Faction during Henry VIII

  • Created by: Cara
  • Created on: 04-06-12 12:53

Bullet Point Two


Faction and Court Politics, 15 39-15 53


Background: Faction to 15 39


Rise of Faction from 15 29

·         After the fall of Wolsey in 15 29, there was no longer a chief minister to direct and implement policy


·         Instead, Henry operated with three groups of counsellors and advisers, who had rather different ideas about what to do. 


·         The groups were not fixed or organised, but they show the different views presented to the king:

o   Conservatives, who were initially the Aragonese faction, strove to defend the Catholic Church and fight against heresy (including John Fisher, Thomas More, Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary)

o   Reformers, who were initially the Boleyn faction (Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn)

o   Aristocrats with whom Henry hunted and felt at ease, and men who had been united in getting rid of the low-born Wolsey, but after his demise they had few ideas about how to proceed (Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, and Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk)


·         The annulment had resulted in a rise in faction; by 15 35, Anne Boleyn had not produced a son (just a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 15 33), and so the Aragonese faction were hopeful that the marriage would fail and Catherine may be restored


Faction 15 36-8

·         Catherine’s death was in 15 36, so Mary became head of the Aragonese faction.  But there were plots to remove her from the country, so that the regime became more watchful over this faction.


·         Henry was also having doubts about his marriage to Anne Boleyn and had a new love interest in Jane Seymour, leading to the emergence of a new faction, led by her brother Edward.  Cromwell disassociated himself from Anne, and decided the safest solution to the king’s problem was to produce evidence of adultery, the scale of which shocked Cranmer, who was given the task of annulling the marriage (thereby making Elizabeth illegitimate).  This purge of the Boleyn faction removed Anne in 15 36, her brother, and three gentlemen of the Privy Chamber.  Following her death, he married Jane Seymour



·         In 15 37, Prince Edward was born to Jane Seymour, who died a few days later


·         In 15 38, the so-called Exeter Conspiracy was uncovered, intended to overthrow the king and bring back Catholicism.  It involved the Courtney and Pole families (Yorkist claimants to the throne), and resulted in the execution of Henry Courtney (Marquis of Exeter), Lord Montague and the elderly Countess of Salisbury.  This probably arose due to Cromwell’s isolation after the fall of Anne Boleyn, perhaps designed to shore up his power base by convincing the king he had rescued him from a serious threat


Faction in Henry VIII’s Reign (15 39-15 47)



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