Explain why Henry VIII Broke from Rome in 1534

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Political Reasons

Political reasons are the fundamental reasons why Henry VIII broke from Rome in 1534.

  • Following the collapse of his daughter, Mary, and Charles V of Spain's marriage alliance, Henry VIII was desperate to strengthen his dynasty. In order to do this, Henry VIII was desperate to have a male heir however his wife, Catherine of Aragon, was unlikely to have more children due to multiple miscarriages, still births and her age.
  • Leviticus Chapter 20 led Henry VIII to believe that his marriage was cursed as he married his brother's widow (the verse mentions being childless is you marry your brother's wife). Therefore, Henry VIII needed a divorce so that he could marry another woman and finally get a male heir, however the Pope wouldn't grant him a divorce.
  • Henry VIII soon learnt that his infatuation, Anne Boleyn was pregnant and his desperation for an annulment increased. In order for his possible son to become heir to the throne, the child had to be born in wedlock.
  • As Anne Boleyn was a Lutheran, she could have influenced and encouraged Henry VIII to break from Rome.
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Financial Reasons

  • If Henry VIII broke from Rome he would gain many financial benefits and his egotistical character would also be fuelled as he would be gaining more wealth from churches and monasteries and therefore would become more powerful!

 

  • Cromwell (chief advisor) and Cranmer (archbishop) advised Henry VIII to break from Rome due to parliamentary reasons - Parliament was becoming increasingly anti-clerical and to give Henry VIII Parliament's blessing to break from Rome, the Act of Supremacy 1534 was passed.

 

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The European Reformation

  • Word of European Reformation ideas were spreading due to trading contacts in big cities like London - gave Henry VIII justification and supporters to break from Rome.
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Conclusion

  • Many reasons; however fundamentally, Henry VIII broke from Rome due to his desire to have a male heir to strengthen his dynasty given the Pope's refusal to grant him a divorce due to Charles V's influence.
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