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Henry VIII


Henry’s values and attitude

  • Women inferior to men, reminded women of their places and that have to accept husband views with demur.
  • God had ordered society as it was and sin for anyone to challenge place been assigned.
  • Morality and civilisation depended on maintenance of social distinctions.
  • Time spent of earth was brief interlude to eternal life.=Felt no guilt or sorrow about causing deaths
  • Self discipline and endeavour- servants do work, masters devote time to etter their status. Kings= doing grand deeds, battle, court etc.



        God= super being that rewarded or punished those who followed or roke commandments

        Henry’s position allowed him to make special deals with God

        Believed he must fight wars for valour like predecessors

        Courtly love at first, giving gifts from war to his ‘fair lady’ to be rewarded with kissing her hand. Love later wavers

        Honour: king should be obeyed and never under influence of others



Key people


Attitude of king


Sire Thomas lovell, archbishop warham, bishop john fisher, thomad howard, sir john heron, bishop Richard foz

  • Councils early policies had no continuity
  • Majority of henry viii bonds were maintained until 1520
  • Coundil didn’t want an aggressive foreign policy
  • Executed empson and dudley

War good opportunity to show off

Courting popularity



Wolsey and Thomas cromwell

  • 1516+ court of star chamber
  • court of chancery
  • act of resumption 1515
  • subsidy
  • amicable grant 1525
  • balance sheet
  • eltham ordinances 1526
  • the church
  • enclosures 1517
  • law and order 1540 (abolition of sanctuary)
  • 1536 court of argumentations
  • administration
  • privy council 1536
  • act of union 1536
  • council of the north 1536

Henry knew wolsey  not perfect



Why was he able to rise to the top of political world?

  • Outstandingly able
  • Possessed very fine mind
  • Character and personality marked him out
  • Possessed drive and confidence necessary to seize opportunities that came his way
  • Afraid of nothing and prepared to take calculated risks when need arose
  • Won patronage of important people
  • Flattered outrageously
  • Be relied upon to carry out tasks that were entrusted to him
  • Major break came when henryviii was eing browbeated by counsellors to carry on with fathers policies when he wanted to follow policy of his own. Wolsey gave king the advice he wanted to hear and won his approval. He encourage king to continue “life of gaiety” and leave boring work of government to people like him.
  • Many leading figures from previous reign were either removed from scene of retired
  • 1512-13 proved confidence to king by taking on responsibility of organising expedition force to invade france. Ensured right people were in right place with right equipment at right time.
  • Wolsey also wanted the pope to appoint him a position that outranked Canterbury and so exerted pressure on him supported by henry VIII
  • Wolsey made cardinal but wasn’t satisfied. Wanted control of English church, campaigned to become a ‘Legatus a Latere’
  • Also wanted to e appointed to senior office of state, lord chancellorship
  • 1514 he was the de facto chief minister
  • 1515 archbishop warham, lord chancellor, resigned and wolsey took his place. Now in direct control of legal system of state.


Wolsey powers: how he maintained it

  • Total power in church
  • Had immense wealth
  • Never relaxed, always active
  • Most of power came from church- church pays salary,
  • Vindictive
  • Lord chancellor os state= power
  • Wolsey worried about “favourites/minions” who were friends with henry at court and had influence over him so infiltrated people into the roupin 1518, gives them prestigious positions but outside of chamber so they’ll be too busy to talk to henry then suggest to henry to reform royal household
  • When drift back in he makes them ambassadors and sends them to other countries.



        Y end of career= most richest man in country

        Much less than half was from positions he had

        Greater part of income = fees charged by ecclesiastical courts and gifts’ given each year

        Was determined his court be equal to those in Europe

        Invented parliamentary susidy, introduced amicable grants


Government and legal system

  • Achieved little in domestic affairs
  • Been accused of attempting to dispense parliament altogether
  • Only 2 parl’s summoned during his period of power
  • He did attempt to bring greater justice to legal system, trying to balance common law and civil law- introduced civil to replace common
  • As lord chancellor he was head of legal system and responsible for kings council and chancery


Only great hostility to wolsey when he began to fall from power.


Why did Wolsey fall from power?


The case

The evidence


Your concerns


Peter gwynn- Henry VIII

Wolsey failed to get annulment of henry’s marriage to Catherine

Pope couldn’t afford to anger catherine’s family Charles V due to sack of rome 1527,

Wolsey suggested to say arthur’s marriage was never consummated so it was void. Henry ignored him whilst he was out of country and argued marriage was consummated and he shouldn’t have married her

“if the pope is not compliant my own life will e shortened”

“by the time returned such a volte-face was impractical”

Henry decision, not wolset, shouldn’t be blamed

First time wolsey had failed

Henry only person powerful enough to take wolsey down

If henry happy with wolsey then he wouldn’t have fallen

John guy- wolsey himself

Wolsey arrogant and had too much power

Accused of acting without king

Failed to get annulment

Charged under act of praemunine *appealing to rome over head of king)

Acting pompous when arrested

“his majesty will do so and so”

“we shall do so and so”

“I will do so and so”


“presumptious sinister practises made to the court of rome”

“ought not to be arrested by any temporal power for I am not subject to that power”

Propaganda, sourece unreliable

No proof

Only criticise when loses faith as too dangerous to


David starkey- Boleyn faction

-Anne Boleyn fed henry anti-wolsey propaganda to undermind his position

-Factions driven towards anne Boleyn

-Conflict between council and court

Letters to wolsey saying she thought he deceived her

-execution of duke of Buckingham-try to curtail growing influence of faction

Wolsey’s fall =“first and foremost anne’s success”

“I find myself deceived”

Ceuas wolsey was trying to curtail Boleyn influence,, reasonable for anne to dislike him

“residual affection”=henry tired of him?

-wolsey influence king against her so removing him seems to be logical

wolsey failing to get divorce=angers anne

been at henry’s side since start=trust

If wolsey removed=get divorce and reform in church



How did henry control the nobility

  • Many those who could claim a right to throne had died or been executed.
  • Still paranoid and this paranoia caused him to appoint wolsey to keep watch on nobility as he doubted their loyalty. Among these was Henry Brandon, one of his closest friends and supporters. Shows how disturbed henry was.
  • Duke of Buckingham wasn’t as fortunate. He was a great magnate, controlling great amount of land and was sympathetic to white rose party. he foolishly said “henry might not be king for much longer” and wolsey found out. 1521 he was ordered to London, arrested, imprisoned and found guilty and executed.
  • Percy family were incredibly powerful, had exercised virtually independent jurisdiction in N.E England. Henry fearful  of them, tried to take actions but head of family so timid he said nothing that could be misinterpreted as disloyalty. Henry forced the earl to name him as the heir so when he died all the percy lands reverted to the crown.
  • White rose party still cause for concern, even after Richard de la pole’s death 1525.  none had strong claim to throne but still possibility they might act as focus of opposition to tudor dynasty. Leading members of party were 3 pole brothers (not related to de la pole) who  inherited claim from mother. Cavendish family also shared similar ancestry. Families careful not to be seen as being disloyal but let down by Reginald pole. When the break between henry and pope became final in mid 1530’s, Reginald publicly sided with pope and became enemy of the king. 1537 he was made cardinal and sent to netherlands to cross channel when time was right to convert England back.  Henry tried to get him assisinated=failed
  • Geoffrey pole, was arrested and spent several months of ‘morale sapping’ imprisonment and forced to accuse friends and relatives of having taken part in traitorous conversations. Heda sof family- Lord montague, geoffreys older brother and marquess of Exeter were arrested and executed and children kept in custody. Countess of salisury executed, lord montague’s son died in prison but exeters sons survived along with Geoffrey pole who toured Europe.



        Trying to reduce importance of nobles so as to widen the gap between himself and most important nobles

        Trying to move to modern system where king was the source of all significant over and influence

        However no consistency in henry’s behaviour towards nobility




        Factions formed as in privy chamber they had greatest opportunity to influence king/queen

        Access had been limited during Henry VII to the privy chamber

        HenryVII opened it up and more people had access to the privy chamber.

        People with access to the privy chamber were ambitious, wanted to influence king to pursue policies they favoured. Also wanted kings patronage (position/lands/titles) and may want to influence king against rivals

        Factions formed around common objective [eg: catholics with Cromwell against anne Boleyn] rarely lasted long and once achieved they disintegrated

        Councillors of henry [wolsey,Cromwell] had to be able to control or manipulate factions and retain influence with king

        Having access to privy chamber led to decisions taken in privy council being overturned. Undermines role of privy council.

        Between 1529-32 henry uncertain of his direction. Under great pressure from 2 rival groups

-Pro Boleyn faction                                                -pro catherine or aragon faction

        Doesn’t know whether to get rid of pope but desperate for son and heir

        Until 1532 thomas more was chancellor and member of Catherine of aragon/conservative faction

        However influence of conservative faction began to decline because of boyeln faction offering henry a solution to his problem

        1530- dominated by Cromwell- manipulate and control factions initially worked with Boleyn’s until Seymour’s came along.

        1540-prominent conservative faction at court and was led by Norfolk and bishop Gardiner. Aim was power and counter reformation

        same period new faction emerged and there focus was the succession

        edward not healthy, if he died who’d get throne as both daughters=illegitimate

        during 1540 henry played one faction off against another as hadn’t appointed new chief minister after Cromwell

        conservative faction fell out of his favour coz of his failed marriage to Catherine howard. Takes sides with new faction concerned with sucession. Results in 6th marriage to Catherine Parr


Henry and the Church


        church=largest landowner

        45,000 clergy in England, 10,000 were monks and nuns, rest were priests, bishops etc.

        church + crown usually worked together ‘twin pillars if society’

        abuses within church, people been critical of church since middle ages.

        Henry didn’t question authority of church until late 1520’s. church powerful ally

        Henry realised church gave him good servants- best educated

        Church-valuable source of income and good means of rewdarding those who served him [eg:wolsey]

        Church taught great chain of being-made everyone accept it, suppressed revolt








England on the eve of reformation-Opposition?

  • Pope still accepted as being power, religious orders still supported, clergy were respected everywhere else and the support for parish churches remained high. Can be seen due to the number of church and chapels built, the donations they received, and the money left in wills to parish churches. Also high attendance at church
  • Religious guilds were numerous, supported by locals and sacraments, rituals and intercession were still largely popular.
  • Main opposition in south east to church- merchants and traders wanted bigger role

, growing criticism of pope and his power, new ideas in Europe spread to S.E first, 2 big universities oxford and Cambridge were hotbed for protestant ideas, superstition-images unpopular, loyalty to pope was diminishing after 1534.

        There may have been some aspects of the church that needed reform. The rumours about the ‘gluttonous monks’ and the feel of dissatisfaction from the S.E was a problem but there is no clear evidence the church was as corrupt as people feared. Many were still loyal to religion, the practises such as rituals remained popular, the clergy, pope and religious order were still respected so maybe reform wasn’t entirely needed based on the state of the church at this time.










































        If changed were going to be firm as possible and enforceable the easiest way to achieve that was to get parliamentary approval as when they return to their constituencies they will be the ones to enforce that law.

        Because changes were so enormous it was really important to get a cross section of support. It’d give a chance to sound out any opposition as people will discuss it

        Henry hoped to put pressure on pope by showing him the ‘political nation’ was behind him in all his and the pope might change his mind

        Did henry in 1529 have an agenda? Most say he had an agenda to use parl to pressurise the pope but hadn’t thought any further.


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