Henry VIII and The English Reformation

Henry VIII, the second king of the Tudor dynasty, was a staunch Catholic. He unwittingly admitted Protestantism into his country because of a divorce. Thus, through him and his successors, Protestantism took a firm grip on England.

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

Henry VIII did not like Martin Luther or his ideas. He simply wanted his marriage with his brother Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, annulled because she did not bear him a male heir. She only gave him a daughter who would later be known as Mary Tudor.

Meanwhile, Henry had secretly married a woman named Anna Bolena, a lady-in-waiting of the Queen. Henry was desperately trying to get rid of Catherine because Anna Bolena was expecting a child.

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was in favor of Protestantism. He got Henry’s marriage dissolved because he wanted the Catholic Church farther away and he also wanted to get on the king’s good side so that he could edge Protestantism in.

At Cranmer’s advice, Henry made a new Church—the Church of England—and made himself the head of it. Simultaneously passed by Parliament was a bill called the Treason Act, which said that any who disputed that Henry was the head of the Church would be executed for high treason. One of these men was the brave St. Thomas More, a man who was “the king’s loyal servant, but God’s first.”

Anna Bolena was officially made Queen in 1533, but her child turned out to be a girl, later Elizabeth I so Henry had her beheaded.

Then he married a beautiful woman named Jane Seymour. She finally bore him a son, later Edward VI. Unfortunately, Jane died two weeks later.

The next unlucky wife was Anne of Cleves, a young German princess who was married to him for political reasons. Because she was unattractive, Henry sent her home.

The next one for his executioner’s sword was Catherine Howard, a young girl of nineteen. She bore him no children and so he (already foreseen) had her executed.

Finally, to conclude his wobbly married life, Henry married Catherine Parr, who outlived him. Lucky her.

Edward VI, the ten-year-old king, was too young to ascend the throne and rule all by himself so Protestant regents ruled for him. These regents unseemingly changed important worship practices and prayers of the Catholics. They did this with two documents that were subtly published. Edward, poor lad, died young and left the throne open for his Catholic sister Mary.

Mary Tudor succeeded Edward and immediately tried to bring the country back into Catholicism. This earned her the nickname Bloody Mary. Her sister, Elizabeth I, succeeded her.

Protestantism was allowed and established firmly in England during the reigns of these monarchs. England had, unwittingly, become a Protestant nation.


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