How far did factional rivalry threaten the stability of government in the last eight years of Henry VIII’s reign?

HideShow resource information

1)      How far did factional rivalry threaten the stability of government in the last eight years of Henry VIII’s reign?


Within the last eight years of Henry VIII’s reign, there is a clear evidence of faction fighting within the Privy Council in the form of conservatives and the reformers. It is debatable as to whether faction fights threatened the stability of government during this period, as it would appear that to a certain extent, Henry VIII maintained control.

Factional rivalry was rife after the fall of Woolsey in 15 29 and there was no longer a chief minister to administer overall control of the Privy Council. One key individual in such faction fighting was Cromwell, who reformed many aspects of government such as finance, the Privy Council and the role of chief minister. He also acted as a key figure in the dissolution of the monasteries in 15 36 and 15 38. His role in moving the country in a more protestant direction did, however, cause him to form enemies in the form of the Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner. Cromwell was overthrown in 15 40 due to such enmity, resulting in accusations of willingly allowing heresy in Calais alongside the failure of the Cleves marriage. His arrest on the 10th June 15 40 matched a turning point in government, as Henry VIII no longer had a chief minister and it was evident that the conservative faction was on the rise. The ability of individuals within the Privy Council to overthrow key ministers evidently shows that Henry VIII’s government was at risk, as he did not seem to be in control of his Privy Council (due to the fact that before Gardiners accusations Cromwell had been made Earl of Essex indicating that Henry had fully supported him). Such other evidence of Henry’s lack of control is the fall of the Howards and Bishop Gardiner in 15 46. In this case it could be viewed that alongside the effective manipulation of the king by the reformers, Henry’s illness and old age in the 15 40’s may have made him more susceptible to manipulation by the Privy Council. The Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey, were implicated in planning a Howard majority upon the king’s death and were consequently arrested and the Earl of Surrey was executed in January 15 47. As faction inevitably resulted in constant power shifts between the two groups, those in power were the most influential to the king. Such influence therefore posed a serious threat with regards to the king’s will. The rise of the reformers and manipulation of the kings will in 15 47 is arguably the greatest threat to the stability of the government within the last eight years of Henry’s reign. This is because the reformers succeeded in altering the kings will and wishes for the Regency Council, by securing the Privy Council and the Dry Stamp (through Gates, Anthony Denny’s brother in law). Also, Paget




Hi! Did you get a grade for this? :)

Alice Deane


This is a life - saver thanks!

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all British monarchy - Tudors and Stuarts resources »