A Divorce Triggered the Reformation

  In 1517, Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses against the Holy See on the main entrance of Wittenberg Church, opening the prelude to the Reformation, and the wave of reform swept the entire European continent. At this time, the United Kingdom, which was in a corner, was relatively calm. King Henry VIII of England hated the religious reform movement in Western Europe and ordered the burning of books that spread Protestant ideas. He was even named “Guardian of the Faith” by the Pope for his active opposition to Lutheranism, and Britain was regarded as a strong fortress of Catholicism. However, after a lapse of time, Henry VIII changed his previous attitude, broke with the Pope, carried out a huge religious reform in England, established Anglicanism as the Anglican Church, and completely destroyed the Pope’s long-term dominance in England. What caused Henry VIII to go from a devout Catholic to the Protestant road against Catholicism? Did the British Reformation stem from an accidental event or the inevitable result of historical evolution? This starts with Henry VIII’s marriage .
  Henry VIII’s father, Henry VII, started the Tudor dynasty. Henry VII was a very politically discerning monarch, and he made full use of the marriage of his children to strengthen the political status of England. The most powerful monarchy in Europe at that time was Spain, so Henry VII let his eldest son Arthur marry the princess Catherine of Spain. Unfortunately, the newlyweds have just been married for a year, and Arthur unfortunately passed away. Henry VII wanted to keep the marriage relationship with Spain, and he was not willing to let Catherine take back the dowry worth 5 million US dollars. So she proposed to marry her second son, Henry VIII, who had already succeeded the throne. According to Catholic custom, a younger brother is cursed to marry his elder brother’s wife: “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing…they shall have no children.” (“Bible, Old Testament, Leviticus”) However, Henry VII persuaded the Pope at the time to help and charter the marriage as a legal marriage. Henry VIII finally married Catherine, and for the first few years, the marriage was a happy one.
  The crisis of the marriage first manifested itself in the question of the heir to the throne. During the 16 years of marriage, Catherine gave birth to six daughters to Henry VIII, and only Mary survived. By 1525, when Catherine was forty years old and had not conceived for seven years, hopes of giving birth to a prince seemed to be dashed. And Mary was betrothed to a French prince at an early age. If there is no male descendant, will England eventually become a province of France? The Tudor Dynasty is facing a crisis on the issue of the king’s heir. Henry VIII was a devout catholic, familiar with the Bible, he naturally remembered the curses in the Bible, Old Testament, Leviticus, and he doubted whether his marriage with Catherine was really not blessed by God , The idea of ​​divorce gradually sprouted in my heart. At this time, Henry VIII fell in love with Catherine’s waitress, Anne, who was only twenty-four years old. Anne is extremely smart, she is not satisfied with being Henry’s mistress, her goal is to win the post. She did everything she could to make Henry madly infatuated with herself. According to a report sent by the papal envoy Lorenzo in February 1529: “Henry’s addiction to Anne has reached a self-heating level. Now, except for Anne, he has turned a blind eye, heard without hearing, and eaten without knowing the taste.” Come, Henry VIII is determined to divorce.
  Marriage is not easy, and divorce is even more difficult, because Henry and Catherine’s marriage involves intricate political interests. Henry VIII wanted the help of the Pope to allow them to divorce, which was the most appropriate and least controversial route. In 1527, the representative of the Pope, Cardinal Lorenzo, and the Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, formed a court to hear the divorce proceedings of the king and queen. In court, Catherine showed amazing courage to defend her dignity and firmly disagreed with the divorce, which disrupted Henry’s plans. Soon, the situation in Europe changed dramatically. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Rome, and Pope Clement VII became a prisoner of Charles V. Catherine was the aunt of Charles V. The Pope did not dare to offend Charles V anyway, so he did not approve the divorce of Henry and Catherine. As a result, the divorce case dragged on for more than two years and was ultimately fruitless. Henry VIII realized that the Pope was unreliable and had to seek help at home. He remembered the anti-church sentiment of the British people and decided to use this power to restrain the church. So he shrewdly turned to unite with the parliament, attacked the church through legislation, and gradually established his supreme authority, so as to achieve the purpose of divorce. On November 3, 1529, Henry convened the first meeting of the Reformation, which opened the prelude to the English Reformation. Although people did not realize that this was the beginning of the profound English Reformation, in fact, It just started quietly in this divorce case.
  In the English Reformation, the biggest beneficiary was undoubtedly Henry VIII. He not only achieved the goal of divorce from Catherine, but also strengthened his autocratic power through the Reformation, completely destroying the Pope’s long-term dominance in England. Established the king’s highest position in both secular and religious fields. “Henry ruined British history by falling in love with a woman,” said Michael Hirst, playwright on HBO’s hit series “The Tudors” and “The Golden Age.” What he said made sense. History is so wonderful, the inadvertent actions of historical figures may have a huge impact and change the course of history. Although there were profound political reasons and complicated international struggles behind the English Reformation, divorce was indeed the direct purpose of Henry VIII’s reformation. Perhaps, Michael’s sentence could be changed to “Henry VIII changed British history because of his divorce”.