Were his writings and example praised, ignored, or shunned? Britain was abuzz with political and religious printed works at least by the time of the Civil War, so he must have been known about.

  • 3
    I think we do not share an understanding of Protestant. Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and others were Protestant, but non-Lutheran. I can't quite understand the question in that light. Many agreed with the 95 thesis and shared the objection to the Roman church, but there is a huge gap between shared objection and shared belief. – MCW Oct 26 '15 at 0:53
  • Sorry, I don't understand your point. Are you saying not all non Catholics are the same? I said so in my question. I understand Luther was the number one influence in Germany and maybe the rest of western Europe, just wanted to know how influential in Britain – Ne Mo Oct 26 '15 at 8:30
  • I don't understand your assertion that "Protestant almost entails a follower of Luther" - I've listed a set of non Lutheran Protestant sects. – MCW Oct 26 '15 at 10:32
  • In modern times protestant refers to a wide variety of sects which don't necessarily share beliefs; in early modern Europe many people would confine that term to followers of Luther.That is what that paragraph means. – Ne Mo Oct 26 '15 at 11:04

As near as I can tell, at the time of the publication of Luther's 95 Theses in 1518, there was not a significant openly-protestant movement in England. The kingdom would not break with the Catholic Church for another 25 years, and even then the differences were initially only over King Henry VIII's personal desire for an annulment.

The native movement of the time was the Lollard movement of the 1400's. The similarities between it and the start of Lutheranism are in fact rather striking, right down to the political points posted on the church doors. The only thing the Lollards were really missing was the printing press. If they'd only had that, we might today be talking about how the reformation started in England.

However, Lollardy had to spread by much slower and more expensive hand-copying, or by word of mouth, so it was much easier for the Catholic Church and English civil authorities to suppress it. There were still Lollard heresy executions up to 1532, but by then what little of the movement remained had been driven very much underground.

By this time of course there was a printing press, and the Lollards had their own (banned of course) books. One such book was The Obedience of a Christian Man by William Tynsdale1. In it he defended Martin Luther from the charge that he had started a large-scale peasant uprising. Tynsdale worked for a while in Lutheran areas of Germany, and was apparently an admirer of Martin Luther. Sadly, he was executed 2 years before his king broke with Rome2, but his work certainly lived on. Analysts have said his English translation of the Bible makes up more than 75% of the King James Bible, which is probably the single most influential work in English literature.

1 - Admittedly, Tynesdale was not himself a protestant, but he had very unconventional views for a Catholic priest, and was eventually denounced as a heretic.

2 - His opposition to the aforementioned divorce, rather than his heresy had a lot to do with this

  • What about later? What was Luther's influence through Elizabeth, the Stuarts, the Civil War and Restoration? – Ne Mo Oct 26 '15 at 8:33
  • Thank you for the information about Tynesdale, I hadn't heard of him before. – Ne Mo Oct 29 '15 at 13:20

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