What if the break with Rome was prevented?

Feb 2007
Yes, Knox was instrumental in Scotland. In England, I'm not so sure. That is something I will check out. I will say that one of Knox's colleagues, Martin Bucer was in England and did aid in the Puritan movement. Again, the time frame is just as you said...it's anyone's guess. However, there are reasons why the Church of England would want to have separated from Rome:

1. I'm not sure if this issue was ever resolved by the 16th century, but I do know that several Kings of England were looking to stop papal taxation. They wanted the money that went into their church coffers to remain in England. In fact, that is the major reason why the crown looked to John Wyclif in the late 14th century. He was endorsed by Edward III and became a part of a diplomatic entourage sent to Bruges by John of Gaunt to negotiate this very issue. Of course, when the Lancastrian Revolution took place in 1399, its a pretty safe bet that this issue became "dead in the water" and normal taxation resumed. If this were the case, this is one major reason. In fact, if we look back at one of Henry VIII's first acts, he stripped the monasteries in 1534.

2. The appointment of bishops and archbishops were still being debated between the English crown and the Pope. Now, the issue may not have been as serious and strenuous as in the previous centuries, but the fact that Rome was able to meddle in what was considered English affairs really ticked off the English crown for centuries. In fact, this goes to the very heart of the annulment issue...what authority does the papacy have over the king? The continuous meddling in English affairs, whether it would be taxation, appointment of clergymen, or authority issues, became a strong reason for separation.
OK. With respect to John Knox, I did say British Isles, not England, and Scotlandis a part of the British Isles, as are England, Wales, and Ireland. As for whether John Knox himself ever made it to England, I know not, but certainly some of his followers must've. After all, by the end of the Reformation era (generally taken to be ca. 1650), there were Puritans/Pilgrims settling in Massachusetts (1621, 1630) and a goodly number of Puritans serving in Cromwell's army in the Civil War (1642-1649).

1. Of course, the issue of papal taxation reeks with the kings of Europe of the time. But Henry VIII has another problem: his father, Henry VII, who had a reputation for being a bit of a "skin-flint," left very large amounts of money in the royal treasury at his death, and Henry VIII, being young and dumb, went through his late father's surplus in no time at all; hence, stripping the monasteries seemed as good a way as any to replenish the royal treasury.

2. Ah! I hadn't realized that that was still a problem in England in 1534. Germany had solved their problems with the Investiture Controversy sometime around 1073 when Henry IV of Germany/the Holy Roman Empire had to go to Canossa to beg the forgiveness of the Pope. I think (but don't quote me on this --- Professor Boyd H. Hill, Jr.'s Mediaeval Intellectual History class was 21 years ago) that Germany's solution to the Investiture Controversy was to let the King nominate the new bishop and then let the Pope decide whether or not to anoint (and invest) the king's nominee. Something like that, anyway ... both Pope and King ended up with some authority in choosing new bishops. Now, what authority does the Pope have over the King? Well, the Pope has spiritual authority over all Catholics, but the big question is: does the Pope have any political authority over the King? Well, normally, I'd say none, but, unfortunately for Henry VIII, one of his distant ancestors, John Lackland, had made himself a vassal of the Pope after his own vassals had defeated him at Runnymede (sp?) and forced him to sign Magna Carta.


Forum Staff
Aug 2006
I just looked at the investiture controversy to refresh my memory. I do remember that the king had the right to put in his own bishops within the German Empire. From what I understand, the English controversy was short lived and it seemed to be situated in the 12th century. So my assessment could not have been correct. On the other hand, the point that I was making was that papal interference became a factor in separation. Regardless of the English position in the 16th century, they still had to answer to Rome...that is why there was a problem to begin with. This is why I think Henry, although it was a spiritual matter (annulment), believed it to be more of a political matter. This is why, in my opinion, the English Reformation was different than the other movements because it was more politically motivated.