HENRY VIII - FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
The sixteenth century is the Renaissance age – the age of development of fine arts, the age of religious and social changes, the age that shut the door of Middle Ages. And maybe only the age like that could create a person like Henry VIII. He was probably the greatest monarch of his time. Henry was also one of the greatest English kings of all time and his policies led at the end to the English Reformation. This research paper will focus on his private life, his policies and on circumstances of rise of the Church of England.
Henry’s childhood was quite common for a member of a royal family. Henry was born in 1491 as a younger son of Henry VII Tudor. He was very skilled in physical and also artistic way (Henry VIII, 1992; Halliday, 1995). He was not a heir to the throne till his older brother died. When he was 18 his father died and he accessed the throne (Halliday, 1995). With the pope’s permission he married his brother’s widow Catherine of Aragon (Henry VIII, 1992).
One important man stood at the beginning of Henry’s reign. It was Thomas Wolsey. He was the first minister, lord Chancellor, archbishop of York (later Cardinal), king’s right hand and also a friend. Wolsey’s government supported Henry in a invasion to France where he fought on the side of Spanish king, his father-in-law (Henry VIII, 1992). According to Halliday (1995), good relationship with Spain was important as Spain ruled Netherlands and English trade went mainly through Antwerp. In these years Wolsey became very rich and powerful and therefore very unpopular. His position brought him later big problems.
The most important political issue in Henry’s reign had become so-called “king’s great matter”; in other words, divorce from Catherine of Aragon. The reason was obvious, Henry still had no male heir. Catherine gave only one daughter, Mary (Henry VIII, 1992).
Therefore Henry ordered to Wolsey (Haigh, 1992) to ask the pope to pronounced Henry’s marriage invalid. As a reason he stated that marriage with his brother’s widow is against Bible and that lack of a son is kind of punishment from God. The pope refused as he was under a strong influence of the Emperor, king of Spain and Catherine’s nephew (Henry VIII, 1992). Pope’s reluctance meant a fall of Wolsey (Haigh, 1992).
However, Henry did not respect the papal decision.
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Henry VIII - Founder of the Church of England
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