H E N R Y VIII
At the beginning of his reign Henry’s good looks and hearty personality his fondness for sport and the hunt , and his military prowess endeared him to his subjects . A monarch of the Renaissance , he entertained numerous scholars and artists , including the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger who painted several portraits of the king and members of his court .
A Question of Divorce
In 1511 Henry joined in the Holy League against France and in 1513 he led the English forces through a victorious campaign in northern France . Meanwhile France’s ally James IV of Scotland , Henry’s brother-in-law , led an invasion of northern England that was crushed in September 1513 at Flodden Field by Henry’s commander Thomas Howard , 2nd Duke of Norfolk with the death of the king and many Scottish nobles . Deserted by his allies , Henry arranged a marriage in 1514 between his sister Mary and Louis XII of France , with whom he formed an alliance .
Louis’s successor , Francis I , met Henry at a magnificently stages meeting on the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 but no significant political decisions resulted . In 1521 Henry arranged the death of his counsellor Edward Stafford , 3th Duke of Buckingham , one of the few nobles with a potential claim to the throne . In 1525 riots broke out in England in protest against an attempt by Henry to levy taxes for military purposes and he withdrew from major military activity in Europe.
In 1527 Henry announced his desire to divorce his wife , on the grounds that the papal dispensation making the marriage possible was invalid . The chief reason for the divorce was that Catherine had failed to produce a male heir . Her only surviving child was Mary later Mary I of England . In addition , Henry was in love Anne Boleyn , a young and beautiful lady-in-waiting of the queen . Several obstacles however stood in the way of the divorce . Holy Roman Emperor Charles V , Catherine’s nephew , strongly opposed the divorce , and Pope Clement VII , whom Charles had made a prisoner could not invalidate the marriage without displeasing his captor .
In 1528 the pope was persuaded to appoint Henry’s chief minister , the English cardinal and statesman Thomas Wolsey , and Lorenzo Camppegio , a papal legate , to try the case in an English legatine court . In 1529 the pope summoned the case to Rome . When the prospect of securing a papal annulment seemed hopeless , Henry dismissed Wolsey , who died soon after in disgrace , and appointed the humanist scholar and statesman Sir Thomas More as Lord Chancellor . The latter , however , was reluctant to support the divorce.
The Break with the Papacy
Henry now preceeded to dissolve one by one the ties to the papacy . With the aid of parliamentary legislation , he first secured control of the clergy , compelling that group in 1532 to acknowledge him as head of the English Church . In the following year Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn , who was crowned Queen after Henry’s obedient Archbishop of Canterbury , Thomas Cranmer , declared the marriage with Catherine void and that with Anne valid . An act of succession affirmed the declaration of the archbishop and established Anne’s progeny as heirs to the throne . Henry’s new chief minister Thomas Cromwell , a former follower of Wolsey , began a reform of the English Church but also of governmental machinery : introducing important centralizing and organizational changes dubbed by some “the Tudor revolution in government” .
Although Hehry was immediately excommunicated , he repudiated papal jurisdiction in 1534 and made himself the supreme ecclesiastical authority inEngland with the aid of compliant bishops such as Stephen Gardiner . The English people were required to affirm under oath Henry’s supremacy and the act of succession . However , early hopes by Protestant radicals such as William Tyndale to introduce the Reformation into England were broadly thwarted : apart from the issue of papal supremacy Henry remained conservative in matters of doctrine . Nonetheless , an English translation of the Bible by Miles Coverdale was officially published in 1535 .
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