he Tudor period was a time of huge religious change, which had a deep impact on London and the people that lived here. At the beginning of the 16th century, England was a Catholic country and the Pope in Rome was in charge of religion. When the Pope refused to give King Henry VIII a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, the king decided to take control of religion in England. In 1534 Henry passed the Act of Supremacy which made him head of the English church. The Archbishop of Canterbury then annulled Henry's marriage to Catherine, though Henry had already married his next wife, Anne Boleyn.
This Act led to many religious changes called the English Reformation which turned England into a Protestant country. By 1550 there was an official Bible and prayer book in English so people could read religious texts themselves (before this, these books were in Latin which few people outside the church could read). From 1536 the clergy were ordered to preach against the worship of saints and their relics, and shrines were destroyed. This meant that people could no longer visit holy shrines on pilgrimages.
Find out how people worshiped saints and went on pilgrimages to holy shrines
Badge bought by a pilgrim at the shrine of King Henry VI in Windsor as a souvenir of their pilgrimage
Badge bought by a pilgrim at the shrine of Our Lady of Willesden as a souvenir of their pilgrimage
St Paul's map image printed from the Copperplate Map, 1559
Dissolution of the
n important event was the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when Henry VIII ordered the monasteries and nunneries across the country to be closed. This was because the monks and nuns living in these religious houses were said to be corrupt and not following a proper religious lifestyle. It was also because many religious houses were very rich – Henry took their wealth and lands and sold them off to make himself lots of money. By 1540 nearly all the monasteries were closed. In London the church had owned two-thirds of the land. After the Dissolution, people bought the empty monasteries, converted them to luxury townhouses or set up businesses in them.