By Theodora Helen Wickham
Master’s Thesis, University of Waikato, 2007
Abstract: The reigns of the five Tudor monarchs were the context of vast changes in the nature of religion and government in England. This study explores the way in which these changes were reflected in sermons preached before the princes. Five preachers have been selected, one from each reign. All the sermons were delivered before the reigning monarch in English, and were printed and published shortly afterwards.
The Introduction gives a general overview of the thesis. The subject matter of Chapter 1 is concerned with the funeral oration at the obsequies of Henry VII. Bishop John Fisher focuses his attention on the death of Henry, his contrition for his sins, and his reliance on God, through Holy Church, for the assurance of forgiveness. Chapter II examines a Good Friday sermon preached at Greenwich Palace before Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536 by the King’s confessor, John Longland. Longland promotes the beliefs and practises of Holy Church notwithstanding Henry’s rejection of papal authority. In Chapter III, Hugh Latimer, the ‘Prophet to the English,’ preached a series of sermons before Edward VI in the Preaching Place at Whitehall during Lent 1549. Latimer’s aim is to show Edward the path to true kingship and to promote justice in the realm. The sermons of Thomas Watson, Dean of Lincoln, before Queen Mary at Greenwich in Lent 1554 are the subject of Chapter IV. Watson supported the Queen in her efforts to return England to the true faith. Chapter V analyses the sermon John Whitgift, Dean of Lincoln, preached before Elizabeth I at Greenwich in Lent 1574. Whitgift refuted Catholic beliefs but reserved his greatest attacks for the radical Protestants.