The Reformation is an all-encompassing term for a movement for religious change and reform that began in the latter years of the fifteenth century, reached a critical point in 1517 with the publication of Luther's ninety-five theses and gathered momentum through the 1520s and 1530s. Sadly, many parts of Europe descended into violence, repression, torture and civil war as religious tolerance was a concept that few could accept.

It is anachronistic to use the term Protestant in a religious sense much before 1540, and, in the early days the position of individuals between tradition and reform advanced and retreated over time. By the second half of the sixteenth century, positions had hardened, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation was in full swing to try to halt the advance of Protestantism.

Protestantism was not a monolithic faith, and the experiences of all four countries in the British Isles were different. Ireland remained largely Catholic, Wales, Northern England and the Highlands of Scotland had significant majorities who kept to the old faith, whilst the official Scottish position was more radically Protestant with a Presbyterian form of Church governance.

James VI & I dreamed of reuniting the different factions, and the new Bible translation he commissioned was part of that strategy.