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3. Was Henry’s lack of male heir the main reason for reforms to the English church in this period?
About this Lecture
In this module, we consider the question ‘Is it accurate to say that Henry VIII’s lack of a male heir was the main reason for reforms to the English church in the years 1529-40?’, focusing in particular on: (i) the presence of evangelicals in England before Henry’s marital problems with Catherine of Aragon; (ii) the political context to the 1534 Act of Supremacy, including Henry’s desire for a male heir, the Pope’s refusal to grant an annulment of his marriage, and so on; (iii) the reasons why the English Reformation continued after the Act of Supremacy – and even after the birth of Prince Edward in 1537; (iv) the importance of Henry’s sense of duty in his new role as Supreme Head of the Church of England; (v) the evangelicalism of several of Henry’s key advisors and confidantes, including Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer and Anne Boleyn; and and (vi) the views of other historians, including George Bernard and Diarmaid Macculloch, on the links between the English Reformation and Henry’s lack of a male heir.
In this course, Dr Jonathan Willis (University of Birmingham) explores religion and the church in Tudor England through six key questions: (1) To what extent was criticism of the Late Medieval Catholic Church the main reason for the growth of Protestantism in Tudor England?; (2) To what extent did religion in England change significantly during the reign of Henry VIII?; (3) To what extent did religion in England change significantly during the reign of Henry VIII?; (4) How far was religious change in England during the years 1547-63 driven by the personal religious beliefs of successive monarchs?; (5) What factors facilitated the survival of Catholicism during the reign of Elizabeth I?; and (6) Did the Elizabethan Settlement of 1559 mark the end of the English Reformation?.
Dr Jonathan Willis is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Birmingham. He is primarily a historian of the English reformation, with interests in the history and theology of late-medieval and early modern Europe more broadly. His research focuses on the religious and cultural history of England over the course of the long sixteenth century. His recent publications include Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010) and The Reformation of the Decalogue: Religious Belief, Practice and Identity and the Ten Commandments in England, c.1485-c.1625 (CUP, forthcoming 2017)
Cite this Lecture
Willis, J. (2020, May 08). The Tudors – Religion and the Church, 1509-1603 - Was Henry’s lack of male heir the main reason for reforms to the English church in this period? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/the-tudors-religion-and-the-church/was-henry-s-lack-of-male-heir-the-main-reason-for-reforms-to-the-english-church-in-this-period
Willis, Jonathan. "The Tudors – Religion and the Church, 1509-1603 – Was Henry’s lack of male heir the main reason for reforms to the English church in this period?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 08 May 2020, https://massolit.io/courses/the-tudors-religion-and-the-church/was-henry-s-lack-of-male-heir-the-main-reason-for-reforms-to-the-english-church-in-this-period