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The Heretics
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Heresy is a controversial or novel change to religion that conflicts with established thinking. People that advocate or commit heresy are known as heretics. The Roman Catholic Church had dominated Europe for a.thousand years. By the middle of the 16th century a growing number of people were complaining that the church was not help¬ing God’s people to live better lives, but helping itself to their money - over-complicated, corrupt and (above all) expensive. These protesters became known as Protestants - Catholics called them heretics.

King Henry VIII was desperate for a divorce, but the Pope refused to agree, so Henry turned his back on Rome and proclaimed himself head of the Church in England, and granted himself the divorce. Since he now had a church of his own, anyone that disagreed with him was also in defiance of God - Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher both disagreed and went to the execution block for it.

The Heretics

For the rest of Henry’s reign, modernising Protestants argued with conservative Catholics about what the English Church should now be like - and some were executed for their opinions. When Henry’s son Edward succeeded him, the new king was determined that England would be Protestant, but he had barely organised the changes that he wanted, when he died at the age of just 15.
His older sister Mary took over; she was Catholic and she was angry. Mary was the first woman to rule England, and her cruelty earned her the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.

Sir Thomas Wyatt was locked in The Clink after his failed attempt to prevent Queen Mary marrying the King of Catholic Spain, and apparently ‘made havock at Winchester Palace at which time Princess Elizabeth (the heir to the throne) greatly feared for her life... ’ Wyatt was executed, along with 90 others.

The Heretics

In 1553 John Rogers was imprisoned for two years for the crime of translating the Bible into English. On January 22 1555, along with ten other people, he was tried at Winchester Palace. He was sentenced to death by the Catholic Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner. He awaited and met death cheerfully, though he was even denied a meeting with his wife. He was burned at the stake on February 4, 1555 at Smithfield.

Gardiner conducted many savage interrogations and his treatment of Bishop Hooper was particularly vindictive. Hooper paid the keeper for the Clinks best room but he did not get it. Of his one night’s stay, he wrote, ‘They hath used me more vilely then the veriest slave. Put me in a ward, not even a bed, only a little pad of straw and a rotten covering of tick. One side the privy and all the filth of the house. The door locked and barred so none could hear my cries for help’. Hooper was later burnt alive outside Gloucester Cathedral.

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