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Was the Character and Influence of Anne Boleyn the main reason for the English Reformation? Essay

Was the Character and Influence of Anne Boleyn the main reason for the English Reformation? Although Anne Boleyn can be seen as a very major reason for the start of the English Reformation, she herself is not the main reason, there are many other major factors towards the English Reformation, with Anne Boleyn being only one of them. Anne Boleyn could have lead Henry into ideas that lead to the reforms, as it was known that she was a keen reader of and an educated woman, and introduced Henry to the ideas of various protestant writers, such as William Tyndale.

Source 7 could support this, as it portrays Henry as very in love with Anne Boleyn, Campeggio wrote that Henry “thinks nothing but Anne” if Anne introduced any new ideas and books to Henry, it likely that he would have read them and be deeply interested in them as they were introduced to him by his love Anne whom he would do anything for, judging by the way Campeggio writes about him. Also at the time, Henry was still married to Catherine, so Anne introducing these texts to Henry could have been her way of helping her get married with Henry and be her queen.

The author of the source, Cardinal Campeggio was writing reports to contacts In Rome in 1529, this being a time when Henry had quite a tenuous relationship with Rome after they denied Henry’s request to have his marriage with Catherine annulled, so it’s possible that he writing this to discredit Henry as he is openly being in love with someone other than his wife, or he is trying to portray Henry as quite a weak man who has been completely charmed by Anne Boleyn. However, Source 8 does not make mention of Anne Boleyn, and instead puts forward the idea that Henry’s main motivation with his divorce, and by proxy his break with Rome was his desire for a male heir to succeed him, as he believed that he was cursed by God and that he would not father a son if he was still in a “illegitimate” relationship with Catherine, who was his brother’s wife before he died.

This was also Henry’s main argument for the annulment of his marriage with Anne, as it states in Leviticus that “If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless” and that “he had no option as a devout Christian but to obey”. Because of this, it is entirely possible that even if there was no Anne Boleyn, his request for an annulment would still happen, and it could still lead to the English reformation as his main reason for doing so was so that he could legally divorce his wife.

It could be argued however Henry might not have been introduced to protestant ideas as Anne was the one who introduced him to the various Protestant writer’s works which might have inspired him to break with Rome.

Source 9 has a very different point of view when it comes to the break with Rome and the English reformation. The source argues that the anticlericalism within England during that period helped Henry break with Rome as it provided an environment in which a “break from the power of the Pope was at least conceivable” However, they don’t deny that Anne Boleyn had a part in the reformation, and that her acquaintance with the various protestant writers of the times influenced Henry, using their ideas as they clearly suited his own, contrasting with the other sources, which sort of insinuate that Anne had a kind of complete control over Henry, as it is makes out that Henry was completely enamoured with Anne and “thinks nothing but Anne”.

In conclusion, although it can be definitely seen that Anne played a major part in the reformation, and can be considered a key factor in the reformation, she was not the main factor, as Henry would not have been able to even consider a break with Rome if there not the anticlerical attitude that was felt within England against the Catholic church as it was quite a risky move to begin with already as the countries of Europe would have had a reason to attack Henry as a heretic. Henry’s desire for a son is also another main reason for the reformation, as that could be argued as one of his main reasons to divorce from Catherine and marry Anne.

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