The Catholic heritage

Tumultuous times

Marlowe was born just after the middle of the sixteenth century, an era which, in England, was fraught with extraordinary events. It was marked by discord, violence and change, particularly affecting the monarchy and the practice of the Christian religion in England. Many of these events lie in the background of the action of Doctor Faustus.

Papal rule

Pope Julius IIAt the beginning of the sixteenth century, England was a Christian country following the practices of the Catholic Church. As today this was governed by the Pope whose headquarters were in Rome. The Catholic Church saw it itself as having been established by Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, and all Popes since then have been regarded by Catholics as descending in a direct spiritual line from Peter.

Although the kings of England were supreme rulers within the country in all earthly, or temporal, matters, the Pope had supreme power in all western Christian states, over matters of religious doctrine and modes of worship. Both doctrine and worship were to become central issues in the religious controversies of the following century and more. More on the power of the Church?

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