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Journal > Volumes > 34 (2003) / 2 (Summer)
"A Godly Wyfe Is an Helper": Matthew Parker and the Defense of Clerical Marriage
Nancy Basler Bjorklund
Lullerton College

Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker (1504-75) defended priestly matrimony throughout his career. His life, library, and letters provide counterevidence to Eric Carlson's argument that the clergy failed to receive marriage enthusiastically and were themselves responsible for its slow acceptance in England. Parker maintained his positive attitude toward marriage through five decades of shifting royal policies, when he delayed his marriage during the reign of Henry VIII, was married prematurely under Edward VI, sacrificed his career because of marriage during Mary's reign, and endured Elizabeth's displeasure because of his married state. In contrast to Carlson's premise that Elizabeth harbored no hostility toward married clergy, Parker perceived the queen's negative attitude and, therefore, defended clerical matrimony with his policies and publications. His example of a happily married clergyman suggests that Carlson's interpretation might be tempered by study of both the opponents and advocates of clerical marriage.

Pages: 347 - 365