The spiritual expectations of most sixteenth-century English people seem to have been met quite effectively by the religious opportunities that were available within and alongside the church. No theoretically comprehensive institution, however, can please all of the people all of the time, and a period of significant change presents a particularly challenging atmosphere within which to operate. The Reformation century, not surprisingly, had its share of individuals and groups who preferred to seek spiritual fulfilment beyond the church. They were always a small minority, but their importance in the religious history of the period is indisputable.
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