The Reformation

7 Sep 2017 – 4 Mar 2018

Event times

10am - 5pm, daily

Cost of entry


The John Rylands Library

England, United Kingdom


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One of the worlds earliest examples of print goes on display to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.


A monk who shattered the strength of the Catholic Church, a monarch who wanted to take more than one wife, a society that put sin up for sale – and the power of the printed word to challenge it all. To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, The John Rylands Library in Manchester will present The Reformation (7 Sep 2017 - 4 Mar 2018), an exhibition that will explore a series of events that changed the course of history forever.

In October 1517, German monk and scholar Martin Luther began questioning the Catholic Church, particularly for its sale of “indulgences”, or sins that could be forgiven - for a price. Luther may have remained a little-known scholar but for the fact that his words took shape in printed form, reaching thinkers all over the world – including the radical scholar, William Tyndale and one of history’s most notorious monarchs, King Henry VIII.

The Reformation invites visitors to journey through these tumultuous times and find out how Luther’s work led to the splintering of the Catholic Church in England. Learn how Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce led him to overthrow the Catholic Church and elect himself head of the Church of England and discover why William Tyndale’s translation of the bible into English is still felt in the language we speak today.

This latest exhibition explores the consequences of these events via rare religious tracts owned by The John Rylands Library, letters that positively spit blood, and one of the world’s earliest examples of print. Visitors will discover how revolutionary writing not only changed the course of English history. It shows us words that changed the world

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Julianne Simpson


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