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It was very important to Henry VIII that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, should give birth to a male child. Without a son to take over from him when he died. Henry feared that the Tudor family would lose control of England. Catherinegave birth to six children but five died within a few weeks of being born. Only one child, Mary, survived into adulthood.
By 1530 Catherine was too old to have any more children. Therefore, Henry decided he would have to have another wife. His choice was Anne Boleyn, the 20-year-old daughter of Thomas Boleyn, Viscount Rochford. Before he could marry Anne, Henry had to gain permission from the Pope.
Henry sent a message to the Pope arguing that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon had been invalid as she had previously been married to his brother Arthur. When Catherine discovered Henry's plans she informed King Charles V of Spain. Unwilling to have his aunt lose her position, Charles warned the Pope that he would be very angry if he granted Henry a divorce.
The Pope knew that once he made a decision, he would upset one of these two powerful monarch. In an attempt to keep the peace, the Pope put off making a decision about Henry's marriage.
In January 1533 Henry VIII discovered that Anne Boleyn was pregnant. As it was important that the child should not be classed as illegitimate, arrangements were made for Henry and Anne to get married. King Charles V of Spain threatened to invade England if the marriage took place, but Henry ignored his threats and the marriage went ahead.
In September Anne gave birth to a daughter called Elizabeth. While Henry was furious about having another daughter, the supporters of Catherine of Aragon were delighted and claimed that it proved God was punishing Henry for his illegal marriage to Anne.
In March 1534 the Pope eventually made his decision. He announced that Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn was invalid. Henry reacted by declaring that the Pope no longer had authority in England. In November 1534, Parliament passed an act that stated that Henry VIII was now the Head of the Church of England.
Henry was delighted when Anne became pregnant again. In January 1536 Anne had a son. Unfortunately the child was born dead. Later that year Henry accused Anne of committing adultery with five different men. Anne and the men were all executed. Ten days later Henry married Jane Seymour. The following year, Jane died giving birth to a son called Edward. Henry now at last had a male heir.
Henry VIII’s relationship with the Pope
1509- Henry VIII crowned king.- Good relationship with the Pope.
1520-Martin Luther begins to protest against the Pope, and Henry defends the Pope by writing a book attacking Martin Luther with words, saying that he is a bad person and not be trusted. The Pope becomes happy with the fact of Henry defending the church and gives him the title, Defender of the Faith, or, in Latin, Fidei Defensor. The pope is, in fact, so happy, he makes Henry his favourite king in Europe.-Brilliant relationship with the Pope.
1527: Henry’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, fails to give Henry a male heir. He sends his archbishop to ask the Pope for a divorce with Catherine. The pope refuses and Henry gets angry. Thomas Cranmer is appointed new archbishop.-Uneasy relationship with the Pope.
1534: Henry becomes supreme head of the Church of England. appoints his own rules and laws from the Church of England and made sure that none of his followers were loyal to the Pope.-Bad relationship with the Pope.
1537-1539: Henry closes all the monasteries because others are loyal to the Pope. This gives Henry more power and the Pope weaker. More people protest and Henry has more and more people executed for being loyal to the Pope. The Pope is becoming more weaker and Henry grabs power for himself. The Pope becomes SO ANGRY! He travels all the way to England and challenges Henry to a duel for power! Not really! Popes are not made to fight. I was just joking about the duel. But the Pope becomes FURIOUS! But since he is weak in power, there is not much he can do.- No relationship at all. Pope no longer friend of Henry’s.
1547 Edward VI comes to the throne. The move towards Protestantism gets faster, much quicker than under Henry. The Mass is replaced. The new Protestant Prayer Book is printed.
So, in a short amount of time England went from being the Pope’s favourite and most loyal country to being a Protestant led country. No relationship with the Pope.
Lust, Lies And Empire: The Fishy Tale Behind Eating Fish On Friday
Did the pope really make a secret pact to sell more fish? No, but the real story of eating fish on Fridays is much more fantastical.
It sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown thriller: A powerful medieval pope makes a secret pact to prop up the fishing industry that ultimately alters global economics. The result: Millions of Catholics around the world end up eating fish on Fridays as part of a religious observance.
This "realpolitik" explanation of why Catholics eat fish on Friday has circulated for so long, many people grew up believing it as fact. Some, myself included, even learned it in Catholic school. It's a humdinger of a tale — the kind conspiracy theorists can really sink their teeth into. But is it true?
"Many people have searched the Vatican archives on this, but they have found nothing," says Brian Fagan, a professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose book, Fish On Friday, explores the impact of this practice on Western culture.
The real economic story behind fish on Fridays turns out to be much better.
Let's start with a quick lesson in theology: According to Christian teaching, Jesus died on a Friday, and his death redeemed a sinful world. People have written of fasting on Friday to commemorate this sacrifice as early as the first century.
Technically, it's the flesh of warmblooded animals that's off limits — an animal "that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will," explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?
Fish are coldblooded, so they're considered fair game. "If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday," Foley tells The Salt, "you could do that, too."
Alas, Christendom never really developed a hankering for snake. But fish — well, they'd been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times. And as the number of meatless days piled up on the medieval Christian calendar — not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other holy days — the hunger for fish grew. Indeed, fish fasting days became central to the growth of the global fishing industry. But not because of a pope and his secret pact.
At first, says Fagan, Christians' religious appetite was largely met with herring, a fish that was plentiful but dry and tasteless when smoked or salted. And preservation was a must in medieval times: There was no good way for fresh fish to reach the devout masses. Eventually, cod became all the rage — it tasted better when cured and it lasted longer, too.
The Vikings were ace at preserving cod — they "used dried and salted cod as a form of beef jerky on their ocean passages," Fagan says. And the route the Vikings took at the end of the first millennium — Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland — matches up with the natural range of the Atlantic cod.
It's possible that others may have followed the cod trail to Canada before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Clues suggest that English fishermen from Bristol may have made the voyage by around 1480 but kept mum on the location lest the competition rush in. By some accounts, both Columbus and John Cabot had heard of these adventures when they set off on their own epic journeys west.
"Why do people go over the horizon?" Fagan says. "In the case of the North Atlantic after the Norse . they went looking for cod" to satiate the demands of the faithful.
So that's the empire part of our saga. Funny enough, while the pope story is a fish tale, an official leader of a church did make fish fasting the law for purely practical reasons. For that story — and the lust our headline promised — we turn to a monarch known for his carnal cravings: Henry VIII.
By the time Henry ascended the throne in 1509, fish dominated the menu for a good part of the year. As one 15th century English schoolboy lamented in his notebook: "Though wyll not beleve how werey I am off fysshe, and how moch I desir to that flesch were cum in ageyn."
But after Henry became smitten with Anne Boleyn, English fish-eating took a nosedive.
You see, Henry was desperate with desire for Anne — but Anne wanted a wedding ring. The problem was, Henry already had a wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the pope refused to annul that decades' long marriage. So Henry broke off from the Roman Catholic Church, declared himself the head of the Church of England and divorced Catherine so he could marry Anne.
Suddenly, eating fish became political. Fish was seen as a " 'popish flesh' that lost favour as fast as Anglicism took root," as Kate Colquhoun recounts in her book Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking.
Fishermen were hurting. So much so that when Henry's young son, Edward VI, took over in 1547, fast days were reinstated by law — "for worldly and civil policy, to spare flesh, and use fish, for the benefit of the commonwealth, where many be fishers, and use the trade of living."
In fact, fish fasting remained surprisingly influential in global economics well into the 20th century.
As one economic analysis noted, U.S. fish prices plummeted soon after Pope Paul VI loosened fasting rules in the 1960s. The Friday meat ban, by the way, still applies to the 40 days of the Lenten fast.
A few years before the Vatican relaxed the rules, Lou Groen, an enterprising McDonald's franchise owner in a largely Catholic part of Cincinnati, found himself struggling to sell burgers on Fridays. His solution? The Filet-O-Fish.
While not exactly the miracle of loaves and fishes, Groen's little battered sandwich has fed millions around the world.
The Most Corrupt and Scandalous Papacies in History
Papal corruption throughout history is a fact of the existence of the Church of Rome, and which is, figuratively speaking, swept under the bed. But it is barely hidden. It was the corruption of the Church&rsquos highest office which led to the evolution of Protestantism, the excesses of the Inquisition, and to a large extent the cover up of the sex scandals of the twentieth century and more recent years. The Church still maintains vast wealth, always a source of corruption, in the form of cash, property, and art. Once a dominant figure in European politics, the role of the papacy has become less powerful in politics, but no less influential to the world&rsquos Catholics.
Pope Francis arrives at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington DC during a visit to the United States in 2015. US Air Force
As recently as 2017 Pope Francis admitted the existence of corruption in the Vatican, though he expressed himself as being &ldquoat peace&rdquo. The admission to the gathering of leaders of male religious orders worldwide was little noted, and the Pope did not elaborate on what he referred to in his statement. Instead he stressed the need, rather than citing doctrine in rebuke, to &ldquolisten and persuade&rdquo. Though the Pope was unclear on what he considered to be corruption in the current Church, there is no lack of clarity when regarding that of some of his predecessors in his office, who exhibited corruption and depravity on a truly epic scale.
Here is a list of papal corruption through history which wasn&rsquot presented in the history books in school, and which in many cases is truly shocking.
The trial of a dead predecessor &ndash with the corpse present &ndash was a feature of the papacy of Stephen VI. Wikimedia
1. Stephen VI tried and had mutilated the dead body of a predecessor, with the late Pope present at trial
During the ninth century, the office of the papacy was disputed, for political reasons, by powerful factions and families in Italy. One of the most powerful was the Spoleto family, the head of which was the Duke of Spoleto. The family ruled nearly all of central Italy outside of the Papal States, which was the temporal kingdom of the Pope. Stephen VI was elected to the Papacy with their support, possibly against his expressed wishes, having served as the Bishop of Anagni. The House of Spoleto pressured Stephen to try Pope Formosus, dead for over a year, for his actions against their family while Pope.
The dead body of Formosus was disinterred and brought before a court which became known as the Cadaver Synod. Formosus was charged with performing the acts of a priest after having been excommunicated (disregarding his reinstatement by Pope Marinus) because the House of Spoleto had suffered at his hands, and their control of the sitting pope gave them the opportunity for revenge. Incited by Stephen VI, Formosus was condemned of having acted in a manner unworthy of his office, the three fingers the pope traditionally raised in blessing were removed from the corpse, and the body was disposed of in the Tiber River.
3. Medicinal improvements
Other innovations have proved just as enduring. in 1518 Henry,turned his attention to the medical profession.
To that point apothecaries and physicians practised without any regulation. Quacks and scammers offered medical services to desperate members of the community who fell ill.
Henry changed this. by Royal Decree he established what would become the Royal College of Physicians, and followed that up with an act of parliament which remains in force today.
This body now granted licenses to those qualified to practice and punish those who were not. They also introduced the first standards for malpractice. It was a first step on dragging Medicine away from superstition and setting on the path to becoming a scientific pursuit.
Despite breaking with Rome and overthrowing the authority of the Pope, Henry never became a Protestant himself. However, Edward VI, the son he eventually had with this third wife Jane Seymour, was raised Protestant.
Edward VI, by an unknown artist after William Scrots, (c) National Portrait Gallery, London
Born on 28 June 1491 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, Kent, Henry Tudor was the third child and second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.  Of the young Henry's six (or seven) siblings, only three – his brother Arthur, Prince of Wales, and sisters Margaret and Mary – survived infancy.  He was baptised by Richard Foxe, the Bishop of Exeter, at a church of the Observant Franciscans close to the palace.  In 1493, at the age of two, Henry was appointed Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. He was subsequently appointed Earl Marshal of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at age three and was made a Knight of the Bath soon after. The day after the ceremony, he was created Duke of York and a month or so later made Warden of the Scottish Marches. In May 1495, he was appointed to the Order of the Garter. The reason for giving such appointments to a small child was to enable his father to retain personal control of lucrative positions and not share them with established families.  Not much is known about Henry's early life – save for his appointments – because he was not expected to become king,  but it is known that he received a first-rate education from leading tutors. He became fluent in Latin and French and learned at least some Italian.  
In November 1501, Henry played a considerable part in the ceremonies surrounding his brother Arthur's marriage to Catherine, the youngest child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.  As Duke of York, Henry used the arms of his father as king, differenced by a label of three points ermine. He was further honoured on 9 February 1506 by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who made him a Knight of the Golden Fleece. 
In 1502, Arthur died at the age of 15, possibly of sweating sickness,  just 20 weeks after his marriage to Catherine.  Arthur's death thrust all his duties upon his younger brother. The 10-year-old Henry became the new Duke of Cornwall, and the new Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in February 1504.  Henry VII gave his second son few responsibilities even after the death of Arthur. Young Henry was strictly supervised and did not appear in public. As a result, he ascended the throne "untrained in the exacting art of kingship". 
Henry VII renewed his efforts to seal a marital alliance between England and Spain, by offering his son Henry in marriage to the widowed Catherine.  Both Henry VII and Isabella, Catherine's mother, were keen on the idea, which had arisen very shortly after Arthur's death.  On 23 June 1503, a treaty was signed for their marriage, and they were betrothed two days later.  A papal dispensation was only needed for the "impediment of public honesty" if the marriage had not been consummated as Catherine and her duenna claimed, but Henry VII and the Spanish ambassador set out instead to obtain a dispensation for "affinity", which took account of the possibility of consummation.  Cohabitation was not possible because Henry was too young.  Isabella's death in 1504, and the ensuing problems of succession in Castile, complicated matters. Catherine's father Ferdinand preferred her to stay in England, but Henry VII's relations with Ferdinand had deteriorated.  Catherine was therefore left in limbo for some time, culminating in Prince Henry's rejection of the marriage as soon he was able, at the age of 14. Ferdinand's solution was to make his daughter ambassador, allowing her to stay in England indefinitely. Devout, she began to believe that it was God's will that she marry the prince despite his opposition. 
Henry VII died on 21 April 1509, and the 17-year-old Henry succeeded him as king. Soon after his father's burial on 10 May, Henry suddenly declared that he would indeed marry Catherine, leaving unresolved several issues concerning the papal dispensation and a missing part of the marriage portion.   The new king maintained that it had been his father's dying wish that he marry Catherine.  Whether or not this was true, it was certainly convenient. Emperor Maximilian I had been attempting to marry his granddaughter Eleanor, Catherine's niece, to Henry she had now been jilted.  Henry's wedding to Catherine was kept low-key and was held at the friar's church in Greenwich on 11 June 1509. 
On 23 June 1509, Henry led the now 23-year-old Catherine from the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey for their coronation, which took place the following day.  It was a grand affair: the king's passage was lined with tapestries and laid with fine cloth.  Following the ceremony, there was a grand banquet in Westminster Hall.  As Catherine wrote to her father, "our time is spent in continuous festival". 
Two days after his coronation, Henry arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They were charged with high treason and were executed in 1510. Politically motivated executions would remain one of Henry's primary tactics for dealing with those who stood in his way.  Henry also returned some of the money supposedly extorted by the two ministers.  By contrast, Henry's view of the House of York – potential rival claimants for the throne – was more moderate than his father's had been. Several who had been imprisoned by his father, including Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset, were pardoned.  Others went unreconciled Edmund de la Pole was eventually beheaded in 1513, an execution prompted by his brother Richard siding against the king. 
Soon after marrying Henry, Catherine conceived. She gave birth to a stillborn girl on 31 January 1510. About four months later, Catherine again became pregnant.  On 1 January 1511, New Year's Day, a son Henry was born. After the grief of losing their first child, the couple were pleased to have a boy and festivities were held,  including a two-day joust known as the Westminster Tournament. However, the child died seven weeks later.  Catherine had two stillborn sons in 1513 and 1515, but gave birth in February 1516 to a girl, Mary. Relations between Henry and Catherine had been strained, but they eased slightly after Mary's birth. 
Although Henry's marriage to Catherine has since been described as "unusually good",  it is known that Henry took mistresses. It was revealed in 1510 that Henry had been conducting an affair with one of the sisters of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, either Elizabeth or Anne Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon.  The most significant mistress for about three years, starting in 1516, was Elizabeth Blount.  Blount is one of only two completely undisputed mistresses, considered by some to be few for a virile young king.   Exactly how many Henry had is disputed: David Loades believes Henry had mistresses "only to a very limited extent",  whilst Alison Weir believes there were numerous other affairs.  Catherine is not known to have protested. In 1518 she fell pregnant again with another girl, who was also stillborn. 
Blount gave birth in June 1519 to Henry's illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy.  The young boy was made Duke of Richmond in June 1525 in what some thought was one step on the path to his eventual legitimisation.  In 1533, FitzRoy married Mary Howard, but died childless three years later.  At the time of his death in June 1536, Parliament was considering the Second Succession Act, which could have allowed him to become king. 
In 1510, France, with a fragile alliance with the Holy Roman Empire in the League of Cambrai, was winning a war against Venice. Henry renewed his father's friendship with Louis XII of France, an issue that divided his council. Certainly, war with the combined might of the two powers would have been exceedingly difficult.  Shortly thereafter, however, Henry also signed a pact with Ferdinand II of Aragon. After Pope Julius II created the anti-French Holy League in October 1511,  Henry followed Ferdinand's lead and brought England into the new League. An initial joint Anglo-Spanish attack was planned for the spring to recover Aquitaine for England, the start of making Henry's dreams of ruling France a reality.  The attack, however, following a formal declaration of war in April 1512, was not led by Henry personally  and was a considerable failure Ferdinand used it simply to further his own ends, and it strained the Anglo-Spanish alliance. Nevertheless, the French were pushed out of Italy soon after, and the alliance survived, with both parties keen to win further victories over the French.   Henry then pulled off a diplomatic coup by convincing Emperor Maximilian to join the Holy League.  Remarkably, Henry had also secured the promised title of "Most Christian King of France" from Julius and possibly coronation by the Pope himself in Paris, if only Louis could be defeated. 
On 30 June 1513, Henry invaded France, and his troops defeated a French army at the Battle of the Spurs – a relatively minor result, but one which was seized on by the English for propaganda purposes. Soon after, the English took Thérouanne and handed it over to Maximillian Tournai, a more significant settlement, followed.  Henry had led the army personally, complete with a large entourage.  His absence from the country, however, had prompted his brother-in-law James IV of Scotland to invade England at the behest of Louis.  Nevertheless, the English army, overseen by Queen Catherine, decisively defeated the Scots at the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513.  Among the dead was the Scottish king, thus ending Scotland's brief involvement in the war.  These campaigns had given Henry a taste of the military success he so desired. However, despite initial indications, he decided not to pursue a 1514 campaign. He had been supporting Ferdinand and Maximilian financially during the campaign but had received little in return England's coffers were now empty.  With the replacement of Julius by Pope Leo X, who was inclined to negotiate for peace with France, Henry signed his own treaty with Louis: his sister Mary would become Louis' wife, having previously been pledged to the younger Charles, and peace was secured for eight years, a remarkably long time. 
Charles V, the nephew of Henry's wife Catherine, inherited a large empire in Europe, becoming King of Spain in 1516 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1519. When Louis XII of France died in 1515, he was succeeded by his cousin Francis I.  These accessions left three relatively young rulers and an opportunity for a clean slate. The careful diplomacy of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey had resulted in the Treaty of London in 1518, aimed at uniting the kingdoms of western Europe in the wake of a new Ottoman threat, and it seemed that peace might be secured.  Henry met the new French king, Francis, on 7 June 1520 at the Field of the Cloth of Gold near Calais for a fortnight of lavish entertainment. Both hoped for friendly relations in place of the wars of the previous decade. The strong air of competition laid to rest any hopes of a renewal of the Treaty of London, however, and conflict was inevitable.  Henry had more in common with Charles, whom he met once before and once after Francis. Charles brought his realm into war with France in 1521 Henry offered to mediate, but little was achieved and by the end of the year Henry had aligned England with Charles. He still clung to his previous aim of restoring English lands in France but also sought to secure an alliance with Burgundy, then a territorial possession of Charles, and the continued support of the Emperor.  A small English attack in the north of France made up little ground. Charles defeated and captured Francis at Pavia and could dictate peace, but he believed he owed Henry nothing. Sensing this, Henry decided to take England out of the war before his ally, signing the Treaty of the More on 30 August 1525. 
Annulment from Catherine
During his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Henry conducted an affair with Mary Boleyn, Catherine's lady-in-waiting. There has been speculation that Mary's two children, Henry Carey and Catherine Carey, were fathered by Henry, but this has never been proved, and the King never acknowledged them as he did in the case of Henry FitzRoy.  In 1525, as Henry grew more impatient with Catherine's inability to produce the male heir he desired,   he became enamoured of Boleyn's sister, Anne Boleyn, then a charismatic young woman of 25 in the Queen's entourage.  Anne, however, resisted his attempts to seduce her, and refused to become his mistress as her sister had.  [nb 1] It was in this context that Henry considered his three options for finding a dynastic successor and hence resolving what came to be described at court as the King's "great matter". These options were legitimising Henry FitzRoy, which would need the involvement of the pope and would be open to challenge marrying off Mary as soon as possible and hoping for a grandson to inherit directly, but Mary was considered unlikely to conceive before Henry's death, or somehow rejecting Catherine and marrying someone else of child-bearing age. Probably seeing the possibility of marrying Anne, the third was ultimately the most attractive possibility to the 34-year-old Henry,  and it soon became the King's absorbing desire to annul his marriage to the now 40-year-old Catherine.  It was a decision that would lead Henry to reject papal authority and initiate the English Reformation. [ citation needed ]
Henry's precise motivations and intentions over the coming years are not widely agreed on.  Henry himself, at least in the early part of his reign, was a devout and well-informed Catholic to the extent that his 1521 publication Assertio Septem Sacramentorum ("Defence of the Seven Sacraments") earned him the title of Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith) from Pope Leo X.  The work represented a staunch defence of papal supremacy, albeit one couched in somewhat contingent terms.  It is not clear exactly when Henry changed his mind on the issue as he grew more intent on a second marriage. Certainly, by 1527, he had convinced himself that Catherine had produced no male heir because their union was "blighted in the eyes of God".  Indeed, in marrying Catherine, his brother's wife, he had acted contrary to Leviticus 20:21, a justification Thomas Cranmer used to declare the marriage null.  [nb 2] Martin Luther, on the other hand, had initially argued against the annulment, stating that Henry VIII could take a second wife in accordance with his teaching that the Bible allowed for polygamy but not divorce.  Henry now believed the Pope had lacked the authority to grant a dispensation from this impediment. It was this argument Henry took to Pope Clement VII in 1527 in the hope of having his marriage to Catherine annulled, forgoing at least one less openly defiant line of attack.  In going public, all hope of tempting Catherine to retire to a nunnery or otherwise stay quiet was lost.  Henry sent his secretary, William Knight, to appeal directly to the Holy See by way of a deceptively worded draft papal bull. Knight was unsuccessful the Pope could not be misled so easily. 
Other missions concentrated on arranging an ecclesiastical court to meet in England, with a representative from Clement VII. Although Clement agreed to the creation of such a court, he never had any intention of empowering his legate, Lorenzo Campeggio, to decide in Henry's favour.  This bias was perhaps the result of pressure from Emperor Charles V, Catherine's nephew, but it is not clear how far this influenced either Campeggio or the Pope. After less than two months of hearing evidence, Clement called the case back to Rome in July 1529, from which it was clear that it would never re-emerge.  With the chance for an annulment lost, Cardinal Wolsey bore the blame. He was charged with praemunire in October 1529,  and his fall from grace was "sudden and total".  Briefly reconciled with Henry (and officially pardoned) in the first half of 1530, he was charged once more in November 1530, this time for treason, but died while awaiting trial.   After a short period in which Henry took government upon his own shoulders,  Sir Thomas More took on the role of Lord Chancellor and chief minister. Intelligent and able, but also a devout Catholic and opponent of the annulment,  More initially cooperated with the king's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament. 
A year later, Catherine was banished from court, and her rooms were given to Anne. Anne was an unusually educated and intellectual woman for her time and was keenly absorbed and engaged with the ideas of the Protestant Reformers, but the extent to which she herself was a committed Protestant is much debated.  When Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham died, Anne's influence and the need to find a trustworthy supporter of the annulment had Thomas Cranmer appointed to the vacant position.  This was approved by the Pope, unaware of the King's nascent plans for the Church. 
Henry was married to Catherine for 24 years. Their divorce has been described as a "deeply wounding and isolating" experience for Henry. 
Marriage to Anne Boleyn
In the winter of 1532, Henry met with Francis I at Calais and enlisted the support of the French king for his new marriage.  Immediately upon returning to Dover in England, Henry, now 41, and Anne went through a secret wedding service.  She soon became pregnant, and there was a second wedding service in London on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Cranmer, sitting in judgment at a special court convened at Dunstable Priory to rule on the validity of the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and void. Five days later, on 28 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be valid.  Catherine was formally stripped of her title as queen, becoming instead "princess dowager" as the widow of Arthur. In her place, Anne was crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533.  The queen gave birth to a daughter slightly prematurely on 7 September 1533. The child was christened Elizabeth, in honour of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York. 
Following the marriage, there was a period of consolidation, taking the form of a series of statutes of the Reformation Parliament aimed at finding solutions to any remaining issues, whilst protecting the new reforms from challenge, convincing the public of their legitimacy, and exposing and dealing with opponents.  Although the canon law was dealt with at length by Cranmer and others, these acts were advanced by Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Audley and the Duke of Norfolk and indeed by Henry himself.  With this process complete, in May 1532 More resigned as Lord Chancellor, leaving Cromwell as Henry's chief minister.  With the Act of Succession 1533, Catherine's daughter, Mary, was declared illegitimate Henry's marriage to Anne was declared legitimate and Anne's issue declared to be next in the line of succession.  With the Acts of Supremacy in 1534, Parliament also recognised the King's status as head of the church in England and, together with the Act in Restraint of Appeals in 1532, abolished the right of appeal to Rome.  It was only then that Pope Clement took the step of excommunicating Henry and Thomas Cranmer, although the excommunication was not made official until some time later. [nb 3]
The king and queen were not pleased with married life. The royal couple enjoyed periods of calm and affection, but Anne refused to play the submissive role expected of her. The vivacity and opinionated intellect that had made her so attractive as an illicit lover made her too independent for the largely ceremonial role of a royal wife and it made her many enemies. For his part, Henry disliked Anne's constant irritability and violent temper. After a false pregnancy or miscarriage in 1534, he saw her failure to give him a son as a betrayal. As early as Christmas 1534, Henry was discussing with Cranmer and Cromwell the chances of leaving Anne without having to return to Catherine.  Henry is traditionally believed to have had an affair with Margaret ("Madge") Shelton in 1535, although historian Antonia Fraser argues that Henry in fact had an affair with her sister Mary Shelton. 
Opposition to Henry's religious policies was quickly suppressed in England. A number of dissenting monks, including the first Carthusian Martyrs, were executed and many more pilloried. The most prominent resisters included John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, both of whom refused to take the oath to the King.  Neither Henry nor Cromwell sought at that stage to have the men executed rather, they hoped that the two might change their minds and save themselves. Fisher openly rejected Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church, but More was careful to avoid openly breaking the Treasons Act of 1534, which (unlike later acts) did not forbid mere silence. Both men were subsequently convicted of high treason, however – More on the evidence of a single conversation with Richard Rich, the Solicitor General, and both were executed in the summer of 1535. 
These suppressions, as well as the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act of 1536, in turn contributed to more general resistance to Henry's reforms, most notably in the Pilgrimage of Grace, a large uprising in northern England in October 1536.  Some 20,000 to 40,000 rebels were led by Robert Aske, together with parts of the northern nobility.  Henry VIII promised the rebels he would pardon them and thanked them for raising the issues. Aske told the rebels they had been successful and they could disperse and go home.  Henry saw the rebels as traitors and did not feel obliged to keep his promises to them, so when further violence occurred after Henry's offer of a pardon he was quick to break his promise of clemency.  The leaders, including Aske, were arrested and executed for treason. In total, about 200 rebels were executed, and the disturbances ended. 
Execution of Anne Boleyn
On 8 January 1536, news reached the king and the queen that Catherine of Aragon had died. The following day, Henry dressed all in yellow, with a white feather in his bonnet.  The queen was pregnant again, and she was aware of the consequences if she failed to give birth to a son. Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and was badly injured it seemed for a time that his life was in danger. When news of this accident reached the queen, she was sent into shock and miscarried a male child at about 15 weeks' gestation, on the day of Catherine's funeral, 29 January 1536.  For most observers, this personal loss was the beginning of the end of this royal marriage. 
Although the Boleyn family still held important positions on the Privy Council, Anne had many enemies, including the Duke of Suffolk. Even her own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, had come to resent her attitude to her power. The Boleyns preferred France over the Emperor as a potential ally, but the King's favour had swung towards the latter (partly because of Cromwell), damaging the family's influence.  Also opposed to Anne were supporters of reconciliation with Princess Mary (among them the former supporters of Catherine), who had reached maturity. A second annulment was now a real possibility, although it is commonly believed that it was Cromwell's anti-Boleyn influence that led opponents to look for a way of having her executed.  
Anne's downfall came shortly after she had recovered from her final miscarriage. Whether it was primarily the result of allegations of conspiracy, adultery, or witchcraft remains a matter of debate among historians.  Early signs of a fall from grace included the King's new mistress, the 28-year-old Jane Seymour, being moved into new quarters,  and Anne's brother, George Boleyn, being refused the Order of the Garter, which was instead given to Nicholas Carew.  Between 30 April and 2 May, five men, including Anne's brother George, were arrested on charges of treasonable adultery and accused of having sexual relationships with the queen. Anne was also arrested, accused of treasonous adultery and incest. Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May 1536.  Henry and Anne's marriage was annulled by Archbishop Cranmer at Lambeth on the same day.  Cranmer appears to have had difficulty finding grounds for an annulment and probably based it on the prior liaison between Henry and Anne's sister Mary, which in canon law meant that Henry's marriage to Anne was, like his first marriage, within a forbidden degree of affinity and therefore void.  At 8 am on 19 May 1536, Anne was executed on Tower Green. 
6. He Was A Lazy Teenager
If you had known Henry back then, you probably wouldn’t have thought he’d make a good king. He liked to sleep in, he hated work and school, and he only ever wanted to go hunting or hawking. Even in his youth, he spent his nights gambling, drinking, dancing, and playing cards. Maybe people hoped that when he became king, he’d finally learn some responsibility. If anything, he only got worse.
After the execution of the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, Henry’s pre-eminent advisors favoured reform. A Parliament convened to deal with the annulment provided an opportunity for these reformists to be heard.
Thomas Cromwell was a prominent figure, who was opposed to the theology of Rome. He and Anne Boleyn wanted Henry to simply ignore the Pope, yet this was advised against by a meeting of lawyers and clergy.
Thus Henry piled increasing pressure on the clergy, and through a series of acts asserted Royal supremacy over the Church. This culminated in the 1534 Act of Supremacy followed shortly by the Treasons Act. These granted him sovereignty over the Church in England and made disavowing this treason.
Here are a few key thoughts on Anglican historical development which may place Henry VIII and the Anglican Church in context:
Ecclesia Anglicana before Henry VIII – it is ancient!
The words ‘Anglican Church’ derive from the Latin term Ecclesia Anglicana which for centuries before Henry VIII simply meant the English Church. As such, it was connected to the Church elsewhere, but not simply the Roman Church. It dates back as far as the Roman Empire, at least to the early third century. Later, Celtic Christian missionaries were also active in northern England long before Pope Gregory sent Augustine on a mission to bring the Christian faith to pagan peoples in southern England. Indeed there was significant tension between the more indigenous Celtic and Roman Church understandings of some key issues, until these were resolved, in Rome’s favour, at the Synod of Whitby in 664. Over the centuries between then and Henry VIII, there also continued to be different perspectives, not least regarding papal power over appointments and payments. Churches and their lives were also founded by a range of institutions and English inspirations, linked to the Church overseas, but also with their own autonomy and distinctiveness. At the Reformation, therefore, the English did not so much create a new Church, as adapt what they had already formed into something appropriate for new circumstances.
The English Reformation – so much more than Henry VIII!
Henry VIII was undoubtedly a key trigger of the English Reformation. Yet this, more than any other form of Reformation, was a very contested process and hardly a single event, uneven over time and place, and (to the eyes of both other Reformers and Catholics), very untidy. Henry’s only real interest was political, seeking to secure stability through a divorce to allow him a male heir. When the Pope resisted, this then gave Henry the chance to gain greater leadership of the English Church and to seize control of much money and land, chiefly through closing monasteries. It should be noted, however, that other contemporary monarchs, not least the Spanish Catholics, had also taken much control of the Church in their lands and that other Reformed Churches relied very heavily on the support of ‘godly’ princes or councils for their very existence. Henry also remained a determined Catholic in his thinking, so the real work of reshaping the doctrine, order and worship of the English Church was not his, but those who came later. So he may have made a break from Roman authority, but it is to Archbishop Cranmer and other leading divines, and to Elizabeth I’s reign, that we have to look for these changes. Whilst revisionist history in recent decades has rolled back the thesis of an impending Protestant Reformation from below, we should also not underestimate the importance of earlier Reformed ideas and practices, and of martyrs. Other historical factors were also crucial: not least including the unforgiving papal policy and excommunication of Elizabeth I Spanish aggression, attempted invasion, and other Catholic attempts to topple English monarchs and particular (mis)fortunes, such as the short reign of the Catholic Queen Mary and the length of Elizabeth’s.
The development of the Ecclesia Anglicana after the Reformation
No monarch has ever had anything like full control of the Church in England. Just look at Magna Carta, that great English constitutional document, whose first, and (to this day) continuing, clause affirms the freedom of the English Church from intrusion. That is a major reason too why there were bloody Civil Wars in the 17th century. Instead of a straightforward ‘act of state’ by Henry VIII, the Ecclesia Anglicana therefore developed with its unique combination of Reformed and Catholic features, owing much to a wide array of various influences: its own ancient, Celtic and medieval distinctive features and Calvinist, Puritan, Arminian, Latitudinarian, Evangelical, Tractarian, Anglo-Catholic, and later liberal and ecumenical contributions. For the reality of the Anglican Church is that it has always been an evolving phenomenon, with some key moments (such as Henry VIII’s break with Rome), but with no single point of reference other than the Christian Scriptures and tradition and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Indeed, Anglicanism is really an anachronistic term before the 19th century, which might arguably be a better period to date the beginnings of what we now call the worldwide Anglican Communion. In England itself, with a lifting of legal restrictions on Catholics and Nonconformists, the Ecclesia Anglicana became more obviously just one Christian denomination. Elsewhere, as in Australia, the growth of missionary activity formed a much wider and increasingly varied set of Christian churches in different countries who traced their historical connections back to the English tradition. Significantly, however, their foundation was not Henry VIII or his royal successors, but the Archbishop of Canterbury and the way of being Christian embodied in the Book of Common Prayer, which was created after Henry VIII. For, whilst all kinds of different human beings may make a particular contribution, ultimately the true creator of the Anglican Church is, was, and always will be, the love of God in Christ Jesus.
If you found this study interesting and would like to explore Church History more deeply, St Francis College, Milton is offering the subject Early Church History in the first semester of 2019 and two subjects, European Reformations and Anglican Foundations in the second semester of 2019. For more information, please email The Rev’d Dr Jo Inkpin via [email protected]
This feature was first published in The Eagle, the magazine of St John’s Anglican Cathedral.