King Henry VIII was an important figure in helping to kick start the Reformation in England, even though it was not his intent. His break with the Papacy and his constantly changing ideas on how the new Church of England should be run gave the Protestants the foothold they needed to gain popularity in Europe. Although his intentions were purely politically motivated, he started a change in the way the layman viewed the church and how it should be run.
THE LIFE OF HENRY VIII
Henry VIII was born on June 28, 1491 to the King Henry VII of England and Queen Elizabeth of York. He was the second son and his elder brother Arthur and his bride Catherine of Aragon inherited the throne upon his father’s death.2 In 1502, shortly after ascending the throne, Arthur died, leaving the throne to a young Henry and leaving his new bride a widow. Due to his age Henry did not ascend the throne until 1509. After his coronation, a match was made between Henry and his brother’s widow, Catherine, in order to seal the friendship between England and Spain. The Pope granted Catherine a dispensation of her marriage to Arthur.
Soon after, Henry and Catherine were married. During their marriage, Henry and Catherine produced six children, only one of which survived infancy, Mary who was born in 1516.
After several failed attempts to produce a male heir, Henry began to question the validity of his marriage to Catherine.4 Henry and Catherine’s failure to produce a male heir was taken as a sign of divine wrath because Henry had take his brother’s widow as his bride. This caused growing repugnance for Catherine, and Henry began to contemplate divorce.5 Henry made several attempts to place his illegitimate son on the throne, including considering marrying him to his daughter Mary, but decided it was an unwise solution. Henry decided that the only solution to his problem was to divorce Catherine and take another wife.6
In 1527, Henry appealed to the Pope to grant him an annulment of his marriage, however due to his ties with Charles V, Catherine’s nephew, the Pope refused to grant the divorce for fear of causing conflict with the emperor.7 After being rejected by the Pope, Henry consulted his new advisor, Thomas Cramner, on the matter. Cramner appealed to Parliament to confirm that Henry’s marriage to Catherine was invalid. Henry secretly marries a lady in his court, Anne Boleyn, in 1533. He decides to officially break with the Catholic church the following year and makes himself the head of the Church of England. He appoints Cramner as his new Archbishop and Cramner publicly declares the marriage between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon as invalid.
The Pope is outraged by Henry’s move to break with the Catholic church and he is excommunicated for breaking with Papal authority. King Henry and Queen Anne produce a daughter shortly after their secret marriage. Their daughter Elizabeth would be their only surviving child. Once again,...