Henry VIII: Part I: Separating Religion and Rule in the 1500s

Henry VIII is a fascinating figure in history that not only married a lot of wives, but also bent not only royal rules, but also religious rules so that he could marry who he wanted. In this article, you will learn how Henry influenced religion during his time and some of the changes in history that came as a result.

In his prime, Henry was an attractive man with a lot of charisma. He achieved a great deal and was full of education. Henry ruled with absolute power. Henry wanted to provide England with a male heir, which led to his many wives. He believed that a daughter would not have the capacity to uphold the Tudor Dynasty and keep peace among the people. To ensure he was able to remarry, he used the English Reformation to his advantage. England transformed into a predominately Protestant nation as a result. In his later years, the king was no longer the dashing suitor, but one that was insecure and with failing health, including syphilis.

Henry Becomes King

After Henry VII dies, his son Henry VII takes the widow of his brother, Catherine of Aragon, as his wife in 1509. During his days, kings were expected to produce male heirs to the throne, and Catherine was not living up to his expectations.

In 1517, Martin Luther makes a protest against the Catholic practice of Indulgences, which was the Catholic practice of pardoning sins in return for a good deed. Many satisfied this requirement by paying a sum of money to the church. Luther gains support for his ideas and Europe starts to see a shift amongst the people. The Protestants are more in favor of Luther’s ideas, while the Catholics oppose his way of thinking. Luther expresses his complaints against the Catholic Church in a document called the 95 thesis. He makes an even more intense statement when he nails it to the door of the church in Wittenburg.

In 1521, Henry VIII writes a book titled, ‘Septum Sacramentorum’. It is within these pages that he speaks in defense of the Catholic religion. This publication is shown to the Pope, who gives Henry the title of Fideo Defensor (better known as Defender of the Faith). This title was based on heredity and is still a part of the monarchy to this day.

The Diet of Nuremburg is observed in November of 1522, which called for the discussion of Martin Luther’s influence and stance regarding religion. A diet is a general gathering of the princes belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. Luther is becoming more of a problem and the Pope reacts by wanting to ban him from the Holy Roman Empire. However, the diet would not allow this to happen because they feared a civil war would erupt. They did come to the agreement to ban the publication of any books and sermons associated with Lutheran beliefs.