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Henry VIII

Henry VIII succeeded his father, Henry VII. His succession was easier than his father who had fought a war to win the throne. He was the ideal Renaissance monarch, since he was scholar, musician, sportsman and poet. The most important event during his reign was the breach with Rome. He separated the Church of England from Rome for both political and personal reasons. After his brother’s death, he married hi brother’s widow, Catherine, who gave him a daughter. But he wanted a male heir and Catherine did not give him a son. He had also fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, a lady-in-waiting of the queen, and Henry asked the Pope for the divorce to marry her. But Pope Clement VII refused. The king did not accept Pope’s authority and decided to solve the question through the English clergy and English parliament. He replaced his chancellor by Thomas More and made Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury. So his first marriage was declared void and he could marry Anne Boleyn. In 1534 an Act of Parliament, called the Act of Supremacy, declared the king “Only Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England”. Thomas More, who had accepted king’s divorce, did not accept the repudiation of the Pope’s authority in religion matters. He was imprisoned into the Tower of London and in 1535 he died on the scaffold. In 1536 papal authority in England was declared extinct.

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