Henry VIII: Authority, Nation and Religion 1509-1540

The whole unit, hope it helps.
I have used the "Edexcel GCE History" textbook to attempt to condense notes
Page numbers have been referenced.

  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 13-04-13 10:24

Henry VII re-establishing the power of the Crown

Weakness of Henry VII in 1485:
- Claim to the throne was feeble
- He had become King through support from the French (Traditionally Englands main enemy)
- People (for the past 30 years) had undermined the power of the English Crown (Henry VII was overthrown twice and killed, Edward IV had also been overthrown, Richard III killed at B.O.B) People didn't think he would last. 

Despite the weakness of his claim to the thrown, he was able to increase his power in many ways:
- Defeated other clainmants to the throne (Richard III)
- Worked hard at the business of Government + increased the Crown's income
- Chose good advisers
- Excerised rigorous control over the nobility (who had undermined the power of the Crown)
- Re-established England as a major European power
- Gained powerful support from the Church

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What Challenges did Henry VII during his reign?

Lambert Simnel - He claimed to be Edward (Earl of Warwick, who had a better claim to the throne) and was crowned Edward VI in Ireland by the King's enemy. Although he was an impostor, he managed to gain support from Edward IV sister.They joined together with Richards III heir's and they sailed to rebel. They attempted to march to London but luckily were defeated by forces at the Battle of Stoke.

Perkin Warbeck - Troubled Henry for 9 years by gathering support from Henry's enemies. He claimed to be Richard, Duke of York (youngest son of Edward IV). 1495, Henry had to executed Sir William Stanley (who placed the Crown on Henry at B.O.B) for conspiring with Warbeck.

Edmund de la Pole - A serious Yorkist claimant. He was exiled in Low Countries. He was not executed until 1513 (after Henry VII's death). Henry VIII would finish off the purge of the Pole family in the 1530's.

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The Government of Henry VII

Privy Chamber and Royal Exchequr:
- Henry worked extremely hard at the everyday business of government.
- Only a chosen few entered the Privy Chamber
- No English King had worked harder
- He would sign the papers himself and check all the details of income
- Royal income was delivered to the Privy Chamber instead of the Royal Exchequer (responsible for royal finances)

Royal Council:
- Good use of his Council to help to restore law and order.
- Made up of men hand picked by the King
- Could meet as a law court, with or without the King
- Henry set up a special council (possibly only a temporary measure) to deal with those guilty of rioting and disorder.

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Henry VII and Royal Finances

Crown Lands - Land owned by the Crown. Owned more land than any other King. He inherited both Lancastrian and Yorkist lands.

Profits of Justice - Would fine those, especially wealthy, who broke the law.

Feudal or prerogative rights - He had special rights which he could use to his financial gain.
= Wardship: Right to control and exploit the lands of children until they came of age. He could arrange and sell a child's marriage.
= Taxes on trade: Fixed the levels of taxes or tariffs on importing or exporting goods.
= Sale of offices: He appointed all the senior officials in Church and State. He could then sell important posts.

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Henry VII and his control over the Nobility

He was fortunate that many leading noble lines had died out and he himself had few blood relatives.

Bonds and Recognisances:
- Didn't really give many new titles and patronage
- Enforced the law systematically against errant noblemen, giving the no chance to increase their power.
- Noblemen (or their relatives) would face fines for misbehaviour.

- Land was confiscated by Acts of Attainder.
- This act was passed against people who fought Henry at B.O.B
- Managed the marriage between noble families to stop them getting large amounts of land.

Noble Support:
- He did not need to rely on noblemen, unlike previous Kings, putting him in a strong position.

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Henry VII's foreign policy

He didn't get involved in wars abroad

Neutralised the threat from France:
- They had support Henry in fighting to claim the throne.
- They made peace in the Treaty of Etaples.
- Granted an annual French pension (boosted his income)

Made peace with Scotland:
- James IV of Scotland had supported Warbeck
- 1497 Henry made a truce with Scotland, followed by a full treaty of peace and alliance in 1499
- Henry agreed to marry Henry's daughter Margaret.

Made a new alliance with Spain:
- Treaty of Medina del Campo, Spain agreed not to supportany Yorkist claimants and a marriage alliance between England and Spain was projected.
- It did little to help England. The alliance was forged only after a few negotiations on the basis that they both feared France. Did not mean they would fight together

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How successful was Henry VII's reign?

- Dealth with other claimants to the throne
- Own style of 'personal' government
- Increase the Crown's income
- Kept nobility under control
- Re-established England's position in Europe with marriage and trade treaties

- Serious rebellions during his reign (Warbeck, Simnel etc)
- His government in later years became harsh and unfair (he became increasingly more paranoid)
- Not as wealthy as the King of France and Spain.

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Catholic Church & it's importance

Mass and the Eucharist:
- Mass was heard every Sunday
- People believed that at Mass they were witnessing the re-enactment of Christ's sacrifice
- The miracle of the Mass bound the faithful together.
- Celebrated on Sundays and Holy Days without fail.

- Cofession and penance were require to get rid of sins.
- Believed they would be punished in the afterlife for their sins.
- If one died with a minor sins, they believed they would go to purgatory where their sins would be painfully cleansed.
-  People would purchase indulgences to save the souls of the dead.

Community - The religious calendar dictated people's lives.

Saints - Adopted by communities and individuals to protect agaisnt misfortune, death and destruction

Donations - Paid for the upkeep of Churches

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Dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church

Uneducated priests - Unable to deliver traditional services as they couldn't read or write. Hard for them to understand the significance of the Mass.

Clerical Abuses - Accused of serious breaches of Church discipline (See page 19 in textbook for examples)

Religious Houses - Played an important role for local communities as it was a source of education and caring for the poor, however the moral standards were dropping.

Benefit of the Clergy - Allowed members of the clergy who had committed serious crimes to escape trial in secular courts.

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Martin Luther - German reformer and most important figure in the early Reformation. He criticised the sale of indulgences.

Impact of Lutheranism in Enlgand:
- Had little impact.
- Thomas More helped Henry VIII  write a robust defence of Catholic orthodoxy which earned him the title of Defender of the Faith from the papacy.
- Those who read Luther's work or preahed his ideas were in danger of being tried as a heretic.
- Henry VIII was attracted to some elements of radical thought, particularly the ideas which endorsed his imperial kingship and headship of both Church and State.

Opposition to the Catholic Church in England before the reformation:
Humanists - Didn't want a new way of worshipping, they just wanted improvements. Wanted to revitalise the Church and improve standards. Impact from Humanist to ordinary people were minimal as it didn't really affect their everyday worship.
Lollards - Had more radical ideas of challenging papal authority. Wanted the Bible in English, closure of the monastries and the secularisation of Church property. Men should be equal.

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How did Wolsey rise to power?

- Gained a degree from Oxford at fifteen
- Went on to take holy orders in 1498
- 1507, Henry VII appointed him as a chaplain
- He was employed on a small diplomatic mission which showed him to be a efficient administrator
- Henry VII died and Henry VIII saw his fathers councillors as old and grew tired of them (Wolsey had a chance to prove his worth)
- In 1509, Wolsey became Royal Almoner, a post that automatically made him a member of the Royal Council (Helped Wolsey win the trust of Henry as he had regular access)
- 1512 to 1513, Wolsey worked hard in organising the invasion of France
- Henry had found someone who could get things done quickly and efficently
- Wolsey was ruthless and would not let anyone distrupt his plans
- Wolsey was awarded with multiple titles. (see textbook, page 31)
- 1515, Wolsey held the title of senior office of state which made it difficult for nobles to challenge his decisions

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How did Wolsey maintain his power?

Relationship with Henry:
- Wolsey knew that if he continued to serve the King loyally and efficiently, his position was secure.
- Traditional historians saw Wolsey as an alter rex (second king). Gives the impression that Wolsey had more power in the Court whereas Henry had a a more passive role.
- Recent historians believe that the King always had the last say on important issues. Wolsey had control over minor issue, but Henry controlled the major decisions.
- Henry was not that easily manipulated
- Their relationship deteriorated over the Amicable Grant crisis and the failure of the annulment to Catherine of Aragon.

Wosley Wealth:
- He came from low birth (father was a butcher). This caused resentment from nobles.
- Used his wealth to set himself up as the most important man in the country, besides the King.
- He had the largest disposble income in England.
- He would create magnificent banquets and also recieved a positive response from foreign ambassadors

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Wolsey's domestic policies (1)

- Attempted to bring greater justice to the system
- Anyone could bring their case before him
- He wanted to see impartial justice delivered in his courts
- Promoted civil law over common law
- Civil war was seen to be more progressive whereas common law was outdated
- There were times when Wolsey would use the courts to further his own position and carry out personal vendettas against enemies
- Caused further resentment by nobles as he targeted those who abused their aristocratic privileges

- Involved fencing off common land for profitable sheep rearing. (caused rural depopulation and poverty)
- Was another way of Wolsey bringing great men to justice and challenge their power.
- It furthered his unpopularity with the ruling class

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Wolsey's domestic policies (2)

- Greatest achievement in financial policy was to replace the traditional fifteenths and tenths with a system that accurately reflected the true wealth of taxpayers across England.
- Wolsey favoured the subsidy because it raised more money and was more progressive
- Subsidy raised £170,000 + the fifteenths and tenths raised £90,000
- However it also caused problems, Wolsey demanded over £800,000 in taxation from parliament on top of loans that still hadn't been collected from the previous year. He was forced to settle with much less.

Amicable Grant:
- Feb 1525, French army had been defeated at the Battle of Pavia, Henry saw this as a chance to attacked (French King, Francis I, had been held captive)
- Coffers were empty so Wolsey demanded a non-parliamentary tax (the amicable grant)
- It targeted both the clergy and laity
- The grant was met with violent displeasure
- There was refusal to pay. 10,000 men marched to Lavenham (Suffolk)

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Why did Henry lose faith in Wolsey?

Henry's government was becoming increasingly unpopular:
- Wolsey had switched allegiance from Charles V to Francis I in a bid to break Habsburg control over Italy and cajole the Emperor into negotiations over Henry's marriage to Catherine.
- The alliance was unpopular  with the leading nobility, it distrupted trading and put Henry in a weak position in terms of the Great Matter

Wolsey also failed in getting Henry the annulment the way he wanted.

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Wolsey and the failure to gain a divorce. (1)

1526 - Henry wanted to get out of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Wosley proposed to challenge the original dispensation issued by Pope Julius II that had allowed Henry to marry Catherine in the first place. He argued that the dispensation was issued on the grounds of consummation (which made a marriage legal) yet Catherine always argued that she came to Henry a virgin. Henry wanted to use the Leviticus to argue against the marriage to his dead brothers wife. Wolsey found it difficult, he did find a alternative option but Henry refused and wanted to use the Levitcus.

1527 - Wolsey planned to use his powers as 'legate a latere' to annul the marriage in England. Catherine heard of the meeting and opposed any decisions taken in England about her marriage. As Charles V effectively held the Pope, Wolsey decided to act without rome but with the assistance of the Church to carry out with the divorce, but cardinals were reluctant to help. Wolsey plan was then to get the Pope to grant him the power to decide the case in England without the right to appeal but the Pope refused. The Pope needed a solution which did not humilate the King or the Emperor.

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Wolsey and the failure to gain a divorce. (2)

1528 - The Pope sent Campeggio to oversee the ecclesiatical court in England. The Pope had secretly told him to delay any proceedings. Henry and Wolsey tried to convince Campeggio of the validity of their case but failed. Campeggio tried to find alternative solutions, such as telling Catherine to retire to a nunnery and let Henry remarry. The courts began to sympathise with Catherine.

October 1528 - Proceedings were delayed further when the Spanish had discovered a brief by the Julius II from 1503 that cleared up any doubts over Catherines marriage to Henry. The English proclaimed the brief to be fake. Spanish refused to hand it over in fear that it might disappear. Wolsey was charged with praemunire (excerising his legatine power in England to the detriment of the King).

1530 - Wolsey was arrested and died on the way to his execution. 

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16th Century Europe: Key Players

- 1515, Francis I became King of France.
- Largest Kingdom in Europe.
- 16 million people.
-  Francis inherited conflict in Italy against the Habsburgs from his predecessor.

- 1516, Charles of Habsburg became Charles I of Spain.
- 6.8 million people.

Holy Roman Empire (HRE):
- Was ruled over by an Emperor.
- Each state was ruled over by a prince who held a great deal of political power.
- 16 million.
- Although an elected post, the Habsburgs had made it effectively hereditary. 1519, Charles of Harsburg succeeded his grandfather Maximilian I to become Charles V. Charles now ruled over Spain and HRE.

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Henry's early foreign policies (1)

French Campaign of 1511-1514:
- Henry wanted to claim the throne in France.
- He saw Spain as a strong ally as he had married Catherine of Aragon
- He knew he did not have a military big or strong enough to compete with France.

War against France 1512-1513:
- Henry had it difficult to detach himself from his father's old ministers who were keen to stress the advantage of NOT going to war.
- 1508, major european powers joined together by Pope Julius II to attack Venice. France had emerged as the most powerful and the Pope changed his direction to drive France out of Nothern Italy. Venice, England and the Empire were directing their forces against France.
- Henry saw this an an opportunity to portray the way as a way of defending the liberties of the Church.
- The plan was for England to gain control of Aquitaine in southwestern France

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Henry's early foreign policies (2)

The Battle of the Spurs 1513:
- The failre of the War against France made Henry even more determined.
- Henry had learned from the first campaign that he needed to be able to act independently from his so-called allies if English aims were to be met.
- King personally led an army of 30,000 men that crossed over the Channel to Calais in June 1513.
- Some important French nobles were captured and reurned to England in a bid to further enhance the prestige of what had been a relatively one-sided encounter.

The Battle of Flodden
- The King of Scotland had used Henry's absense to attack England, however Surrey moved to stop it's progress.
- Surrey were outnumbered, however, despite this, they won and the King of Scotland was killed.
- Henry saw this as an indication that there will be little trouble in the future.

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Henry's early foreigh policies (3)

The Anglo-French Treaty 1514:
- Henry was forced to make peace with France.
- Ferdinand and Maximilian had lost interest in attacking France and both had been negotiating with Louis XII behind Henry's back to conclude seperate treaties.
- Pope Leo X favoured peace over war.
- The state of Henry's coffers would suggest that this was the sensible course of action.
- The peace treaty was sealed with the marriage of Henry's younger sister Mary to Louis XII

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Wolsey and foreign policies (1)

Wolsey the peace maker?
- In 1515, Louis XII died to be succeeded by his cousin, Francis I
- Francis I was eager to make his mark on European affair, and he had the material and monetary resources behind him. He was able to make an impression.
- The Anglo-French treaty soon evaporated as Francis sent a Scottish claimant to overthrow the regency government, which he did successfully.
- Francis won a crushing victory over the Swiss at the Battle of Marignano, which gave the French control of Milan and Northern Italy
- Henry was jealous however, he could do little to stop his progress.
- Wolsey wanted to avoid an invasion but he wanted to support any pro-papal, anti-french alliance.
- He created a secret subsidy with Emperor Maximilian, in hopes that he could repel the French advance into Northern Italy. However, Maximilian took the money and defeated to the French.
- Wolsey then constructed a anti-French league made up of Rome, Venice, Spain and the Empire. In 1516, Ferdinand died to be succeeded by his grandson, the Archduke Charles. Charles didn't want to get involved and made peace with France

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Wolsey and foreign policies (2)

The Treaty of London 1518
- 1518, Leo X had been calling for a western crusade against the infidel Turk.
- Wolsey took these papal plans and modified them to suit the needs of the powers of Europe. He put together a settlement of universal peace which put England at the centre of dilomatic affairs.
- The peace settlement bound France, the papacy, Spain, the Empire and England.
- The treaty guaranteed non aggression between major European powers.
- The treaty heaped prestige onto Henry's reign + ended the threat of isolation
- Wolsey was awarded the title of 'legate a latere'

Spain or France?
- It was unlikely that theTreaty of London would last long.
- 1519, Emperor Maximilian died. Set up a power struggle between Charles (King of Spain) and Francis I (King of France). Empire would chose Charles because of his Harbsburg lineage. Wolsey and Henry continued to present England as arbiter of Peace in Europe.

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Wolsey and foreign policies (3)

The Field of Cloth of Gold, 1520
1520, Henry and Francis met at the field of Cloth of Gold, near Calais.
- 3,000 notables from each of the two kingdoms were present.
- No expense was spared, both sides tried to show off their royal credentials.
- Little diplomatic value was gained. It was proving difficult to maintain English neutrality as Habsburg-Valois tensions mounted.
- Charles V had visited England in May and June of 1520. Charles was desperate for assurance that England would not be drawn into a French alliance.
- England was likely to side with Charles because England had traditionally hostility against France, England had important trade links with the Low Countries and papal policy was anti-French at the time.
- 1521, Wolsey arranged for a three power conference at Calais as England continued to act as the peace broker between the two main superpowers.
- Wolsey made a settlement with Charles which agreed that English forces would invade France unless the French king agreed to peace.
- Wolsey managed to negoitate a delay in England entering the war against France until 1523. Wolsey hoped that by then, the situation might change and prevent the need for assistance

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Wolsey and foreign policies (4)

Field of Cloth of Gold 1520:
- The Earl of Surrey led a raiding party to Calais and Normandy and Picardy in 1522 but made no territorial gains and worryingly received little support from Charle's troops.
- August 1523 another opportunity presented itself to undermine Francis's power when the French King was faced with a serious rebellion from Charles, Duke of Bourbon. (Leading French noble who felt that he had been denied his rightful territorial inheritance by Francis)
- An English force (costing £400,000) was sent under Suffolk, but the rebellion came to nothing and the army fell apart due to lack of supplies and poor weather.
- Charles was aware that England's loyality was fading.

The Diplomatic Revolution:
- Feb 1525, Charles achieved a decisive victory over the French in Northern Italy at Pavia, the French army was annihilated, Francis I himself was taken prisoner.
- Wolsey and Henry hoped they might benefit from this and take the French Crown, but Charles would not allow this.
- 1525 was seen as a turning point as England moved away from traditional Spanish/Imperial alliance with the Treaty of Westminster. (Mary had to marry Francis's son)

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Wolsey and foreign policies (5)

Diplomatic Revolution (Continued)
- Henry threatened Charles with armed intervention if he refused to make an adequate peace with his enemies. (However, England lacked milarity power)
- 1527, Imperial troops sacked Rome and Pope Clement VII was taken prisoner: This was a disaster for Wolsey because foreign policy at this time was closely linked with the King's great matter which would cause problems if the Pope is away, the King would be expecting the divorce and it would be difficult for Wolsey to achieve because of the diplomatic situation. In 1525, he had began to isolate itself from Charles, a regretable move.
- Charles was Catherine's aunt and was unwilling to see a close family member wronged and humiliated.
- Henry needed the Pope to decree on the matter so his marriage could be legitimately annulled.
- With the pope being a prisoner to Charles, there seemed little chance of success in 1527. Wolsey tried to act without the papacy, arguing that Clement's captivity provided extenuation circumstances under which the college of Cardinals could decree on the matter without Rome.
- End of 1527, Charles released Clement, but maintained a tight grip over Italy. Wolsey declared war on Charles in 1528, but no capabilities were unlikely to worry Charles.

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How successful was Wolsey's foreign policy?

- Capure of Therouanne and Tournai in 1513 was a reflection of Henry's strong Renaissance kingship. Terrories were not viewed as permanent acquisitions but rather as useful bargaining tools in any future relations with France.
- Wolsey was a successful peace broker, and the peace of London in 1518 should be viewed as the single greatest achievement. It bound together the 20 foremost states in Europe together in a pact of perpetual peace. Wolsey was seen as a architect of the peace. London was the centre of international relations. Field of Cloth of Gold also enhanced prestige on the country.
- Dispite having relatively low income , Wolsey and the King were able to

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Hannah Kyle


This is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much.


Alisha Assomull


thank you so much!!

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