Henry VIII: Faction Fighting

An overview of the various factions and their aims in Henry VIII's

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Faction in the 1530s

  • 3 main factions at 1529, the time of Wolsey's fall;
  • These individuals who had all been against Wolsey now re-aligned themselves, and in the years up to the divorce these factions competed for attention from the king.
  • Aristocratic: Anne Boleyn,Duke of Norfolk,Anne's father and Stephen Gardiner.
  • At first the aristocratic faction was the most powerful, especially strong on the council, but it lacked initiative. Norfolk and Suffolk had little to offer hanry other than loyaslty.
  • Boleyn:George Boleyn(Anne's brother) who was re-admitted to the privy chamber in 1528, as well as being in the council. Other members were Sir Bryan and Sir Thomas Audley(later lord chancelor) who was able to support the divorce through his legal skills. The most important member was Thomas Cromwell. Fianlly was Thomas Cramner and edward Foxe, who was behind the theory of the henrician supremacy.
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Faction in the 1530s Continued

  • This was a very radical faction;
    • it was pepared to use extreme measures in securing the annulment
    • willing to accept reform in the engilsh chuerch that went beyond royal supremacy to include some of the latest ideas.
  • Aragonese: included Henry coutnay,Lord darcy, Sir Thomas more, Bishop John Fisher.
  • They supported Catherine and feared the safety of the catholic church

It waas the radical faction that won. They provided him with an effective way out ofhis problems with the pope; justification for the break with rome and a boleyn marriage.

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The fall of Anne Boleyn

  • In 1536 C of A dies, causing Henry and pregnant Anne to rejoice. They were now feeling more secure. However, Catherine's death provided a spur for further action against Anne and her supporters.
  • The enemies of Anne wanted Mary restored to the sucession and religious orthodozy to return
  • In January, Anne miscarried a son which weakened her position. Henry saw it as a judgement from god on his marriage.
  • A rival, Jane Seymour arrived. mary's supporters were quick to cast her in the role of seducing the king.
  • Thomas Cromwell was also threatened by these developments. His rise to power had been based on the Boleyn marriage. However, he also had his issues with anne and so he joined the Aragonese faction.
  • In April a commission was set up to investigate treason. On 30th April a musician Michael Smeaton was arrested. under torture he confessed to adultery with the queen. The next day, henry norton was arrested, to be followed by Anne herself, her brother and 2 members of the Privy Chamber.
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The fall of Anne Boleyn Continued/ Cromwell's fall

  • They were accused of adultery and in george's case, incest with the queen.
  • Smeaton's confession was the only one obtained but all were sentenced to death. On the day after Anne's execution henry was betrothed to Jane and married her in May.

Cromwell's Fall

  • Cromwell now turned on his allies, accusing them of attempting to restore Mary to the sucession.
  • The succession was changed, but not to Mary's advantage. It seemed that Cromwell had won. At the end of June he replaced Anne's father as lord Privy Seal and in July was given the title of Baron of Wimbledon.
  • Later in 1536, Aragonese faction members attempted to topple Cromwell, by resorting to an uprising when they took part in the PoG
  • Cromwell was made chief noble of the PC in 1539
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Cromwell's fall Continued

  • The conservative faction saw their chance in 1540, when a combination of factors weakened his influence.
  • jane Seymour had died, and encouraged by Cromwell, Henry sought a new wife; Anne of Cleves. Cromwell was blamed for this marriage, and was told to annul it
  • This should have been simple, however the alternative prospect of catherine Howard was put forward. It was obvious to cromwell that if he ended the marriage to Anne, his enemy's niece would be queen.
  • However, his fortunes continued to rise; In 1540 he was made Earl of Essex and Lord Great chamberlain.
  • Cromwell was accused of heresy by his opponents, and couple with the slowness of the divorce, the King's impatience was tried
  • In July he was executed.
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Faction in the 1540s

  • There were 2 main factions: the conservatives and the reformers
  • The conservatives came into power when Henry married catherine h, but she cheated on him and the conservatives victory was therefore shortlived. Cramner was the reformer brave enough to tell H the truth(cynics would stress his political and religious motivation.) As a result, Catherine, her lovers, adn accomplices were executed anf family members expelled from court/PC(except for Norfolk).
  • However, the conservatives were still strong enough to counter atack cramner in 1543(accused him of heresy) but H intervened and saved his friend.
  • In 1544, Gardiner was accused of denyiong royal supremacy becasue his enphew had. h agreed with the reformers to send G to the tower. However, a personal appeal from G to H won his position back.
  • Henry married catherine Parr in 1543, this meant more radical protestant ideas circulated through court. She was accused of heresy by the conservatives, and the king gave them permission to investigate her. However Catherine appealed to H's mercy and priomised to be a dutiful wife, thus she was saved.
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Faction in the 1540s Continued

  • Considering religion was quite orthodox it is strange that a strong faction qith strong reformist ideas emerged.
  • The Hertford alliance emerged through a mixture of family ties, position at court and military recognition.
  • Gardiner had already weakened his position at court, but the HA told Henry that he refused to an exchange of lands and as a result G was excluded from council. On 2nd Dec Surrey was accused of disloyalty. He was accused of talking about when his family would be regents when h was deas. He was executed. Norfolk was also due to be executed but the king dies the preceding night.
  • It was very important to have control of the privy chamber and the dry stamp in order to control access to the king and his signature.
  • In Henry's 'will' Thomas seymour is included as a councillor. It was also made possible for the council to give out offices and titles.
  • The Hertford alliance influenced h's will and they withheld the date of H's death so that they could gain possession of the new king.
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Conclusion

What effects did faction politics have on government?

  • Religion changed, people died, laws that are passed, lack of consistency in policy.
  • The wives of h8 determined which nobles had influence
  • Consistent reforms were difficult.

To what extent was Henry in Control?

  • He let everyone do their jobs
  • he was selfish, inconsistent, gullible and easily swayed
  • Very negative regarding government
  • However, he still had ultimate control.
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