Changing ideas about religion

The Reformation - when millions of people rejected the Roman Catholic Church and turned to Protestant Churches - was one of the key changes in European history and it had a significant effect on migration to Britain. Europe became divided and there were violent religious wars.

In 1500 England was a Roman Catholic country. By 1750, after the turmoil of the 16th century Reformation and the 17th century civil wars, Britain was the leading Protestant power in Europe. Catholic Spain and France were its main enemies.

By the mid-18th century, British society was more accepting of different religious practices, partly thanks to immigration. Protestant and Jewish communities had their own places of worship and similar freedoms were being offered to Nonconformists and, eventually, Catholics.