This is an excellent thread of discussion. I am writing between spells in airports, but following it closely. I am a born and raised Catholic (no longer believer), so I am pleased to see that your interpretations of Catholic motives and history are correct. Catholics are supposed to understand their religion only through the interpretations of the clergy, and to these days even fanatic Catholics are shockingly ignorant of the Bible, and believe the weirdest ideas, never even hinted at in the Scriptures (such as confession, Purgatory, the Virgin Mary as a godess, or the saints as valid intermediaries between humans and God). Pope Innocent III (12th Century) invented confession and enforced the previoulsy only recommended celibacy of priests. He is a key figure in the history of Catholic doctrine. There is an excellent novel whose title would be translated as "The Dream of Innocent", by Mexican author Gerardo Laveaga, but I don't know if it has been translated to English.
I also agree that pre-Victorian people would have talked very approximately as characters speak in "Wolf Hall", based on my readings of Chaucer and others.
I liked the novel very much and am looking forward to the sequel, which I'll get as soon as I can.
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