To 400: The Roman era
44 Roman conquest of Britain. Christianity arrives around this time. Glastonbury is inhabited during these years, and old tradition remembers Christians here.
50 Council of Jerusalem. Christianity is a separate religion, not a sect within Judaism.
64 (Italy) Nero’s persecution of the church. Peter and Paul executed. Christianity is made illegal.
209 (Probable date) Execution of Alban, the first English martyr. Alban is a Roman soldier who offered shelter to a Christian missionary from Gaul. The place of his martyrdom later becomes St. Alban’s.
312 (Italy) Constantine. Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire. Britons are largely Christianized.
314 Council of Arles. Britain sends three bishops, a priest, and a deacon.
325 Council of Nicea, probably attended by British. The Nicene creed and the council’s decisions are accepted in Britain.
360 Julian the Apostate, Roman emperor, attempts to reinstitute paganism. This is openly flouted in Britain. The Mildenhall treasure is buried; it includes three spoons with the Chi-Rho monogram.
370+ Pagan Anglo-Saxons from Germany and Scandinavia begin to occupy Britain without resistance from the passive Britons. (Wales remains unconquered and Christian.) Anglo-Saxon culture characterized by pessimism and an emphasis on courage and hard work.
407 No Roman coins after this date have been found in Britain. The Britons are on their own.
410 The conquest of Britain is greatly accelerated when Britons under Vortigern invite Saxon mercenaries to occupy their country to keep order.
400-600 Era of Celtic monk-missionaries
Monasteries are the principal cultural centers for tribes of Celts.
400 Ninian, Roman-trained bishop of Galloway and friend (maybe) of Martin of Tours, is successfully evangelizing the Picts (“the painted people”). Mungo of Glasgow is evangelizing in Scotland.
431 Deacon Palladius sent by the bishop of Rome as a “bishop to the Scotti [Irish] who believe in Christ.”
432 Patrick, a Briton from a clerical family and himself an escaped Irish slave, returns to Ireland as bishop. Patrick organizes, evangelizes, helps the poor, confronts the druid sorcerers, and earns both respect and political power.
500 First Celtic monastery founded in Tintagel.
530 (Italy) Benedict founds Monte Cassino, where he and his friends can live together and say the Daily Office regularly. Benedict’s rule will be the model for most future monasticism.
530 David, water-drinking bishop in Wales, popularizes Christianity there.
550 Plague year. Gildas, quoting the Old Testament, sees this as God’s anger against a decadent, corrupt society, and turns monasticism into a mass movement. (Unlike Patrick, Gildas wields no political clout.)
562 Columba, an Irishman, popularizes Christianity in Scotland. (He blesses Loch Ness to rid it of its monster.) The congregations founded by Mungo and Columba will ultimate become the Scottish Presbyterian churches.
590 Columbanus of Ireland, who has introduced Benedict’s way of life to Ireland, undertakes his highly successful mission to the Continent.
410 Pelagius, British Christian thinker, emphasizes freedom and man’s natural capacity to cooperate with God’s grace. He chooses to settle in St. Augustine’s neighborhood. His liberal heresy becomes very popular in Britain.
429 Bishops Germanus and Lupus sent from Gaul to Britain to preach against Pelagianism. According to legend, Germanus baptizes most of the British army one Easter; their cries of “Alleluia” rout the enemy.
444 Leo the Great, bishop of Rome, changes the method of determining the date of Easter so that Good Friday will not fall on a Roman sports day. Britain conforms immediately.
457 Victorius of Aquitaine introduces yet another method of dating Easter which is accepted in Rome and Gaul but for some reason not in Britain. This effectively cuts the British church off from the Continent.
500 Britons win a victory at Badon Hill under one Artorus. “Arthur” later becomes the model of a Christian king.
600-670: Christians gain effective control of Britain
590 Gregory I (“the Great”), a Benedictine monk, elected bishop of Rome.
596 Gregory decides to send a mission to Britain, after punning on “Angles” and “angels”, “Deira” (York) and “de ira” (God’s wrath), and so forth.
597 Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury, another Benedictine, arrives in Kent. He baptizes King Æthelbert (who already has a Christian wife). Gregory authorizes Augustine to develop liturgy and other practices especially for the English-speaking people, thus beginning the Anglican church tradition.
616 Irate pagans pursue Mellitus, bishop of London, and Justus, bishop of Rochester, to Canterbury. King Æadbald is so impressed by the courage of Lawrence, archbishop of Canterbury, that he becomes a Christian.
627 Paulinus, first bishop of York, converts King Edwin of Northumbria.
632 Aidan, bishop of Lindisfarne (“the holy island”), begins missionary work in Northumbria, battling pagan sorcery.
651 Cuthbert, shepherd-monk, becomes prior of Melrose Abbey (later bishop of Lindisfarne, still later hermit and preacher to seals and gulls.)
663 Synod of Whitby, at Hilda’s mixed-sexes monastery. The English church will conform to Roman rather than Celtic practices. (This begins the period of Roman authority.)
668 Theodore of Tarsus, an elderly Syrian, ordained archbishop of Canterbury, establishes boundaries of dioceses. England is now a Christian nation, and paganism has been driven underground (as witchcraft).
670 Wilfrid of Ripon, a high-churchman famous for his brilliant oratory at Whitby, goes to Rome to be ordained bishop of York.
672 Wilfrid assumes office with much pomp. (Humble Chad, who had been bishop of York, is moved to Lichfield; Theodore forces him to ride a horse rather than walking about his new diocese.)
678 Wilfrid has alienated everyone and loses control of York. He spends the rest of his life travelling as an outstanding missionary and church-builder.
670-1340: The Medieval period
The Anglican church is essentially independent of foreign bishops, and remains heavily involved in foreign missionary work.
670 Caedmon, shepherd and first British poet, is singing the glories of God’s creation at Whitby.
690 Willibrord, an Englishman, begins the English mission to the Netherlands. (Became Archbishop of Utrecht, 695). Forged ties between churches of England and Utrecht that remain to this day.
716 Boniface (Wynfrid), an Englishman, begins his career as missionary. He is the most effective evangelist in Germany.
731 Bede (“the Venerable”), historian and doctor of the church, completes his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Incidentally, this is the work that popularized the Anno Domini system for dating events.
750 “Beowulf” and “Dream of the Rood”. Both poems display the Anglo-Saxon theme of gaining permanent respect by accepting a lonely defeat.
755 Boniface is martyred by outraged pagans. (He is stabbed through his prayer-book).
790 King Offa of Mercia founds St. Alban’s Abbey (as penance for murdering St. Ethelbert).
793 Vikings sack Lindisfarne.
796 Alcuin, English deacon and agent of Charlemagne, becomes Abbot of Tours. Alcuin introduces Collect for Purity and the organized copying of manuscripts.
800 (Rome) Charlemagne sets precedents as Christian king.
826 Anskar, an Englishman, launches mission to Denmark. (Scandinavia is never effectively Christianized.)
871 Alfred the Great, warrior-scholar, becomes king of “West Saxons” and proceeds to unite the English people.
878 Alfred is godfather to Guthrum, the Danish (Viking) general. The Vikings are allowed to settle in England.
890 Formosus, bishop of Rome, writes irate letter to the English bishops for not trying harder to Christianize the Vikings.
960 Dunstan, metal-working saint, becomes archbishop of Canterbury
973 Dunstan crowns King Edgar (“of all England”) at Bath, preaching at length on the idea of the Christian king.
964 King Ethelwald storms Winchester Cathedral and requires the lax clergy there to become Benedictine monks. Very soon, the cathedrals are Benedictine operations.
1012 Alphege, archbishop of Canterbury, is “martyred” at Greenwich by the Vikings. (They are holding him hostage but like him. So Alphege tries to preach while they are partying….)
1014 One Wulfstan (the saint) repeats Gildas’s condemnation of his countrymen in a famous sermon at York.
1060 King Edward the Confessor dies. (His reputation as a saint is promoted for political reasons by William the Conqueror.)
1062 Another Wulfstan (the bishop) made bishop of Worcester. He is an effective opponent of slavery.
1066 Norman conquest. William the Conqueror becomes king. In the next few months, most of the important churches in England “accidentally” burn down.
1070 Lanfranc, an Italian lawyer, becomes William’s formidable archbishop of Canterbury. Lanfranc rebuilds Canterbury Cathedral and establishes the primacy of the see of Canterbury, but fails to enforce clerical celibacy.
1080 William, in a letter, reminds the bishop of Rome that the king of England owes him no allegiance.
1090 “Anonymous” in Rouen writes a long dissertation on the divine right of kings, arguing that the bishop of Rome has no authority over kings.
1070 Margaret, an English princess, marries Malcolm and becomes Queen of Scotland. She leads a revival of piety in Scotland. (Malcolm appears in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.)
1154 Nicholas Breakspear becomes the only English bishop of Rome (Adrian IV).
1093 Anselm becomes archbishop of Canterbury. This pleasant, otherworldly saint develops the ontological argument, thus proving the existence of God (at least to his own satisfaction).
1161 Thomas Becket, Henry II’s low-born, clean-living best friend, becomes archbishop of Canterbury. Becket’s subsequent behavior is unexpected.
1171 Becket “martyred” in Canterbury cathedral by four knights. He is soon regarded as a saint and miracle-worker.
1186 Hugh becomes bishop of Lincoln, resists King Richard I.
1205 The bishop of Rome appoints Stephen Langton archbishop of Canterbury. King John will not allow him to enter England. (Langton is the man who made today’s division of the books of the Bible into chapters.)
1208 The bishop of Rome places England under an interdict.
1212 King John resigns his kingship to the bishop of Rome and receives it back as a holding from the Roman legate. This ends the interdict. A few years later, Parliament declares John resigned his crown illegally. The English do notice that the four-year interdict did not really cause anything bad to happen to them….
1215 King John is forced to sign the Magna Carta.
1210 (Italy) John “Francesco” (Frenchy) Bernadone, an Italian, gets the bishop of Rome’s support for his group of teenaged “little brothers”, who become the First Order Franciscans. They function much as Wesley’s circuit-riders will during the Great Awakening. The Dominicans, or “Friars Preachers”, are doing the same thing in France.
1212 Francis and his friend, Claire, found the Second Order Franciscans, cloistered nuns.
1221 Dominicans reach England.
1221 Third Order Franciscans founded for laymen who would have become friars but had a family or career. (All three orders of Franciscans are active today in the Anglican communion.)
1224 First-order Franciscans reach England. Since the regular clergy seldom or never preaches, the friars are important in promoting the building and life of local churches.
1220 Salisbury Cathedral begun. The order of service here will be the model for Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer.
1235 Robert Grosseteste, poor boy, scholar, and scientist, becomes bishop of Lincoln. (Never canonized, but name repeated by the bird’s call: “Bob-o’-Linc”.)
1244 Richard elected bishop of Crichester. This is opposed by King Henry III, who locks him out of the episcopal house.
1269 Rebuilding of Westminster Abbey begun by Henry III.
1255 Roger Bacon, inventor of the telescope, microscope, and thermometer, becomes a Franciscan.
1324 William of Ockham, an English Franciscan friar, defends his philosophy at the bishop of Rome’s court (in Avignon). His views will develop into “nominalism” and dominate European thought until the Reformation.
1340-1400: The Middle Ages continue
Age of English mystics and writers,
1343 Richard Rolle, hermit and mystical writer, writes “The Fire of Love”. (“I cannot tell you how surprised I was the first time I felt my heart begin to warm.”) Anonymous author of “The Cloud of Unknowing” is a contemporary.
1348 Black plague year.
1372 Dame Julian of Norwich has a series of mystical experiences; writes of them in “Revelations of Divine Love”. (“And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”)
1375 “Gawain” poet at work.
1386 Geoffrey Chaucer begins the “Canterbury Tales”.
1390 William Langland, an evangelical, completes “Piers Plowman”.
1396 Walter Hilton, Augustinian mystic and author of “The Ladder of Perfection”, dies.
1436 Margery Kempe, eccentric visionary, dictates her autobiography.
1381 John Wyclif, an Oxford theologian, publishes his “Confession”, denying that the “substance” of bread and wine are miraculously annihilated during the Eucharist. (Wyclif is appealing to the Bible over the heads of the clergy. He is forced to retire by his colleagues, mostly because they are worried by this year’s peasant revolt.)
1401 Persecution of Lollards (Dutch word for “babblers”). They are mostly working men, revolting against clergy. Their leaders read Wyclif’s translation of the Bible.
1414 Sir John Oldcastle leads a rebellion of Lollards, who fail to capture London. This and similar incidents polarize the nation and effectively prevent reform for the next century.
1405 Henry IV executes Richard Scrope, rebellious archbishop of York. Popular response is mixed.
1415 Henry V campaigns in France. The English are later driven out by Joan of Arc.
1427 Cardinal Henry Beaufort arrests the bishop of Rome’s tax collector, does not get into serious problems for doing so.
1445 Personal rule of saintly but schizophrenic Henry VI begins. (“O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst create me, redeem me, and foreordain me unto that which now I am; thou knowest what thou wilt do with me; deal with me according to thy most compassionate will.”)
1485 Period of civil war (“Wars of the Roses”) ends with victory of Henry VII (first Tudor king).
1499 Erasmus visits England for the first time. He will be the central figure in the revival of humanism. (Erasmus made today’s division of the Bible into verses, and also discredited the “Donation of Constantine”, a document which allegedly bestowed most of Europe on the bishop of Rome.)
1518 Thomas Wolsey, bishop of York, is made cardinal. He is possessed of great abilities, but he is proud, corrupt, and not celibate.
1529 Henry VIII finds out about Wolsey’s wheeling and dealing and fires him. (“Had I but served my God as diligently as I have done the king, He would not have given me over in my gray hairs.”) After his fall, he visits his diocese for the first time.
1517-1564: The Reformation
The church is in terrible shape, and everyone agrees change is necessary. Lutherans rediscover justification by faith and personal relationship with Christ. They popularize the Bible, and retain most of the traditions of the church (though not scholasticism, allegory, or the historic episcopate). Calvinists (Presbyterians, Puritans, Reformed, Congregationalists, etc., also Zwinglians) reject everything not expressly commanded in the Bible. Anabaptists (Baptists, charismatics, etc.) deny there has been any continuity in the historic Church. Humanists (liberals, Unitarians) introduce scientific study of old documents and traditions and emphasize the ethical teachings of Jesus. Roman Catholics rediscover scripture, tradition, reason, and mystical experience in their own counter-reformation. Ultimately, we Anglicans are influenced about equally by all five movements. The history of the English reformation, however, is not very edifying….
1521 Lutheran books appear in England. Cambridge students form a study-group at the White Horse Tavern; Thomas Cranmer is perhaps among them. Henry VIII writes a book on the sacraments against Luther. The bishop of Rome gives him a golden rose and names him “defender of the faith”.
1525 Henry VIII, who long ago got special permission from the bishop of Rome to marry his brother’s virgin widow Catherine, has been upset because she cannot bear him a son. This is the year Henry meets pretty Anne Boleyn. This begins the “King’s affair.” The bishop of Rome will not annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine, because Catherine’s nephew is holding him prisoner….
1526 Cardinal Wolsey presides at a massive burning of Lutheran books.
1527 Thomas Bilney, respected Cambridge preacher and Lutheran sympathizer, is dragged from his pulpit. (He is burned in 1531.)
1528 Simon Fish, a London attorney and amateur actor who has fled to Antwerp after spoofing the clergy, writes “A Supplication for Beggars”, which urges an end to taxes for Rome. (Henry VIII really likes this book.)
1529 Henry VIII decides he does not need to get permission from the bishop of Rome to have his marriage annulled. (The idea is probably Thomas Cromwell’s.) He declares himself head of the English church (whatever that means), forcibly cuts the Anglican bishops off from communion with Rome, calls the Reformation Parliament, and marries Anne Boleyn. Services at the churches, however, remain essentially the same. (The mass is in Latin, there is no sermon or systematic Bible reading, and the people are passive and receive communion only at Easter, getting only the consecrated bread.)
1532 Cranmer made archbishop of Canterbury. (This effectly ends clerical celibacy among Anglicans, as Cranmer is twice-married). The “Act in Restraint of Appeals” prohibits appeals to the bishop of Rome.
1534 “Act of Succession.” Everyone must swear allegiance to Henry VIII as head of the English church. Thomas More, his Prime Minister and author of “Utopia”, and John Fisher, saintly bishop of Rochester, refuse to swear.
1535 Henry VIII beheads Fisher and More after the bishop of Rome makes Fisher a cardinal. Henry is sorry to have to do this, and his court wears mourning for two weeks. Henry had intended to execute Mary, his daughter by Catherine, who also refused to swear. He was dissuaded from doing this by Cranmer.
1536 Henry VIII executes Anne Boleyn and marries Jane Seymour. He continues to oppose the introduction of an English-language Bible for his people.
1536 (Brussels) William Tyndale, a priest and Lutheran sympathizer who is responsible for an illegal English translation of the Bible, is strangled at the stake. Tyndale’s last words are “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
1536 Henry VIII ensures the permanent popularity of the English reformation by abolishing the monasteries and sharing the loot with almost everyone.
1538 John Rogers (alias Thomas Matthew) prints the Tyndale Bible translation (finished by Miles Coverdale) in Paris. It is approved by the Henry VIII as the “Great Bible” to be read by all his people.
1538 Jane Seymour dies following the birth of Henry VIII’s only legitimate son, Edward.
1539 The Six Articles, against Lutheranism. Hugh Latimer, bishop of Winchester, resigns in protest. Henry VIII is still occasionally burning Lutherans and hanging Roman Catholics.
1540 Henry VIII marries and divorces Anne of Cleves, executes the now-unpopular Thomas Cromwell, and marries Katherine Howard.
1543 Katherine Howard beheaded. Henry VIII marries Katherine Parr.
1544 Cranmer instructed to write prayers and a litany (for the army) in English. He does this so well that he is asked to make a prayer book in English, based on the service at Salisbury Cathedral.
1545 Henry VIII’s last speech to Parliament. He says Papist, Lutheran, Anabaptist are names devised by the devil to sunder one man’s heart from another.
1546 (Germany) Council of Trent. Bishops in communion with the bishop of Rome decide that the church “venerates equally” the Bible and the written and unwritten traditions (whatever that means). This is the beginning of the Tridentine Church (today’s Roman Catholic church). England is becoming a haven for Protestants from the continent.
1547 Henry VIII dies. He has executed around 60 people for “religious” reasons, among a total of about 130 political executions. He is succeeded by his sickly teenaged son, Edward VI. Chantries suppressed.
1548 Prayer of Humble Access, for the people to say in English, introduced into Latin mass.
1548 “Images” ordered removed from all churches by the council of regents. This also means no vestments, ashes, palms, holy water, or crucifixes. This causes so much resentment that an order suppressing all preaching follows.
1549 First Book of Common Prayer (Cranmer’s work), introduced on Day of Pentecost. It is written in English, emphasizes the people’s participation in the eucharist, and requires the Bible to be read from cover to cover. Fast days are retained (supposedly to help fishermen), but saints’ days are not. Roman Catholic rebels in Cornwall claim they cannot understand English.
1550 New ordinal requires that a Bible be given to newly-ordained bishops (not a staff) and priests (not eucharistic vessels).
1550 “Hooper’s visitation”. A bishop surveys the parish priests and finds them concerned about their work but poorly educated.
1552 Book of Common Prayer revised to suit Protestants. No more “real presence” at the eucharist (the “black rubric” permits kneeling, however). No vestments, no signing of the cross at confirmation, no holy oil, no reserved sacrament, no prayers for the departed.
1553 Forty-two articles drafted. The Calvinist influence is obvious.
1553 (Geneva) Calvin burns Michael Servetus, a Unitarian who has fled to escape the Spanish Inquisition. Liberals lose their illusions about Calvinism.
1553 Edward VI dies. People are tired of Protestant looting of churches. Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary”), a militant Roman Catholic, becomes queen. Popular at first, she soon marries the hated Philip II of Spain. Persecution of Protestants begins; Mary appoints new bishops and fires all married priests. During her reign, about 300 Protestans are burned, including 5 bishops, 100 priests, 60 women. An attempt by Cardinal Pole (Mary’s archbishop of Canterbury) to restore monasticism fizzles when, among 1500 surviving monks, nuns, and friars, fewer than 100 are willing to return to celibacy. All this ensures Roman Catholics will remain unpopular in England.
1555 Mary burns bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley at the stake (Oct. 16).
1556 Mary succeeds in brainwashing Thomas Cranmer, who signs a retraction which he later repudiates. Mary burns him at the stake (March 21).
1558 Mary dies. (Cardinal Pole dies minutes later.) Elizabeth I, a Protestant, becomes queen. Despite many problems (including frequent assassination plots from Roman Catholics), she supports the enterprising middle class and England prospers.
1559 Ordination of the moderate Matthew Parker as archbishop of Canterbury.
1559 Book of Common Prayer revised. Elizabeth I reintroduces the surplice, explaining that it is a clergyman’s uniform. The Black Rubric is gone. A special license is required to preach. There is no church music except metrical psalms sung to ballad tunes.
1560 Saints’ days are reintroduced.
1560 John Jewel writes “An Apology for the Church of England”. Rome, not England, is schismatic.
1563 Thirty-Nine Articles drafted as a doctrinal statement by a convocation of the Church of England.
1563 “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.” The bishop of Rome is portrayed as the Antichrist; Foxe writes speeches as needed for such “Protestant martyrs” as Thomas Cromwell.
1568 Archbishop Parker produces the “Bishop’s Bible”.
1564-1660: The Era of Puritanism
1564 The word “Puritan” appears for the first time. The Puritans are Calvinists, legalists, and name-callers. They are very serious, and oppose most things that are fun for themselves or others. They want:
a skilled, educated preaching ministry, based on the Bible
as few ceremonies in church as Biblically possible (no surplice, no signing of the cross)
abolition of the traditional role of bishop, and replacement of the episcopate by a presbyterian system
one legal government church, controlled by Puritans. (Contrast the Separatists.)
1569 Thomas Cartwright of Cambridge outlines the Puritan program.
1575 The “Geneva Bible”, an inexpensive edition with Calvinist notes, is published. (Shakespeare quotes this version.)
1581 Robert Browne’s “Treatise of Reformation without Tarrying for Any”. This will be the manifesto of the Puritans who found the Massachusetts Bay colony.
1581 Richard Hooker ordained priest; his anti-Puritan book “Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity” reflects natural-law and rationalist ideas then popular.
1590 William Shakespeare ridicules Puritans in his characterizations of Falstaff, Malvolio, Flavius, and others.
1593 Puritan assemblies and activities outlawed. A few Separatists are hanged.
1603 Elizabeth I succeeded by James I.
1604 Book of Common Prayer revised. The only change is an expanded catechism. The sacraments are “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”. At the eucharist, “the Body and Blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful”.
1605 “Gunpowder plot” by Roman Catholic fanatics seeking to blow up Parliament.
1611 King James Version of the Bible. Most of the language is Tyndale’s.
1618 James I’s “Declaration of Sports” is read in all churches to encourage healthy fun and games on Sundays. This outrages the Puritans.
1622 John Donne, priest and metaphysical poet, becomes Dean of St. Paul’s cathedral, London.
1625 James I is succeeded by Charles I; his colorful court fills with refugees, including Roman Catholic counter-reformation types.
1625 Christopher Wren begins rebuilding St. Paul’s Cathedral.
1626 Nicholas Ferrar founds religious community of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire, England.
1628 The narrow-minded William Laud is made archbishop of London. He oversees the persecution of Puritans.
1633 George Herbert’s poems published posthumously as “The Temple”.
1637 Scottish Prayer Book published. (This is unpopular in Scotland, though it does call priests “presbyters”. It will be the basis for the future American Prayer Book.)
1638 The Scots, crying “Popery”, excommunicate their bishops. This results in war.
1640 Charles I calls Parliament to approve funds for the war with Scotland; Parliament instead raises an army against the king. In the civil wars that follow, Oliver Cromwell leads the “New Model Army” rebels and becomes Lord Protector; John Milton is his Latin Secretary. Puritan morality becomes the law. (Today, Cromwell might be considered a Baptist; he says, sincerely, “I had rather that Mahometanism were permitted among us that that one of God’s children should be persecuted.”)
1643 Westminster Assembly drafts its “Confession”, the major Presbyterian statement of belief.
1645 William Laud is beheaded by the Puritans.
1649 Cromwell and his government behead (“martyr”) King Charles I.
1649 “Diggers” (communists), “Levellers” (egalitarians) and “Ranters” (atheists, hedonists) cause problems for the Puritan regime. (The latter are targets of the new “Blasphemy Act”.)
1660: Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II
Everyone is tired of Puritan rule. Puritan laws and censorship are repealed; the theaters re-open. The “Declaration of Breda” results in tolerance for Puritan views within the Anglican fold. The conflict with Puritanism leaves distrust for religious individualism and emotionalism (“enthusiasm”) among Anglicans. This will continue through the “Great Awakening”. Oppression of Ireland under both Royalists and Puritans makes it certain that Anglicanism will never be popular there.
1662 “Act of Uniformity” makes it impossible for Anglican bishops to continue in communion with other Christians whose ministers lack apostolic succession. Revised Book of Common Prayer makes many practices optional, and reintroduces many saints’ days.
1667 John Milton publishes “Paradise Lost”. (A “Socinian” and “Arminian”, he depicts the devils as the first Calvinists.)
1677 A Greek Orthodox rite church is built in London. A plan for ecumenical relationship with the Orthodox fizzles when the Ecumenical Patriarch finds out that the bishop of London will be in charge….
1685 Last execution for witchcraft in England.
1692 Salem witchcraft fiasco in New England.
1685 Charles II dies a Roman Catholic, and is succeeded by his brother, James II, a militant Roman Catholic.
1688 “Trial of the Seven Bishops”, for publishing a grievance against the king. The king’s prosecution of Archbishop Sancroft and his six colleagues ends with the Glorious Revolution; Parliament bloodlessly replaces James II with William III (of Orange). The Church of Scotland is officially made Presbyterian, as part of the settlement. Thomas Ken, bishop of Bath and Wells, refuses to swear allegiance to King William III and is deprived of his see. He is joined by Archbishop Sancroft and several others. (In 1700, Ken writes the hymn, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.”) The Scottish bishops also refuse to swear allegiance. During the next century, they will reintroduce customs from the ancient church, including adding water to the wine, prayer for the departed, invocation of the Holy Spirit during eucharist, speaking of the eucharist as “sacrifice”.
1689 Act of Toleration, partially restores civil rights to Roman Catholics and Dissenters. The events since the Reformation have finally convinced most Anglicans of the virtues of tolerance and mutual forbearance.
1707 Isaac Watts, a dissenter, publishes “Hymns and Spiritual Songs.”
1726 Jonathan Swift publishes “Gulliver’s Travels”.
1584-1776: America is colonized
The English church remains “the conservative party at prayer.”
1584 Richard Hakluyt, priest, writes “A Discourse on Western Planting”, provides impetus for colonization of America to pre-empt Roman Catholics.
1597 Francis Drake, English privateer, lands in San Francisco Bay and conducts first Anglican service in North America.
1607 Founding of Jamestown colony in Virginia. Most colonists have Puritan leanings. Robert Hunt, priest, leads Morning and Evening Prayer daily.
1611 Attendance at prayers made mandatory under “Dales’s Laws”.
1624 Virginia becomes a royal colony, required to conform to Church of England (though without a bishop, confirmations, ordinations, etc.)
1620 Plymouth colony founded by Separatists.
1630 Massachusetts Bay colony founded by Puritans on a Calvinist model for a Christian commonwealth.
1684 Massachusetts Bay colony’s charter as a Puritan state is revoked by England.
1687 Anglican liturgy is introduced at South Church, Boston, on Good Friday. Irate Puritans wait outside until it is over.
1691 Freedom of worship guaranteed in New England and New York for all Protestants. King’s Chapel in Boston is the center of Anglican worship, but there are essentially no parishes for several decades
1696 Thomas Bray, priest, put in charge of church work in Maryland. His people have an effective ministry in the southern colonies, especially to orphans, blacks and native Americans.
1699 Bray founds Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
1701 Bray founds Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which sponsors over 300 missionaries in the colonies over the next century.
1722 Timothy Cutler, rector of Yale, and Samuel Johnson, Congregational pastor of New Haven, announce their conversion to Anglicanism at Yale graduation. They return from England a few years later as S.P.G. missionaries.
1733 James Oglethorpe founds Georgia colony for relief of debtors; the idea is Bray’s.
1738-1784: The “Great Awakening”
Christian revival in England and America. This coincides with the Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, during which many educated people cease to consider themselves Christians.
1728 William Law writes “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.”
1738 John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, all Anglican priests, have religious experiences in Georgia.
1740 Open-air preaching, charismatic phenomena, and involvement of the poor. A nominal connection with Church of England continues until 1790’s. However, most Anglicans (being rationalists or even Deists, and remembering Puritanism) oppose the Awakening. Most other denominations support it. (Liberal opposition to Great Awakening is called “Old Light”).
1741 George Frederick Handel composes “The Messiah”.
1779 Charles Simeon, a scrupulous college student, discovers God’s free grace in Jesus Christ while preparing to receive communion. He becomes an Anglican evangelical leader.
1779 Olney Hymns published; it includes the original form of “Amazing Grace”, by John Newton, a converted slave trader.
1784 Methodist Episcopal Church founded in Baltimore by leaders designated by John Wesley. This is the beginning of Methodism as a separate denomination.
1776-1789: Origin of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America
1776 Declaration of Independence by American colonies. Two-thirds of the signers are nominal members of the Church of England, but they do not want the colonies to be governed by bishops. Many Anglicans flee to Canada or remain as Tories.
1782 William White, rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, writes “The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered”, suggesting clergy and laity elect some bishops and not bother about apostolic succession yet.
1784 Samuel Seabury consecrated first American bishop by Scottish bishops (Nov. 14)
1785 “General Convention” is boycotted by Seabury and the New Englanders because provision has not been made for a bishop to preside. The name “Protestant Episcopal Church” is chosen.
1786 Another “General Convention” learns Archbishop of Canterbury will ordain bishops for U.S.; Seabury is still uncooperative.
1787 William White and Samuel Provost made bishops by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
1789 “First” General Convention of Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., in Philadelphia. William White is Presiding Bishop. House of Bishops and House of Deputies established, after which Seabury agrees to come. Book of Common Prayer revised.
1794 St. Thomas African Episcopal Church admitted to Diocese of Pennsylvania.
1804 Absalom Jones, our first black priest, ordained.
1816 John Henry Hobart, high-churchman bishop of New York, leads revival of U.S. church.
1833-1890: The Victorian era
The trend during this period will be rediscovery of liturgy and church history (“high church”) and spreading Christianity (“low church” emphasis). Serious problems dealing with industrial poverty and with new scientific understandings.
The Oxford Movement
1833 John Keble’s sermon “National Apostasy” is against a common-sense plan to reduce the number of Irish bishops. It begins the Oxford Movement. (Keble is already known for his book of poems, “The Christian Year”, 1827). Edward Bouviere Pusey and John Henry Newman begin publishing “Tracts of the Times”. (Hence the movements’ other name, Tractarianism.) The Oxford Movement emphasizes the historic continuity of the church without opposing evangelicism and is regarded as strongly anti-liberal.
1844 James Lloyd Breck, priest, founds Nashotah House, with Anglo-Catholic emphasis.
1845 J. M. Neale founds the Ecclesiological Society, a club for college students interested in restoring and redesigning parish churches. John Henry Newman falls victim to the Roman fever, later becomes a cardinal.
1864 Royal College of Organists popularizes organs for church music.
1860 “Essays and Reviews”, favorable to science and modernism, published.
Rev. Frederick Temple, later Archbishop of Canterbury, discusses the valuable contributions of non-Christian thinkers.
Rev. H.B. Wilson pleads for tolerance and common sense in doctrinal matters, instead of “godless orthodoxy”, so that the church can retain credibility.
Rev. Rowland Williams reviews the new field of Biblical archaeology.
Rev. Benjamin Jowett popularizes historical and literary criticism of the Bible.
Rev. Mark Pattison reviews church history in the last century pointing out “irrational” elements.
Rev. Baden Powell popularizes new understandings about the earth’s real history.
C.W. Goodwin (the only layman) argues for a figurative interpretation of the Biblical creation stories.
Both high and low churchmen are appalled. The authors are called “the Seven Against Christ”. Dr. Pusey collects 11,000 signatures from outraged clergymen who still believe in scriptural inerrancy and eternal damnation for the wicked. Temple writes to the bishop of London, “Many years ago you urged us from the University pulpit to undertake the critical study of the Bible. You said that it was a dangerous study, but indispensable…. To tell a man to study, yet bid him, under heavy penalties, come to the same conclusions with those who have not studied, is to mock him.”
Conservatives are shocked when a secular court allows the clerical contributors to retain their positions. The court finds that a priest who doubts eternal damnation is not a threat to public morality.
1871 Order of deaconesses revived.
1874 English universities introduce qualifying examinations for graduates in theology. This is considered highly innovative.
1880 In England, colorful “high church” ceremonial worship is replacing “low-church” long sermons and drabness. The reserved sacrament is reintroduced.
1889 James De Koven, priest, of Nashotah House, asserts that it is all right for the U.S. church to have candles, incense, genuflections.
Dealing with Modernism
1730 First books appear questioning the literal interpretation of the Bible.
1791 Riots in Birmingham against Anglo-Unitarian scientist, Joseph Priestly.
1839 Charles Lyell, a devout Anglican, publishes “Elements of Geology”, which forms the basis of modern earth science. Evangelicals are horrified by Lyell’s rejection of a literal reading of Genesis in favor of “uniformitarianism”. This begins the era of major changes in views of man and universe.
1859 Charles Darwin, an Anglican, publishes “Origin of Species”. Practically all scientists studying natural history are convinced. The public is fascinated. Evolution controversies follow.
1863 (France) Renan’s “Life of Jesus”, based on historical and literary study of the Gospel accounts.
1863 Bishop J.W. Colenso of Natal, who favors the modernist approach to scripture (and believes in Black equality), is tried and convicted of heresy by the English bishops.
1865 Thomas Huxley (who coined the word “agnostic” to describe himself) humiliates Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in an evolution debate. Wilberforce eventually apologizes to Darwin.
1866 Hymn “The Church’s One Foundation” is written against Colenso.
1867 First Lambeth conference is called to resolve the Colenso affair.
1890 Charles Gore writes “Lux Mundi”, suggesting an Anglo-Catholic can accept historical and literary criticism of the Bible. Response is generally favorable.
1906 (Germany) Albert Schweitzer’s book, “Quest of the Historical Jesus”, demolishes the “liberal” pictures of Jesus Christ and forms the basis for all future objective study of Christian origins.
1910 “The Fundamentals” series of booklets begins publication in the U.S. Emphasis is on literal inerrancy of the entire Bible, rejection of historical and literary criticism of scripture and contemporary understandings of the natural world, and the belief that those not sharing this viewpoint are not really Christians. (This is “fundamentalism”.) Anglicans are generally indifferent or mildly hostile.
1913 “Foundations”, by a team of Oxford scholars, demonstrates that increasing acceptability of modernism.
1960 The bizarre evolutionary “gospel” of Tielhard de Chardin, priest-paleontologist who ultimately denies personal responsibility or personal immortality, is receiving attention from Anglicans and others.
1961 Contemporary study of the Bible no longer presents a problem for most Anglicans. See Bishop Stephen Neill’s “Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1961”.
1982 Scientific study of nature no longer presents a problem for most Anglicans. Though fundamentalist (inerrantist, etc.) beliefs are tolerated, they are a minority. Episcopal bishop of Arkansas joins Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Jewish leaders as successful plaintiffs against creationist “equal time” law. In US, the General Convention condemns special creationism. (“Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That this 67th General Convention affirms its belief in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, and in this affirmation rejects the rigid dogmatism of the ‘Creationist’ movement, and be it further Resolved, That we affirm our support of the scientists, educators, and theologians in the search for truth in the creation God has given and entrusted us.”)
World Missions and the Social Gospel
1807 Slave trade abolished in England. William Wilberforce, evangelical Anglican layman, is largely responsible. He is a member of the evangelical Clapham Sect of Anglicans, who are also successful in helping chimney sweeps and factory workers.
1823 Reginald Heber, hymn-writer, becomes the highly effective second bishop “and chief missionary” of Calcutta.
1832 First Reform Act enfranchises large numbers of the English poor. The act is generally opposed by the bishops; the Archbishop of Canterbury is almost struck by a dead cat during anti-clerical riots.
1838 Frederick Denison Maurice, priest with Unitarian background and socialist activist, publishes “The Kingdom of Christ”, about the causes of divisions among Christians.
1835 Jackson Kemper ordained Bishop and is first missionary bishop to American frontier.
1841 George Augustus Selwyn, linguist and swimmer, becomes first bishop of New Zealand
1846 William Augustus Muhlenberg founds Church of the Holy Communion in New York City. Innovations include free pews, weekly communion, and an unemployment fund.
1864 Samuel Crowther, former Black slave, made bishop “on the Niger”.
1865 William Booth begins the ministry that will become the Salvation Army. Anglicans and Methodists generally fail to support his work for many years.
1866 Channing Moore Williams made bishop of China and Japan
1871 John Coleridge Patteson, swimming bishop of Melanesia, and his friends are mistaken for slave traders and martyred.
1877 Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, translator of the Bible into various oriental languages, becomes bishop of Shanghai.
1885 James Hannington, bishop of East Equatorial Africa, and his companions are martyred by xenophobic King Mwanga of Uganda. (“Go, tell Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”)
1887 Nippon Sei Ko Kai, Anglican community in Japan, founded.
1890 Christian Student Movement starts in England.
1896 Bernard Mizeki, catechist, martyred in South Africa.
1942 Martyrs of New Guinea.
1870-present: The Ecumenical Movement and Religious Communities
1870 First Vatican Council. Roman Catholics who disagree with “Papal Infallibility” become Old Catholics. (The Polish National Catholic Church is Old Catholic.)
1870 Society of St. John the Evangelist of Cowley founded in Boston.
1881 Order of the Holy Cross founded.
1888 Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral on church unity. William Reed Huntington, priest and author of “The Church Idea”, is author. During the following years, Anglicans (especially in the mission fields) occasionally co-celebrate the eucharist with clergy who lack apostolic ordination. These episodes are typically described as “doubtless very pleasing to Almighty God, but not to be repeated.”
1896 Leo XIII, bishop of Rome, declares Anglican orders “absolutely null and void”. He says Matthew Parker’s ordination was somehow invalid.
1910 First World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh.
1913 Kikuyu Conference in Kenya. Anglical evangelicals celebrate a joint eucharist with Scottish Presbyterians, who of course lack apostolic ordination. Frank Weston, bishop of Zanzibar, accuses two involved bishops of heresy. This and similar episodes are described as “doubtless very pleasing to Almighty God, but not to be repeated.”
1913 Franciscan movement revived in the Anglican communion. The first friars are tramps. (Some Anglican friars appeared in the US during the last century, but fell victim to the Roman fever. These are today’s ecumenically-minded Graymoor friars.)
1914 World War I begins. Especially in Europe, Christianity is much less influential after the war than before.
1920 American Council on Organic Union in Philadelphia. Episcopalians attend, but the “Philadelphia Plan” fizzles during the following years.
1920 Lambeth conference issues “Appeal to All Christian People.” Full intercommunion with the Church of Sweden results.
1921 Cardinal Mercer joins Anglicans for the “Malines Conversations”, which continue to his death in l926.
1927 First World Conference on Faith and Order. Charles Henry Brent, bishop of Western New York, has been working to make this possible for seventeen years. (Brent is the author of “arms of love” collect.) Good attendance, no conclusions.
1930 Lambeth Resolutions on the Unity of the Church. Three Orthodox patriarchs now recognize the validity of Anglican orders.
1931 Agreement of Bonn. Anglicans enter into full communion with dissident Old Catholics on the continent. Mixing of episcopal lines begins.
Each Communion recognizes the catholicity and independence of the other, and maintains its own.
Each Communion agrees to permit members of the other Communion to participate in the Sacraments.
Inter-communion does not require from either Communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion, or liturgical practice, characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith.
1937 Talks begin in the USA about reunion with the Presbyterians. These fizzle because the Episcopalians insist on the historic episcopate.
1947 Church of South India formed as a result of union of Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregationalist churches. Church of North India follows in 1970.
1948 World Council of Churches convenes in Amsterdam as a “fellowship of churches which confess Jesus Christ as God and Savior.” Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher of Canterbury presides. Few members of third-world nations attend, and Roman Catholics do not participate.
1948 Philippine Independent Church acquires historic episcopate from American Episcopal Church.
1950 The Federal Council of Churches becomes the National Council of Churches in US.
1952 Second assembly of the World Council of Churches, in Evanston, Ill. Communion is held according to the rite of the Church of South India.
1960 Eugene Carson Blake, Presbyterian leader, proposes a union of Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, African Methodists, and the United Church of Christ, in a speech at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.
1960 Archbishop Fisher of Canterbury meets with the bishop of Rome.
1961 Third assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi. Many Slavic Orthodox join.
1962 Congress on Church Union (COCU) results from Blake’s efforts; meetings continue to this day.
1962 The bishop of Rome convenes the Second Vatican Council. Several Anglican bishops come as guests of the bishop of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church begins translating its prayer books into the vernacular and institutes other reforms.
1966 Archbishop Ramsey of Canterbury exchanges the kiss of peace with the bishop of Rome in the Sistine Chapel.
1968 Fourth assembly of the World Council of Churches in Uppsala. “Liberal” resolutions, especially on race. A fiasco involving the “Special Fund to Combat Racism” follows.
1975 Fifth assembly of the World Council of Churches. For the first time, the archbishop of Canterbury does not preside. A few Roman Catholics appear.
1976 Moscow Conference (Anglican-Orthodox).
1980 The archbishop of Canterbury joins the bishop of Rome in touring Africa.
1985 Communion outside one’s own denomination is a fact of life in virtually all U.S. denominations.
1888- Modern times.
1889 United Thank Offering founded
1891 Phillips Brooks, Anglo-Liberal preacher, elected bishop of Massachusetts (author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”).
1892 New U.S. Prayer Book solves some problems with redundancies in the service.
1906 The “English Hymnal”, the product of the Oxford Movement, enriches worship.
1927 T.S. Eliot, British poet, converts to Anglo-Catholicism. He celebrates his new faith in “Ash Wednesday”.
1928 New U.S. Prayer Book reintroduces prayer for the departed.
1942 C.S. Lewis writes “The Screwtape Letters”, advice from a senior to a junior devil. Lewis’s friends include Dorothy Sayers and Charles Williams (Anglicans) and J.R.R. Tolkien (Roman Catholic, responsible for Lewis’s conversion from atheism). They are called “the Oxford Christians”.
1944 First Anglican woman (Li Tim Oi) ordained priest, in China
1952 Revised Standard Version of the Bible is published and proves enormously popular. The Episcopal Church, with the National Council of Churches, is responsible.
1960 James Pike, a brilliant convert from Roman Catholicism, becomes bishop of California. During following years, he denies the virgin birth, Trinity, and Incarnation, provoking much controversy….
1966 Death of Bishop Pike’s son. Pike develops an interest in spirit mediumship which persists until his death, in l969, in the Dead Sea desert.
1970 A charismatic revival is underway among Episcopalians, with tongues-speaking and weekend consciousness-raising sessions in the US. The deliverance ministry receives particular attention in England. The charismatics are clearly Anglicans, though they are criticized for divisiveness.
1970 ECUSA approves ordination of women to diaconate.
1971 Two women ordained priest in Hong Kong
1974 Eleven women ordained priest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
1976 ECUSA General Convention approves ordination of women to all three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon..
1979 New U.S. Prayer Book approved. The mandate for this extensive revision came from the 1958 Lambeth conference. It is influenced by new understanding of ancient liturgy, and by Vatican II, the Church of South India, and the Protestant community at Taize. It has already been used experimentally for several years. The language is modernized. The eucharistic lectionary is an adaptation of the one already in use by Roman Catholics and many Protestant denominations. For the first time, post-Reformation Anglicans appear in the calendar. Most Episcopalians who attend church regularly like the new prayer book, though some bitterly oppose it and some join a schismatic group. (A majority of Episcopalians who seldom or never attend church oppose the new book.)
1984 Bishop Tutu of South Africa, opponent of apartheid, wins the Nobel Prize.
1985 New hymnal introduced.
Anglican-Orthodox “joint doctrinal discussions” concluded in Dublin.
1989 Barbara Harris consecrated suffragan of Massachusetts: first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion.
1990 Penelope Jamieson consecrated diocesan of Dunedin, New Zealand, first woman diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion
1992 Church of England approves ordination of women to the priesthood
1998 Eleven women bishops participate in the Lambeth Conference
today Anglicans are numerous on every continent and constitute the principal Christian community in many areas, notably in Africa.
The Book of Common Prayer exists in 170 languages. There are about 45 million Anglicans worldwide. There are three million Episcopalians in the US.
At least one survey indicates that, among all denominations in this country, we have the highest percentage of members who take time for daily prayer.
There is little doubt that, among all groups of Christians, we Anglicans are the most diverse and the most tolerant. Anglicans are still facing persecution in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, Communist China, the Soviet bloc nations, Central Africa, and Central America.
Throughout the world, over one thousand new Christian churches open their doors each Sunday. As always, Christianity flourishes wherever it shows people its highest ideals.