Absolute Monarchs: King Henry VIII

Categories: EnglandMonarchy

King Henry was an epitome (a perfect example of a particular quality or type) of an absolute ruler. Many reasons support this. First, Henry VIII succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York and founded the Tudor dynasty. Next, Henry left the Catholic Church and caused the separation of it/reformation. Reformation means making changes to something with the intention of setting it back on the right path. Also according to the quote about Reformation, we could know more things, “The Reformation is a much broader event than that singular day.

To be sure, the Reformation began on that day. The Reformation, however, spanned two centuries and encompassed a cast of characters from a variety of nations. Luther may very well be at the center of the Reformation, but he does not stand alone.” Finally, the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s was one of the most revolutionary events. An Absolute Monarch Wields unrestricted political power over the sovereign state and its people.

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King Henry has greatly expanded royal power during his reign. He used charges of treason (which is the crime of betraying one's country), and heresy to quell dissent. People who were accused were were more often executed without formal trial (a formal examination of evidence before a judge), by means of bills of attainder. He also achieved many of his political aims throughout the work of his chief ministers. It gave King Henry the absolute rule over his subjects.

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Henry VIII has an affect on his country with political, social, and religious issues.

To begin with, The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, the House of Lancaster, associated with the Red Rose of Lancaster, and the House of York, whose symbol was the White Rose of York. Eventually, the wars eliminated the male lines of both families. The conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, but there was related fighting before and after this period between the two groups/parties. The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years War, unfolding the structural problems of bastard feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in the House of York's claim to the throne by Richard of York. Historians disagree on which of these factors to identify as the main reason for the wars. Shortly after Henry took the throne, the Earl of Lincoln, a Yorkist sympathizer, put forward Lambert Simnel as an imposter Edward Plantaganet, a potential claimant to the throne. Lincoln's forces were defeated, and he was killed at the Battle of Stoke Field on 16 June 1487, bringing a close to the Wars of the Roses.

In addition, Henry VIII left the Catholic Church because of pope refusing to divorce him from his wife and excommunicating him before marrying Anne Boleyn which also caused the separation of it by King Henry VIII. The Pope still wasn't convinced and remained against granting a divorce to King Henry. This forced Henry to separate the Church in England from the Church in Rome. This split allowed Henry to divorce Catherine of Aragon, before marrying Anne Boleyn in 153. This allowed King Henry VIII to be free of the Catholic Church and marry Anne Boleyn. As head of his own Anglican Church, Henry was no longer had to give in to the pope or the Catholic Church. This caused Henry to be in control and have rule over all political, social, economic, & religious decisions. King Henry was able to do whatever he wanted or pleased with the new Church of England without worrying about the pope refusal. Henry leaving the Catholic Church allowed him to dissolve the Catholic clergy (a body of ordained ministers in a Christian church). This led King Henry to think about dissolving the monasteries which would provide him with a lot of money and land. Henry’s personal circumstances would have driven him to break his Catholic ties & find the Church of England. Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon which didn’t provide him a male heir was leading to an even bigger conflict because of him wanting to marry Anne Boleyn and set their sights on a higher goal, which is not most of the people enjoyed & caused some of their deaths.

Moreover, the dissolution/destruction of the monasteries in the late 1530s was a big event that caused a lot of destruction and hate in England. The dissolution/destruction of monasteries was also referred “Suppression of the Monasteries.” It was in the time period from 1536 & 1541. Henry VIII disbanded monasteries and many more things related to it in England & provided for their former personnel & function. Henry VIII was also given the authority to do this in England & also by the Act if supremacy that was passed by parliament in 1534. The act of Supremacy made him the supreme head of the Church in England, by the first and second suppression act. About 800 monasteries and even more at that time period were demolished for building materials, sold off or reclaimed as Anglican Churches. The dissolution of monasteries lasted about 4 years. According to the quote,”Reformation neither transformed the church, nor was crushed by it. Instead, a de facto partition took shape. One by one, a series of German and Scandinavian cities and territories abolished the Catholic Mass, repudiated the church’s hierarchy, and required preachers to proclaim Luther’s doctrines. A new form of Christianity was starting to come into being, Like all great revolutions, it had created a new world.” Henry’s fruitless and expensive wars that most of them he lost due to the destruction of these monasteries to fund it all to the wars that was fought against France & Scotland was one of the biggest reasons for the destruction of the monasteries.

And, In January of 1536 Henry was unhorsed and injured during a jousting tournament. When news of his accident reached the pregnant Anne, she miscarried, delivering a stillborn son. Henry then spurned her, turning his affections to another woman of his court, Jane Seymour. We could also refer to the quote Henry said, “Whoever leads an auspicious life here and governs the commonwealth rightly, as my most noble father did, who promoted all piety and banished all ignorance, has a most certain way to heaven.” Within six months he had executed Anne for treason and incest and married Jane, who quickly gave him a son (the future Edward IV) but died two weeks later. Henry’s fourth marriage bore similarities to his first. Anne of Cleves was a political bride, chosen to cement an alliance with her brother, the ruler of a Protestant duchy in Germany. The marriage only lasted a few days before Henry had it annulled. He then married Catherine Howard, but two years later she too was beheaded for treason and adultery. In the last years of his reign Henry grew moody, obese and suspicious, hobbled by personal intrigues and by the persistent leg wound from his jousting injury. His final marriage, to the widow Catherine Parr in 1543, saw his reconciliation with Mary and Elizabeth, who were restored to the line of succession.

Also, after Henry’s long ruling period and his death, his daughter Elizabeth came into power and took over his place. Elizabeth’s ruling gave England som stability and also her reign gave grading and exploration a huge increase. Elizabeth have been promoting trading, exploration, and also would have been promoting colonizations, so they could also have more goods coming in that they could export and more likely to make more money. Their very impressive fleet of ships which was the Spanish Armada was sent to overthrow Elizabeth as a protest and heretic was defeated. This was the reason why it was so important to understand what the Anglican Church was, that it was a Protestant group because it had broken away from the Roman Catholic Church while Spain hadn’t. Since Spain was a Roman Catholic, they were saying that Elizabeth was a Protestant heretic which entitled them to go & execute her if they were able to do so. The defeat of the Armada was a big defeat for England, this was a big victory for them, so they were extremely excited about this and Elizabeth go a lot of recognition and fame from this. Elizabeth reigned for 44 years, and this period was known as the Elizabethan age.

At lastly, after Elizabeth died in 1603, things have changed a little bit. So after her 44 years of ruling, the Stewart family ascended to the throne. And the Stuart Period would be marked by conflict. There weren’t any rulers that ruled as long as Elizabeth, so there wasn’t as much stability. Both James I and Charles I that were rulers from the Stewart family butted heads with Parliament over the issue of taxation. So this was a big issue with both of them, they fought with Parliament, and that made things more difficult, that spurred more conflict. There were also continued conflicts between the Puritans, who were followers of John Calvin, the Puritans being another Protestant group that had broken away from the Roman Catholic Church. So there were conflicts between the Puritans and the Anglicans, who were followers of the Church of England, or the Anglican Church, which is what King Henry VIII started whenever he broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. So the Puritans joined with Parliament in opposition to the monarchy because the Puritans were also against the Anglicans. Parliament had been fighting with the Anglicans over taxation, so they joined together, and they opposed the monarchy. And the alliance of Parliament and the Puritans was led by Oliver Cromwell. So when the Puritans and Parliament joined together, they had to pick a leader of their newly formed group, and they chose Oliver Cromwell. His army was successful in deposing and executing King Charles I. And so since that was who was ruling at the time, they defeated the Anglican Ruler, the current ruler of the monarchy, and Cromwell was then installed as Protector of England. So he wasn’t made king like the other monarchs had been, he was named Protector of England, but he was basically ruling England with the help of Parliament. So Cromwell’s rule was undermined by Anglican nobles and clergy. Remember the Anglican King Charles I had been executed in order to put Puritans and Parliament in power.

As can be seen, during the period of absolute monarchs, England started out pretty good. They started out strong with Henry VIII and Elizabeth during the rule of the Tudor family, and Elizabeth gave them a stable period of 44 years where things went pretty smoothly. Elizabeth brought almost half a century of stability after the turmoil of her siblings' short reigns. But after she died, there was a lot of chaos. This chaos continued until finally William and Mary were asked to step in and help rule the country for a while. They still had to work with the ruler, at this time William and Mary, and then as it got turned over to different rulers, Parliament still had to work with them. The Declaration of Rights gave Parliament more power and limited some of the power of the monarchy. This gave England another period of relative tranquility.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Absolute Monarchs: King Henry VIII. (2024, Feb 03). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/absolute-monarchs-king-henry-viii-essay

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