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Was there freedom of religion in Tudor England?


The child is invited to enquire into religious tolerance in Tudor times from the perspective of the multi–faith religious tolerance they are taught in the National Curriculum now. Pupils are given a checklist with options to check true or false. To help them do this, they have to look at objects and documents for evidence of changes in the practice of religion in the 16th century. The final task is to decide if there was religious freedom in Tudor England. The pupil is given a supported explanation to conclude the activity.

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  • The examination of John Laithwood for not attending church
  • A deliberately damaged church painting
  • A list of pensions paid to the monks of St. Osyth's when Henry closed their monastery
  • An illustration from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs


The 16th century religious Reformation is a very difficult topic for 21st century pupils to think about. Nevertheless, it is obviously very important and any treatment of Tudor history is inadequate without attempting to deal with it. It is hoped that the focus on the issue of freedom, and the real sources, will help children comprehend 16th century attitudes and actions.

Supporting materials include:

  • We have not directly explained the events of the Reformation within the central enquiry. However, for interested pupils, we have provided a timeline that addresses this.
  • Teachers can extend the activity in the classroom by looking at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and getting pupils to draw up their own rules for religious freedom.

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The Tudors – Teacher's notes

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