Process or event? If we have to define historical phenomena in such terms, then the English Reformation is more properly described as a process than as an event. So much so that it is often difficult to decide precisely who was and who was not a contemporary of the English Reformation. John Foxe? Of course. Thomas Cranmer? Yes. But what of John Whitgift, Richard Bancroft, William Laud, even John Strype? Just where do we draw the line? As will become apparent in the following pages, the idea of a continuing reformation - the completion of a half-finished job - remained with the English well into the nineteenth century. The issues raised between 1525 and 1662 continued to matter. Englishmen - Catholic, 'Anglican' and Nonconformist - felt deeply. This state of affairs was, in part, the result of the Elizabethan Settlement, which left the church 'but halfly-reformed' and which allowed so many interpretations of her nature and substance. For centuries, English people could argue, convincingly on all sides, that the Church of England was Catholic, Protestant or, indeed, neither. Historians are still rehearsing the pros and cons of the case - summoning as their witnesses the liturgies of Cranmer, the actions of monarchs, the declarations of reformers, the institutional apparatus of the church. Not only was there doubt about
the precise nature of the church of England after its 'reformation', there was in some quarters a refusal to accept that the process was over and an insistence that more change was called for. Men who lived fifty or a hundred years after the Henrician break with the papacy regarded themselves as agents of reformation.