July 26, 1603: James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England. Among his many acts affecting English religious life (it is he for whom the King James Version is named) was the issuing of the Book of Sports, approving sports on Sunday.
July 26, 1833: Having abolished the slave trade in 1807, Britain's House of Commons bans slavery itself. When William Wilberforce, who had spent most of his life crusading against slavery, heard the news, he said, "Thank God I have lived to witness [this] day." He died three days later (see issue 53: William Wilberforce).
July 26, 1869: England's Disestablishment Bill is passed, officially dissolving the Church of Ireland. It is from this act that we get the mighty word "antidisestablishmentarianism," which was the organized opposition to the legislation.
September 25, 1534: Pope Clement VII dies. An unpopular pope, Clement failed to halt Luther's reformation or to implement his own reforms in the Catholic church. Henry VIII asked Clement VII to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. The pope's reluctance led to Henry VIII's break from Catholicism (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).
September 25, 1555: The Peace of Augsburg is signed after the defeat of Emperor Charles V's forces by Protestant princes in Germany (1552). The official ...