God endued her, is also with this remembrance honoured and worshipped. And forasmuch as the heads and senses of our people have been embusied, and in these days travailed with the understanding of freewill, justification, good works, and praying for the souls departed ; we have, by the advice of our clergy, for the purgation of erroneous doctrine, declared and set forth openly, plainly, and without ambiguity of speech, the mere and certain truth in them. So as we verily trust, that to know God, and how to live after his pleasure, to the attaining of everlasting life in the end, this book containeth a perfect and sufficient doctrine, grounded and established in holy scriptures : wherefore we heartily exhort our people of all degrees willingly and earnestly both to read and print in their hearts the doctrine of this book, considering that God (who, as St. Paul saith, distributeth and divideth to his church his graces distinctly) hath ordered some sort of men to teach other, and some to be taught, that all things should be done seemly and in order, and hath beautified and set forth by distinction of ministers and offices the same church. And considering also, that for the one part, which should teach other, is necessary, not only knowledge, but also learning and cunning in the same knowledge, whereby they may be able conveniently to dispense and distribute to their audience the truth of God, according to their cunning, for the edification of other, and by true exposition of the scriptures, according to the apostolical doctrine received and maintained from the beginning, and by conferring and declaration of them, to convince, refel, and reprove all errors and untruths set forth to the contrary; and finally be also able to give an account, as St. Peter saith, of that they profess: it must be agreed then, that for the instruction of this part of the church, whose office is to teach other, the having, reading, and studying of holy scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, is not only convenient, but also necessary: but for the other part of the church, ordained to be taught, it ought to be deemed certainly, that the reading of the Old and New Testament is not so necessary for all those folks, that of duty they ought and be bound to read it, but as the prince and the policy of the realm shall think convenient, so to be tolerated or taken from it. Consonant whereunto the politic law of our realm hath now restrained it from a great many, esteeming it sufficient for those so restrained to hear and truly bear away the doctrine of scripture taught by the preachers, and so imprint the lessons of the same, that they may observe and keep them inwardly in their heart, and as occasion serveth express them in their deeds outwardly, whereby they may be partakers of that bliss which the giver of blessedness, our Saviour Christ, spake of and promised to such, saying, Beati qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt illud: Blessed be they that hear the true doctrine of God, and keep it; which is the true sense of that text. Wherefore we exhort and desire all our loving subjects, that they, praying to God for the spirit of humility, do conform themselves, as good scholars and learners ought, to hear and bear away as afore, and willingly to observe such order as is by us and our laws prescribed, and to read and bear well away the true doctrine lately by us and our clergy set forth for their erudition; whereby presumption and arrogancy shall be withstanded, malice and contention expelled, and carnal liberty refrained and tempered, and disdain clearly removed and taken away. So as endeavouring ourselves to live quietly and charitably together, each one in his vocation, we shall be so replenished with manifold graces and gifts of God, that after this life we shall reign in joy everlasting, with the only Head of the universal catholic church, our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on April 9, 2009. Last updated on May 16, 2009.


The Tudors

The Parents of Henry VIII
King Henry VII
Elizabeth of York

The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Queen Catherine of Aragon
Queen Anne Boleyn
Queen Jane Seymour
Queen Anne of Cleves
Queen Catherine Howard
Queen Katherine Parr

The Children of Henry VIII
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond
King Edward VI
Queen Mary I
Queen Elizabeth I

The King's Advisors
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cromwell
Sir Thomas More

European Monarchs
Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland
James IV, King of Scotland
James V, King of Scotland
Mary of Guise, Queen of Scotland

Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Louis XII, King of France
Francis I, King of France

Ferdinand II, King of Aragon
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Pope Julius II
Pope Leo X
Pope Clement VII
Pope Paul III

English Nobility
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Edward Stafford, D. of Buckingham
Thomas Howard, 3rd D. of Norfolk
John Dudley, D. of Northumberland
Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford
John Russell, Earl of Bedford
Thomas, Lord Audley
Richard de la Pole
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral
Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset

Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Bishop Stephen Gardiner
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London
John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester
John Aylmer, Bishop of London
John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester
Archbishop William Warham
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester
Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford
William Tyndale
Hugh Latimer
William Grocyn
Thomas Linacre

Historical Events
The Battle of the Spurs, 1513
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
Dissolution of Monasteries, 1536-40
Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
The Siege of Boulogne, 1544
The Sweating Sickness

Tudor Legal System
Common Law
Court of Common Pleas
Court of King's Bench
Court of Star Chamber
Council of the North
Oath of Supremacy
The Act of Supremacy, 1534
The Act of Succession, 1534
The Ten Articles, 1536
The Six Articles, 1539

Royal Residences
Greenwich Palace
Hatfield House
Richmond Palace
Windsor Palace

Tudor Literature
See section
16th-century Renaissance English Literature

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