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Henry VIII, change of mood.

Please read the previous post before this one.

By 1534 the mood had changed. Henry VIII had become frustrated with his failure to secure an annulment from the pope for his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and that led to him putting the Act of Supremacy through parliament declaring himself to be the Head of the Church in England. Prominent citizens had to take an oath accepting this. This was quickly followed by the Treasons Act which stated that to refuse to take the oath was a treasonous offence, punishable by death. Both St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More fell foul of this legislation and were martyred the following year.

Henry VIII, it has to be said, never embraced any of the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. He was quite a pious man, faithful to public and private devotions, and considered himself a Catholic till his death, although he was excommunicated in 1538 after eight years of repeated warnings about his behaviour. He may have had some problem with who should run the Church, and he may have had some difficulty with the Church’s teaching on marriage, but he wouldn’t be the first to create his own version of Catholicism, nor the last. To use the technical terms, Henry was a schismatic, not a heretic. It is an interesting curiosity that in 1539, five years after breaking with Rome, Henry produced the Act of the Six Articles which re-stated strict adherence to celibacy for the clergy and obliged married clergy to put away their wives. Thomas Cranmer, Henry’s own choice for Archbishop of Canterbury, had married secretly on the continent in 1532, and succeeded in keeping a wife and daughter secret for several years but it became too difficult after this and he sent them to the continent until Henry died eight years later.

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