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In the 1530s, England was in turmoil. After centuries of following the Catholic faith, people were being told that their beliefs were wrong, and the ways in which they should express them must change.

An ordinary experience?

Image of the contents page of 'The King's Book'

‘The King’s Book’ detailed what Henry VIII’s subjects were meant to believe and how they should practice their religion.

It is hard to find out about the experience of ordinary people during the Reformation in England, but we do have some clues. Our current exhibition, The Reformation, includes a copy of the King’s Book (The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man) in which Henry VIII addressed his people directly. Published in 1543, the King’s Book brought together a number of existing publications, including the Ten articles of 1536 and the Six Articles of 1539, with some significant edits. It was a traditionalist revision of the religious changes which had been sweeping the kingdom for a decade, reflecting Henry’s own shift back towards orthodox Catholic beliefs. There was, of course, one notable difference to Henry’s Catholicism: in England, the king remained head of the Church.

The importance of print.

We know that this book was popular since it was reprinted many times. This may indicate the wide appeal of the king’s word, but may equally demonstrate that people were desperate to know what they should believe, and how they should show it.

The Radical Print demonstration on Thursday 8th February will show the John Rylands’ nineteenth century printing press in action and offer an insight into how print revolutionised life in the fifteenth century.

Sacred Sounds.

Central to the experience of Christinanity for many people at the time were encounters with sacred music. On Thursday 15th February, the John Rylands will host Sacred Sounds, an evening performance by Ad Solem, bringing the music of The Reformation to life. Ad Solem is a student-led chamber choir and part of the Manchester University Music Society.

In the unique setting of the John Rylands Library, visitors will be able to experience some of the new music which the Reformation brought into people’s lives.

Join us at this free event on 15th February, to experience sounds of the Reformation which brought such change to people’s lives five centuries ago.

Sacred Sounds is a free, unticketed event but spaces will be limited. The performance will start at 5:45pm and conclude by 6.30pm.

Radical Print is a free, drop-in demonstration of the nineteenth century printing press between 11.15 and 11.45am on Thursday 8th February. Booking is not required.

For more information, please see the John Rylands Library events pages at http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/whats-on/.