- Henry VIII desired an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to give him a male heir. Henry had received special dispensation from Pope Julius II to marry his dead brother's widow. Consequently, the Pope struggled to make a decision as he did not want to go against the decision made by a previous Pope. Campeggio was sent to England to review Henry's case. However, he returned to Rome with no decision made. The Pope was further under the influence of Charles V of Spain, who was a close relative of Catherines. These factors ultimately led to growing divisions between Rome and England.
- Leviticus Chapter 20 had convinced Henry that his marriage to his dead brother's widow was cursed, and that he would not have a son.
- He desire for an annulment increased when his infatuation, Anne Boleyn, became pregnant. In order for his potential son to be born legitimate, they had to be married.
- Henry is depicted as having a powerful ego and wanting to be supreme in all matters. Therefore, it has been suggested that a divorce from Catherine of Aragon was not the cause of the Break from Rome, but merely provided the opportunity.
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- Although Henry was a devout Catholic, indeed Defender of the Faith, he had been influenced by the European Reformation of 1517 and began to question the abuses of the Catholic Church.
- Martin Luther highlighted these issues, suggesting the Catholic church was corrupt and needed reforming.
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- Henry felt he could benefit financially from a break away from the Catholic Church, as he could exploit the monastic lands, Annates and other forms of revenue.
- Cromwell had promised to make Henry the 'richest man in Christendom'.
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Sequence of Events
- 1529: Henry established the Reformation Parliament, which was to deal with all legislation to do with the Reformation.
- 1530: Henry appealed to the European Universities for support for his cause. He also began to place pressure on the Pope by accusing the clergy of praemunire.
- By 1533, Henry had placed even more pressure on the Pope. For example, he passed the Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates, which reduced English payments to Rome. The Act in Conditional Restraints of Appeals was also passed, which ended appeals to the Catholic Church.
- In 1534, the Reformation Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy: this declared Henry Supreme Head of the Church. Anyone that denied Henry's position could be charged with treason, such as Bishop Fisher, Thomas More, Elizabeth Barton and a group of Carthusian Monks.
- Consequently, the power of the Pope was reduced significantly in England.
- The Break from Rome saw England take its first unintentional steps towards Protestantism.
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