Making the Devil Personal: The Varying Style of Mid-Sixteenth-Century English Eucharistic Debating
This article moves us back in time to mid-sixteenth century England and reveals the antagonisms between promoters of the English Reformation and supporters of traditional Catholicism. Amanda Wrenn Allen highlights the change in rhetoric in writings about the Eucharist from being generally polite and theological to sliding into personal attacks, in which the two main combatants, Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer identified each other, rather than the devil, as the enemy. Earlier historians have noted the shift in rhetoric but dated the change to the late sixteenth century. Allen pinpoints the change more explicitly to the period 1546-1551. She argues that in 1546, when the earliest debates began, it was not clear whether the new king, Edward VI, would continue and deepen the Reformation in England or would retain some of the conservative theology and practices of the Church under Henry VIII. By 1551, England had clearly moved toward a Protestant position, Gardiner was in prison and he and Cranmer had become personal, as well as religious, enemies.