Powys Digital History Project

Religion in Wales
The Reformation

The church and the crown
Between 1527 and 1533 King Henry VIII plunged his realm into crisis with a series of measures which were designed to give him the power to award himself a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and allow him to marry Anne Boleyn, who he hoped would give him an heir. In doing so he took the church in England and Wales out of papal control and under supremacy of the crown.
Stone head from Abbey CwmhirWhether changes would have come to the church without the king’s personal needs is unclear, but there were reforming influences reaching Britain from abroad at the time. Few of these, however, appear to have had much effect on Wales.
New ideas on doctrine might possibly have reached the English speaking towns of Wales through printed material, but the principality was essentially rural and in the countryside a largely monoglot Welsh population were isolated and ministered to by an impoverished and ill-educated clergy. When Henry’s Act of Supremacy required the clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the crown as head of the church, the vast majority of the Welsh clergy did so without complaint.

Protestant reforms
Appointments of senior clergy inclined towards reform in Wales and the enforcement of Injunctions against Idolatry and other traditional observances began to change the practices in parish churches all over Wales.
Sir John Price of Brecon published the first Welsh language printed book,
Yn y Lhyvyr Hwnn, which contained the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, and in the preface urged the printing of Welsh language religious texts.

There are 4 pages on the Reformation in Wales. Use the box links below to view the other pages.