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1531 - Persecuted Protestants from the Continent begin to seek refuge in England
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Some of these refugees are from Germany and Italy. However, the largest number come from France and the Spanish Netherlands.

The Spanish Netherlands is the name given to a large area of territory that includes modern Holland and Belgium and a strip of northern France. It is also called the Low Countries. At this date it is ruled by the Emperor Charles V, who is hostile to the Protestants.

In the northern part of the Netherlands people speak Dutch and Flemish, two languages that are closely related. In the southern part the people of the Spanish Netherlands speak French and Walloon, a dialect of French.

In Tudor times the English often do not bother to make much distinction between the Dutch and the Flemings. They refer to them all as 'the Dutch'. They lump together the Walloons and the French as 'the French'.

Though King Henry the Eighth has broken England's ties with the Pope, he is not a Protestant. In his reign the Church of England keeps many beliefs and practices that the Protestant Reformers dislike. For instance, priests are not allowed to marry.

During the next few years, several Protestants will be burned at the stake for holding beliefs that Henry considers to be heresies. All the same, for most Protestants England is now a much safer place to live than France or the Netherlands. 



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