Henry tore Christian England apart

Henry VIII - Anne Boleyn

King Henry VIII – Anne Boleyn

One man’s desire for a male heir, to continue the House of Tudor, tore Christian England apart.  A faith that had existed for years; the Roman Catholic Church, with the Pope as its leader, witnessed the creation of Protestant Christianity, with King Henry VIII, as head of the Church of England.

On the 11th June 1509, Henry married his brother’s widow; Catherine of Aragon in the Friary Church in Greenwich.  Henry claimed, they married as a deathbed wish of his father, but in reality he wanted an alliance with Catherine’s father; Ferdinand of Aragon.

Catherine gave birth to six children in all, yet only one would survive into adulthood; On the 18th February 1516, Catherine gave birth to a healthy daughter, and she was baptized Mary. It was at this point, Henry started believing that God was taunting him, for marrying his brother’s wife.  In 1524, Henry ceased sleeping with his 39–year-old wife; Catherine of Aragon, for she had not produced a male heir.

In 1526, Henry pursued Anne Boleyn, daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, displaying his courtly loves to her.

In 1527, this was the start of his annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, claiming it was invalid according to the scriptures:

Leviticus: Chapter 18 verse 16.

“You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; she is your brother’s nakedness.”  (This stated no man could have sex with his brother’s wife).

On the 22nd June 1527, Henry told Catherine he no longer considered her as his lawful wife.  Her reply, was that the marriage between herself and Arthur, Henry’s brother had not been consummated, making her marriage to Henry valid.

On the 23rd December 1527, William Knight, Henry’s diplomat went to Rome to negotiate the case on behalf of his King, to have his marriage to Catherine annulled.

Pope Clement gave a dispensation, that Henry could marry again, which meant that any child born would be classed as illegitimate.  What was omitted was any clause stating his first marriage was invalid.  For Henry this did not resolve the issue in hand, for he wanted a male heir to succeed him.

In the early months of 1528, bitter negotiations between the envoys for England and Rome, led to permission being granted on the 13th April, allowing Thomas Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio, to determine the case on English soil.

On the 31st May 1529, the case came before the “Legatine Court” and on the 18th June Catherine denied its right to hear the case, and registered her appeal with Rome.  On the 21st June, she knelt before her husband, her King at the hearing, stating she had been a good, faithful and obedient wife to him.  On the 25th June, she was charged with contempt, for failing to attend the hearing.  In July the case was adjourned, and Pope Clement recalled the case to Rome.

Pope Clement found himself in the middle, so to speak.  For on one side he had the English King; Henry VIII, who wanted an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, be approved by Rome so he could marry Anne Boleyn.  Whilst on the other hand, King Charles V Emperor of Spain threatened to invade England, if the Pope granted his request.

On the 7th March 1530, Pope Clement summoned Henry VIII to a matrimonial hearing in Rome.  The Pope refused an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and of his marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Thomas Wolsey fell out of favour with Henry VIII, for failing to obtain an annulment from the Pope.  On the 9th October, Thomas Wolsey was charged with exercising the papal office legate, illegally, primarily foreign jurisdiction on English soil.  On the 18th October, the “Great Seal” allowing the Lord Chancellor to exercise the King’s authority, was taken from him, for he no longer bore the right to hold it.

On the 25th October, the newly appointed Lord Chancellor; Sir Thomas More took up the post, made his oath, and received the “Great seal.”

On the 3rd November a bill of articles was presented to Parliament, which would see Thomas Wolsey indicted on the charge of treason.  On the 4th November, whilst at his diocese in York, Wolsey was arrested on the charge of high treason.  On the long journey south to stand trial, he died at Leicester Abbey in November of 1530.

On the 1st September 1532, Henry VIII made Anne Boleyn Marchioness of Pembroke, and on the 11th October she accompanied Henry to Calais for his meeting with the French King.

In the January of 1533, Anne announced to Henry she was with child, and on the 25th January they were secretly married.

In 1533 Henry introduced a bill in Parliament, declaring that he be the “Supreme Head” in England and no foreign court had jurisdiction in this land.  So it was, an English Ecclesiastical Court had no right to rule on Henry’s marriage.

On the 30th March, Thomas Cranmer was consecrated as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.  On the 5th April Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was ruled invalid.  On the 9th April Catherine was no longer Queen, and on the 12th April Anne Boleyn was proclaimed as the new Queen, and officially crowned Queen on the 1st June.

On the 11th July Pope Clement ordered Henry to separate from Anne, as the original annulment between himself and Catherine was lawful, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn was invalid.

On the 7th September 1533 Anne gave birth to her first child; a daughter and she was christened; Elizabeth.

Thomas Cromwell was entrusted with stamping out opposition to Henry and Anne’s marriage.  First on the list was Elizabeth Barton a Benedictine Nun, who was arrested in November on the charge of treason along with six of her followers.  On the 20th April 1534, they were all executed and their body parts were fixed to the city gates and London Bridge as a warning.

In February of 1534, Catherine of Aragon, the former Queen of England, had her title changed to “Dowager Princess of Wales.”

On the 23rd March 1534, an “Act of Succession” was passed in Parliament, validifying Henry and Anne’s marriage and the right of succession for their offspring.  All Henry’s subjects were also required to swear an oath or face life imprisonment.

In March of 1534, Parliament passed an act which would see an end to papal taxes.

On the 12th April Sir Thomas More was ordered to take the oath – he refused and on the 17th April he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and beheaded on the charge of treason on the 6th July 1535.

In May Catherine and Princess Mary, also refused to swear the oath; Catherine was banished to Kimbolton Castle and had no further contact with her daughter.

On the 25th September 1534, Pope Clement VII died and on the 13th October Alexander Farnese was the newly elected; Pope Paul III.

In November 1534, Parliament brought in a piece of legislation: “An Act of Supremacy” which ultimately recognised King Henry VIII as the “Head of the English Church.”  The act was designed to make it clear, that Parliament recognised Henry VIII as the true head of the “Church of England.”

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Tudor King: Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

Henry was born on the 28th June 1491 to parents Henry VII and Elizabeth of York at Greenwich Palace in London.  On the 21st April 1509 he ascended to the English throne upon the death of his father; Henry VII.

On the 11th June 1509 Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon at Greenwich, and on the 24th June was crowned King Henry VIII of England at Westminster Abbey.

On the 9th September 1509, James IV of Scotland was slain by Henry’s forces at the “Battle of Flodden.”

On the 24th December 1515, Thomas Wolsey became the new Archbishop of Canterbury following the resignation of Archbishop Warham.

On the 18th February 1516 Catherine bore Henry a baby daughter; Mary, not the son and heir he so desired, yet she would become Queen Mary I in later years.

On the 31st October in the year 1517, the Protestant Reformation begins when Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the church door at Wittenberg in Saxony.  He called for a debate on the legality of papal indulgences, granted to certain individuals for the remission of punishment after death for their sins.

On the 4th October 1518, the Pope and the Kings of England, France and Spain signed a bilateral treaty of peace in Europe.  The treaty was sealed with the marriage of Henry’s two-year old daughter Mary to the Dauphin in the Queen’s Chamber at Greenwich.

In May and June of 1520, Henry holds peace talks with Francis I of France at the “Field of the Cloth of Gold” an endeavour to achieve support against Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire… this ended with Mass held by Cardinal Wolsey.

On the 10th July Henry and Charles created a treaty of friendship.

On the 12th May 1521, Bishop Fisher of Rochester oversaw the burning of Martin Luther’s books at Paul’s Cross.

In April of 1521 an armed conflict was taking place between Francis I and Charles V against the agreed 1518 Treaty of London.

On the 29th July Thomas Wolsey was commissioned to mediate a peace treaty with Ambassadors From France and the Empire.

On the 29th May 1522 Henry formally declared war on France, and by 1523 the invasion on France had been abandoned.

In 1525 King Henry VIII had an affair with Mary Boleyn, and on the 4th March 1526, she gave birth to a son; Henry.

Henry’s illegitimate son; Henry Fitzroy was installed as a Knight of the Garter on the 7th June and on the 18th June 1525 became Duke of Richmond and Somerset showing to one and all, he be of Tudor and Beaufort ancestry.

Then on the 30th August Henry and the French Ambassadors signed the “Treaty of More.”

In 1526 Henry became totally infatuated by Anne Boleyn, and displayed a courtly love for her in public at the Shrove Tuesday jousts.

In 1527, Henry sought the annulment of his marriage to Catherine, so he could marry Anne Boleyn in an effort that she would bear him a royal son, and continue the royal line … his request was denied.

In 1529, Cardinal Wolsey is accused by Henry of committing high treason, his failure tom obtain the pope’s consent for his divorce. On the 9th October he is indicted in the Court of King’s Bench for illegal use, contrary to 14th century stature of “Praemunire.”  On the 18th October he surrendered his seal of office, and on the 25th October the seal was delivered to his successor; Sir Thomas More.

On the 3rd November, forty-four complaints against Wolsey were put forward and on the 4th November the following year he is arrested on high treason, and before he could be brought to trial, he died on the 29th November 1530.

On the 1st September 1532, Henry presented Anne Boleyn as his future consort, and she received the title “Marchioness of Pembroke.”  In the autumn, Anne informs Henry she is with child.  On the 25th January 1533 King Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn and on the 7th September she gives birth to a daughter; Elizabeth, who would grow up to be the last Tudor Queen of England.

In 1534 Parliament passed acts on successions to the English throne, without Rome having its say, and his subjects were required to swear an oath of allegiance.

On the 12th April Sir Thomas More refused, and on the 17th April Bishop Fisher refused, and they were imprisoned in the Tower of London to await their fate.  On the 22nd June Bishop Fisher an outspoken critic of the King’s marriage annulment was beheaded on Tower Hill, followed by Thomas More on the 6th July 1535.

In January of 1535, Thomas Cromwell the newly appointed vicar-general over the church, ordered a census of ecclesiastical wealth across the land for tax purposes.

Six cannon lawyers were appointed to visit monasteries, in need of reform, but the true nature was to give Henry the legal right to confiscate their wealth.  So it began in April of 1536 the “Dissolution of the Monasteries.”

In March of 1536, Parliament passed a law closing smaller monasteries whose income was less that £200 per year.

Royal commissioners arranged the dispersal of Monks and Nuns, using their assets to pay off servants and workers, then selling off household and farming stock, then installing tenants of the Crown.

All precious metals, ornaments etc became the property of the crown.  In short the Crown was raiding these monasteries, with the approval of Parliament, to bolster their funds.

Some 800 monasteries and holy houses along with 10,000 monks, canons, nuns and friars had been scattered through England and Wales over a four year period.

On the 7th January Queen Catherine of Aragon dies at Kimbolton Castle in 1536, and was buried at Peterborough Abbey.

On the 2nd May, Queen Anne Boleyn along with her brother George were arrested on charges of incest and treason.  On the 19th May, Queen Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill and buried in the Chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula.

On the 20th May, Henry was betrothed to Jane Seymour, married on the 30th May and proclaimed Queen on the 4th June.

On the 8th June, Parliament excluded Anne Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth, from the succession of Queen of England.

On the 12th October 1537, Queen Jane gave birth to a son; Edward who was baptised on the 15th October.  On the 24th October Queen Jane Seymour died and on the 12th November she was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor.

On the 6th January 1540, Henry married Anne of Cleaves, and by the 4th February he wanted the marriage annulled, as she was not a suitable Queen.

On the 10th June Thomas Cromwell was arrested, charged with treason, heresy, extortion and corruption, and on the 28th July was executed on Tower Hill.

On the 28th July 1540 Henry married Kathryn Howard at Oatlands Palace in Surrey, it wasn’t long before news reached his ears on the 2nd November 1541, from Archbishop Cramer, that his new Queen had taken two lover’s prior to her marriage.  On the 8th November, she admitted her guilt, and on the 13th February was executed at Tower Hill.

On the 14th December 1542, James V of Scotland died, and succeeded by his six day old daughter; Mary Queen of Scots.  On the 1st July 1543 King Henry VIII and Scottish commissioners sign the “Treaty of Greenwich,” the proposed marriage between Prince Edward and Mary, Queen of Scots.  On the 11th December the Scottish Parliament, formally withdrew from the terms of the treaty, and reaffirmed their alliance with France.

On the 12th July 1543 Henry VIII marries Katherine Parr.

In March of 1544, Parliament restores the line of royal succession, for Henry’s illegitimate off-spring after Prince Edward; Mary then Elizabeth.

On the 19th July 1545, a French fleet of some 235 ships sailed towards the Isle of Wight, and came under attack, by the English fleet commanded by the Lord High Admiral; John Dudley, Viscount Lisle.  On this day, the second ship of the line; “The Mary Rose” England’s first gunship built in 1509, capsized and sank.

On the 28th January 1547 King Henry VIII of England died at the Palace of Whitehall, and was buried in St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle alongside his beloved wife and Queen; Jane Seymour.

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Dissolution of the Monasteries

Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey

King Henry VIII ascended to the English throne on the 21st April 1509, upon the death of his father; Henry VII.  On the 24th June 1509, Henry married Catherine of Aragon, his brother Arthur’s widowed wife, with dispensation to marry from the Pope.  She bore Henry, one child, a daughter; Mary.

The Reformation of Tudor England, came about when his desire for a son and heir to continue the House of Tudor, was not being fulfilled by his wife; Catherine of Aragon.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the son of a Suffolk wool merchant, made the request of the Pope, head of the Catholic Church in Rome, based on the fact that his wife, had failed to give birth to a son and heir.

The Pope denied the request… and Cardinal Wolsey was removed from his post by Henry VIII and died before being brought to trial on the charge of treason.

Thomas More was appointed Chancellor, but all too quickly he opposed the divorce, and Henry had him executed.

Henry’s wrangling’s with the Pope deepened so much that an act was passed by Parliament; “Act of Supremacy” in 1534 which confirmed England’s break with Rome, and the creation of the Church of England, with Henry at its head.  The Catholic Church in England, answerable to the Pope in Rome was no more.

Church officials were seen as rich figureheads, far removed from their spiritual roots, there to serve the people and help the poor.

Thomas Cromwell instigated a public campaign, making monasteries appear corrupt, and organised a census of ecclesiastical wealth for tax purposes in 1535.

In 1536 Henry needed money, but demanding new taxes against its people through Parliament to pay for wars with France, would meet many barriers.

Henry’s lavish lifestyle and funds to pay for wars, led to the “Dissolution of the Monasteries,” against these wealthy institutions.

The “Act of Suppression” of 1536 was aimed at monasteries whose income was less than £200 per year was closed.  Buildings, land and money confiscated by the Crown.  The “Second Suppression Act” of 1539 saw the dissolution of larger monasteries.

Monastic buildings were sold to wealthy gentry, who sympathised with Henry’s break from Rome, whilst other buildings were a source of building materials for local inhabitants.  Those who benefited the most, was not the King, for in his haste he sold much off at a fraction of its true worth.

So what happened to the Monks, Friars and Nuns?  Most received a pension for life, some joined mainstream churches.  As for their servants they were hardest hit.  With no money they joined the ranks of the poor and homeless.

When we think of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many priceless manuscripts, statues, rood screens and icons were destroyed; their historic value was never considered.

The infrastructure of Monasteries and Abbey’s within the Kingdom of Henry VIII had been largely destroyed and the association with the Pope, all but gone.

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English Civil War

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the English throne on the 17th November 1558 and crowned on the 15th January 1559, at Westminster.  She was the last Tudor monarch to sit upon the throne, and upon her death on the 24th March 1603, she had died, without an heir.

The English throne passed to her cousin; James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley.  On the 9th February 1567 Darnley was murdered and in the June Mary was imprisoned at Lochleven Castle.  Mary abdicated her crown, passing it to her son James, who was crowned King James VI of Scotland on the 29th July 1567.  In 1568 Mary escaped and fled across the border into England, expecting support from Queen Elizabeth.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary, became Queen Elizabeth’s prisoner, and on the 25th October 1586, was sentenced to death for plotting against Queen Elizabeth’s life, and on the 8th February 1587 died at the hands of her executioner at Fotheringhay Castle.

King James I

King James I

King James VI of Scotland, ascended to the English throne on the 24th July 1603, and was crowned King James I of England at Westminster Abbey on the 25th July.

England, Scotland and Ireland, had become united, under a single monarch; King James I of England, of the Stuart dynasty.

James believed that Kings took their authority from God, but accepted his actions were subject to the laws of the land.  He was often in dispute with Parliament, over the royal finances, as his predecessors have been, before him.

King James I of England reigned for 22 years and as James VI of Scotland, reigned for 57 years, died on the 27th March 1625.

King Charles I

King Charles I

Charles I, son of King James I and Anne of Denmark ascended to the English throne on the 27th March 1625.  On the 1st May 1625 Charles had married Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV of France by proxy in front of Notre Dame in Paris.  On the 13th June 1625 Charles I of England married Henrietta Maria in Canterbury.  Charles I was crowned King of England on the  2nd February 1626 at Westminster Abbey, without his wife, his Queen at his side.  She being a Roman Catholic would not participate in a Protestant religious ceremony.

Charles had informed Parliament, that a marriage to a Roman Catholic would not change religious lifestyle of a Protestant England.  Saying that he added to the French treaty of marriage, that he promised to remove all restraints, upon Catholic subjects residing in England.

Charles I had delayed the opening of his first Parliament, until the marriage ceremony had taken place on English soil.

Charles believed, much as his father had before him, it was his divine right as King, to rule without interference from Parliament.

Charles forces through highly unpopular “Ship Money,” tax to raise funds without the consent of Parliament.  They replied in 1628 by presenting him with the Petition of Right a declaration of the “Rights and Liberties of the Subject,” which under pressure, he had no choice but to abide by its terms.

In 1629 Charles steps forward and dissolves Parliament, and opted to rule as he believes it is his divine right from 1629 – 1640.

The Short Parliament, met in April of 1640, and the main topic, led to their refusal to grant Charles funds, until grievances between the two sides had been ironed out.  A stale mate existed and Parliament was dissolved once again.

In November of 1640, the Long Parliament was assembled, and an Act was passed, preventing the dissolvement of Parliament without consent of all parties.

Charles and Parliament, could not work with each other, they were at odds with each other.  Charles failure of 4th January 1642, of arresting five parliamentary leaders, believed Parliament had become too Puritanical.

The King and Parliament were on different sides of the fence, and the English Civil War between Royalists and Parliamentarians, was a powder keg waiting to explode.

Charles I, felt he had no choice, and on the 22nd August 1642, withdrew from London, and declared war on Parliament, raising his standard at Nottingham.  The English Civil War of 1642-1648 had begun.

In October 1642, the Royalists won a tactical victory over Parliamentary forces at the “Battle of Edgehill.”

Henrietta Maria of France

Henrietta Maria of France

In 1643 Henrietta Maria, actively supported her husband, landing at Bridlington, Yorkshire, with a ship laden down with men and arms, to fight the Royalist cause.

In 1643 Royalists defeated Parliamentary forces at the “Battle of Chalgrove Field,” with the taking of Bristol.

Oliver Cromwell by History Heroes

Oliver Cromwell

On the 16th June 1645, Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army defeated Royalist forces.

In April of 1646, Charles barely escapes with his life from the “Siege of Oxford,” surrendering at Newark to the Scottish Army.

In January 1647, Scottish forces handed Charles I, over to Parliamentary forces, and in June Cromwell’s forces escorted him to Hampton Court Palace.  In the November he briefly escapes, and is recaptured and held at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

In January of 1649, a court of justice is convened by the House of Commons, to hear the case against King Charles I.  For, he has been accused of treason against England; pursuing his own objectives, rather than those of England.

Charles refused to plead, in the belief the court was unlawful, and that the monarch, had absolute authority of his kingdom, granted to him by God.

The court challenged the question of sovereign immunity, stating the King of England, was not a person, but an office to govern by the laws of the land.

On the 26th January 1649, the court had found him guilty, and sentenced him to death.  On Tuesday the 30th January 1649, King Charles I of England was beheaded in front of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London.

An act of Parliament was passed, on the 30th January 1649, forbidding the automatic succession of the son of Charles I.  On the 7th February, the office of the King had been abolished.

Main Battles of the English Civil War:

Battle of Edgehill: 23rd October 1642

The Earl of Essex commanded Parliamentarian forces, their aim to prevent King Charles and his army reaching London.  Parliamentarian and Royalist forces met at Edgehill mid-afternoon of the 23rd October.

Both armies faced each other in traditional battle formation; cavalry units and dragoons on the right, and left flanks, infantry to the middle.  The Parliamentarians had two cavalry regiments to the rear.

Prince Rupert led the Royalist army; leading his cavalry unit in a charge, which saw Parliamentarian cavalry and infantry flee the scene.  Royalist infantry forces advanced into battle, inflicting losses and causing panic and confusion to their opposing armies.  By night, the battle was all but over, neith side had won, but each claimed victory over the other.  The Royalists had their chance to capitalise against the Parliamentarian army, and bring the war to a quick end.

Battle of Marston Moor: 2nd July 1644

Parliamentarian and Scottish forces attacked York.  Royalist forces and the York garrison met their attackers on Marston Moor.

The battle started late in the day, Royalist cavalry advanced on Parliamentarian infantry causing high losses.  Then a surprise attack to the rear of the Royalists; Oliver Cromwell attacked with his cavalry, defeating the Royalists, and many surrendered.

The Parliamentarians had won the battle of Marston Moor.  York surrendered two weeks later.  The north was now effectively under the control of the Parliamentarians and Scottish forces.  Their decisive victory had almost wiped out the Royalist northern field army.  Oliver Cromwell was seen as an effective commander.  His strong leadership and the discipline of his men had played a crucial role in winning the battle.

Battle of Naesby: 14th June 1645

Sir Thomas Fairfax, commander of the Parliamentarian New Model Army had been ordered to break off his siege of Oxford.  The Royalist Army of King Charles I had taken the Parliamentarian garrison at Leicester.  The New Model Army marched north with orders to attack the Royalists.  King Charles marched south to aid Oxford.  At Daventry, King Charles discovered that Fairfax and the New Model Army were closing in on his army.

The Parliamentary forces had taken up position on the ridge, just outside Naseby.  The Royalists drew first blood.  The Parliamentarian infantry were forced back and some of their cavalry fled.  Prince Rupert and his cavalry units left the field and headed for the Parliamentarian baggage train at Naseby.  Oliver Cromwell, commander of the right flank of cavalry units successfully repelled a Royalist cavalry charge and then sent units to attack behind their lines, as Parliamentarian forces regrouped.  The Royalist infantry was defeated.  Some surrendered, whilst others fled.  Prince Rupert returned to the battlefield but his men refused to fight.  The New Model Army had won a decisive victory.

Naseby was the beginning of the end of the first English Civil War.  King Charles had lost his main Royal Army.  As well as the loss of his infantry, horses, field arms, artillery and gunpowder.  These resources of the King lost, and replacements would not be that easy…

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Source Material:
The English Civil War by Maurice Ashley                                          
Civil War by Taylor Downing & Maggie Millman                      
Warfare – Renaissance to Revolution by Jeremy Black                       
Short History of England by Simon Jenkins                                          
A History of Britain by Richard Dargie