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Insights into the English Reformation Through Testimony of Those Who Lived Through It

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A rare opportunity to visit the ancient library in Worcester Cathedral is on offer as part of a special event to mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, which shattered the unity of the medieval church in Europe.

Darren Oldridge, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Worcester, will offer a unique insight on the Reformation’s ramifications in England, during a talk next week.

He will draw on centuries-old testimonies kept in the library.

“The story of England's Reformation is told in the books in this library,” said Professor Oldridge.

“They are a forgotten treasure trove. They reveal the passion and violence behind the creation of the Church of England, and what it meant to ordinary men and women on both sides of the religious divide.

"I want the people of Worcester to discover this beautiful place and experience something of the passion of the age in the old books that it holds."

These unique works will be displayed as part of Professor Oldridge’s presentation on Saturday, June 3, titled ‘The Reformation in Worcester Cathedral Library’.

The Reformation spread across Europe from 1517 onwards, dividing it between Protestants and Catholics.

In his talk, Professor Oldridge will address the long lasting effects of the Reformation in England, which was precipitated by Henry VIII’s desire to divorce his first wife and marry Anne Boleyn, which he had been prevented from doing by the Catholic Church.

“The Reformation transformed the western world, and in England was tumultuous and bloody,” he said.

"But the conflicts of the Reformation lasted long beyond Henry VIII's famous falling out with the Pope. They spilled into the brief and disorderly reign of his son Edward and his eldest daughter Mary, whose persecution of Protestants earned her the name of Bloody Mary.

“Eventually, the forces unleashed by the Reformation contributed to the outbreak of the English Civil Wars, which destroyed the monarchy itself."

Prof Oldridge's talk takes place at 2 pm. Places are limited so people should book at ihca@worc.ac.uk. Participants should meet at the main entrance to the Cathedral shortly before 2pm.