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Old April 9th, 2011, 12:58 PM   #1
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Henry VIII Anglicanism: Purely for the sake of divorce or was he really a reformer?


I wonder did the English got their church just because Henry VIII otherwise couldn't get his divorce or was he really a reformer?

If it was just for the sake of divorce and King Henry VIII would never have existed. Would England then still be a Catholic nation?
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Old April 9th, 2011, 04:44 PM   #2

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Yeh I think it is widely agreed it was just so he could get a divorce. The Church of England was very catholicish, despite being a protestant religion. It would seem that Henry didn't have a problem with catholicism, just the pope not annulling his marriage. I think Henry was a bit like Elizabeth where he didn't really care about religion.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 04:54 PM   #3

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Possibly so. But, maybe he felt some remorse or sense of guilt/ responsibility for what he had done, and in later years actually started to try and take a guiding hand in the Anglican Church for its general welfare?

The whole thing reminds of of a twisted (its English, after all) version of David and Bathsheba. Only he didnt have a husband killed. He tore a nation from a Church, and then killed his "Bathsheba".

But I think that England had protestant leanings well before Henrys time.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 10:22 PM   #4

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He mostly just wanted a Catholic church under his control. The "reformation" in England didn't really start until after Henry's death. Lutherans were burned at the stake as much as Catholics at this time.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 11:12 PM   #5

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Not just divorce, he wanted to get his hands on the wealth of the church as well.

The destruction of the monasteries was one of the horrific aspects of his reign. A whole way of life destroyed, and the common people suffered because monasteries provided welfare to the local poor. And thousands of valuable medieval manuscripts were destroyed too. It was a wicked business.

He wasn't really a Protestant though, and persecuted Protestant heretics as well as Catholics who opposed him. Outside of London and the south east, England remained largely Catholic until the reign of Elizabeth I.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 12:54 AM   #6

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I don't think it was just the divorce but I do think it was for political, not spiritual reasons. I truly think Henry considered himself spiritually Catholic his whole life, he just wanted absolute political control in his realm.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 01:43 AM   #7

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Henry was at one time declared Defender of the Faith by the Pope for his book 'Assertio Septem Sacramentorum'...a book supporting, amongst other things, the supremacy of the Pope. Henry was no protestant, and really his own power and advantage are most likely what drove him in all things. Of course his divorce would have played a part in that and one does wonder what would have happened if Henry had been granted an annulment, but afterwards Henry clearly took advantage of the politics of the reformation to add to his own power and wealth.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 06:43 AM   #8

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Initially it was mostly because it was the only way he could get a divorce, but also it flattered his considerable ego that he would be head of the new church.

I don't think he envisaged a protestant reformation, rather an English Catholic church with him at the head. However those around him such as Cromwell and the Boleyn's had other plans. When the money started pouring in from the dissolution of the monastries, drunk on his new wealth and power he got swept into the more radical reform his advisors wanted. Then when the people began to oppose and rebel against him, this hardened him to the reform view.

Basically he agreed to minor reform and got caught in a Tsunami, a better man may have not.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 07:02 AM   #9

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Why did he see the need to destroy the ancient records and manuscripts in the monsateries? Why was that done?
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Old April 10th, 2011, 08:14 AM   #10
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It seems that Henry squandered much of the confiscated wealth of the Monasteries in his 1540s dreams of martial glory. I don't think he had a protestant bone on his body, and he was anxious for alliance with Catholic Emperor Charles V at that time. It was political with Henry.

The dissolution of the Monasteries caused hardship among some common people since those religious houses were where many of them were able to get medical attention (such as it was) and alms. Once the Monasteries were reduced, those important social services went away for the poor. The social disturbances of the late 1540s were one result.

Henry was no reformer, nor IMO was he religious in any serious way. I have always thought of H-viij as a wastrel and an egomaniac. He did substantial harm to the Realm.
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