Making the Devil Personal

The Varying Style of Mid-Sixteenth Century English Eucharistic Debating


  • Amanda Allen


England, Religion, Catholicism, Protestantism


In mid sixteenth-century England, religious change was
continual and sparked many debates over proper church
doctrine. As Henry VIII and Edward VI changed religious
policies, doctrinal debates became more heated and personal.
A major area of contention was the nature of the Eucharist. For Bishop
Stephen Gardiner, the true Catholic doctrine affirmed Christ's Real
Presence in the bread and wine, while Protestants Bishop John Hooper
and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer believed the real doctrine affirmed a
spiritual presence within the receiver, but not Christ's corporeal
presence in the bread and wine. What started as a purely theological
issue evolved within a few years to a debate combining theological,
political, and personal motivations. The new emphasis resulted in an
altered religious rhetorical style that shaped religious and political life
in mid sixteenth-century England and later. In order to highlight the
motivational and stylistic changes, this paper will first examine the
debate between Gardiner and Hooper in 1546-1547, when conservative
Henry VIII died and his son Edward VI ascended to the throne.
Edward’s ascension gave rise to many Reformers’ hopes that Henry’s
conservative theology would be overthrown for more Protestant
ideologies, specifically regarding the Eucharist. The paper will then
look at the Eucharist debate between Gardiner and Cranmer in 1551,
when the Edwardian Reformation was nearing its peak. The political
and religious contexts in which these two debates took place differed
significantly in just a five-year span. As the context changed, so too did
the authors' written tone and language; the theology on both sides
remained the same, but the argumentative method changed.



How to Cite

Allen, A. (2022). Making the Devil Personal: The Varying Style of Mid-Sixteenth Century English Eucharistic Debating. Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians, 29, 25. Retrieved from