A Conversation for King Henry VIII

Defender of the Faith

Post 1

whitec

Back in 1521, Henry VIII wrote Assertio Septem Sacramentorum, a bestselling book (several thousand copies) attacking Luther's five year old theses and defending Catholic teaching of the sacraments. Pope Leo X rewarded him with the title fidei defensor (defender of the faith) for this effort.

Not only did Henry keep this title after splitting with Rome (due to his insistence on getting a divorce during the later Pope Clement VII's reign), the English monarchy kept it as a part of its hereditary title. It still appears in abbreviation on British coins: FD. This insistence by protestant monarchs on keeping the title fidei defensor always struck me as somewhat strange.


Defender of the Faith

Post 2

B&L

I think this has something to do with Henry's general like for Catholic ways of doing things, with the simple exception of divorce. If you follow the development of the protestant church, it remained extremely similar in most respects (eg. grand churchs, complex ceremonys, use of Latin) under the rule of Henry VII. Whether this is linked to his guilt over the split or something else I don't know. Anyway, it was the people who ruled the country under Edward after his death that brought in the reforms people traditionally associate with the Reformation.


Defender of the Faith

Post 3

whitec

Yes, I think so. Henry didn't seem to care much about protestantism apart from the fact that he could get himself a divorce. I think Anne Boleyn (2nd wife, divorce-motivation and mother of Elizabeth I) was more protestant than Henry; perhaps she suggested the divorce.


Defender of the Faith

Post 4

McKay The Disorganised

There was also the political element in that the Cathiloc church had very firm views on the political makeup of Europe and expected Sovereigns to ensure they were met - Henry disagreed with Rome's plans for Europe.

There was also a financial element - churches owned the best land, levied tithes, and had some rather nice heavy metals.

smiley - cider


Defender of the Faith

Post 5

Montana Redhead (now with letters)

Although not the expert on Henry that a friend of mine is (congrats, ev, on your fine exam performance...now go write the damned dissertation), I think part of the issue with Henry is that he was concerned that if he didn't produce a male heir, and the Roman church was still heavily involved in the country's affairs, that his one female heir would be forced to marry someone, perhaps a prince of Spain or France, that would destroy England's independence.

Thinking about that, could you see Elizabeth actually putting up with it?!


Defender of the Faith

Post 6

whitec

Getting a male heir was definitely one of Henry's motivations for a divorce.

Mary I, his first daughter actually DID marry a Spanish prince Philip. But then, she was a catholic and the offspring of Henry's first marriage. The succession was Henry VIII, Edward VI (son of 3d marriage between Henry and Jane Seymour) protestant, Mary I (eldest daughter from 1st marriage between Henry and Katherine of Aragon) catholic, Elizabeth I (youngest daughter from 2nd marriage between Henry and Anne Boleyn).

None of Edward, Mary or Elizabeth had any children of their own, and so the House of Tudor ended and succession then passed to a distant relative, King James of Scotland (House of Stuart). Religious maneuvering continued for quite a bit longer.

Mary was pretty unpopular, not only because of her religion, but also because she married a foreigner who was perceived as trying to take over (Well, that's my take on it, anyway). Elizabeth never married at all and stayed popular throughout her reign. Perhaps she learned from her elder sister's mistakes. If she had married a foreign protestant king, I don't think that would have been very popular in England either.


Defender of the Faith

Post 7

Paully

Excellent comments everyone - this Topic of the Week seems to be generating some fantastic stuff! smiley - ok

Paully


Defender of the Faith

Post 8

Montana Redhead (now with letters)

If I remember correctly, after Henry broke with Rome, he specifically removed Mary and Phillip from the succession because of their Catholicism. He understood the concern that Spain was becoming a bit too covetous of England, and he essentially married Mary to Philip to stall for time.


Defender of the Faith

Post 9

B&L

In that case, it wasn't so much defender of the faith as defender from Spain? Then again, this is before the seperation of church and state in any country so its hardly surprising. If anything, Mary really was the oddest thing to come out of Henry's period, absolutely broke the pattern of the monarchs before and after her.


Defender of the Faith

Post 10

Phoenician Trader

Henry was against divorce as much as the Pope was. However, Clement of Rome suggested that bigamy was the most appropriate solution to his marriage woes with Catherine of Aragon. Clement offered Henry a papal dispensation (to match the one Henry had for his marriage with his dead brother's wife) to allow for him to marry Anne B while remaining married to Catherine.

Luther agreed with the Pope (divorce: never, bigamy: why not). Henry who was a clever (if amateur theologian) arguably never forgave Rome or Luther for their crass stupidity.

smiley - lighthouse


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