Explain the major causes for the English Reformation
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The English Reformation occurred for three reasons; economic gain, religious disputes, and most of all, because of King Henry VIII emotional life. The Catholic Church in England owned much of the land and had amassed much wealth. Many religious groups in England had been pushing for reform since the 1300’s. King Henry was married and wanted his marriage annulled so he could marry another woman, but the Pope would not grant this annulment; Henry created his own church and appointed himself as the head of his new church so that he could grant himself an annulment. The consequences of England’s break from Rome were far reaching and long lasting.
One reason for the reformation was the wealth of the Catholic Church; the Catholic Church owned and controlled vast amounts of land and wealth. Henry saw a break from Rome as an opportunity to pay for his expensive wars. During the mid 16th century, Henry destroyed and confiscated the monasteries and other lands of the church. The lands that he confiscated were sold to the nobility and middle classes. The money from these land sales went to pay for the war effort.
Religious groups, such as the Lollards, had been pushing for reform in the church for several centuries prior to the English reformation. Other than this, the English Catholic Church was strong and healthy. The English clergy were very well educated and had a lot of authority and respect from the people of England. Therefore, the English reformation was mainly caused by the king’s emotional life.
In 1527, King Henry requested an annulment from Pope Clement, claiming that his marriage with Catherine of Aragon would cause a civil war because a woman would inherit the throne. When the pope refused to grant Henry an annulment, Henry issued the Act in Restraint of Appeals which said that the king was the supreme judicial authority in England. This established the crown as the head legal authority in England. The Supremacy Act came a year later and caused a direct split from Rome, establishing the king to be the head of the church in England.
The consequences of the English Reformation were many and long lasting. The English Reformation began a period of religious instability in England that would last until Elizabeth claimed the throne in 1558. When Henry’s son took the throne for the five years that he ruled, he was strongly Protestant like his father. When he died, he left the throne to his step sister Mary Tudor. Mary was a devout Catholic like her mother, with which whom she had been raised, and she briefly tried to turn England back to Catholicism. Many Protestants fled England during her reign, and many were also executed by Mary. In 1558, Elizabeth, Mary’s sister, ascended to the throne. She had been raised Protestant and mixed the two religions together. Elizabeth implemented a religious tolerance in England creating a stability that had not occurred since before the English Reformation. Another of the consequences of the English Reformation, was that Ireland also turned Protestant. This happened because King Henry wanted more political control in the region.
The English Reformation occurred for three reasons. First, religious grounds were a minor factor but it still played its part. Second, for economic reasons, King Henry VIII was eager to get his hands on the wealth that the church held in England. And last, Henry’s emotional life was the major factor in the English reformation, and the final straw that led to the break from Rome. Therefore, because of the above information one can conclude that the major factor to England’s break from Rome was King Henry VIII emotional life.