The Marital Reformation of England

How was the English Reformation different from the German Reformation?

 

In my view, the English Reformation can be interpreted as a marital reformation so, with that being said, the German Reformation was not in any way a marital reformation.

Poor king Henry VIII of England was married to his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, who had not brought any male heirs into the world during Henry’s marriage to her.  In addition to the fact that Henry did not have a male heir, Henry was in love with another woman, Anne Boleyn.  Henry sought to annul his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne but the Catholic Church would not grant him his wishes.  With the Catholic Church against his desires, Henry decided to separate England from the Church’s authority and establish the Church of England.  With the help of Thomas Crammer, Archbishop of Canterbury (a powerful church official position), Henry was able to annul his marriage to Catherine just in the nick of time before his secret wife, Anne, gave birth to his child.

Under the Act of Supremacy in 1534 Henry VIII was made the supreme head of the Church of England.  Anyone who resisted or denied him as the supreme one faced the death penalty.  Such men as Lord Chancellor Thomas More, the author of Utopia, and Bishop John Fisher were executed because of their steadfast hold on their Catholic opinions.

Later on, under Henry and Crammer’s orders, Anne Boleyn was charged with false treason and executed.  The false charges were made up mainly because she too had not provided Henry with a male heir and Henry’s romantic devotion was being directed elsewhere towards another woman, Jane Seymour.

Jane and Henry marry and she dies a few weeks after giving Henry a male heir.  In 1537 Henry marries Anne of Cleves, an unattractive German Princess.  This marriage was also annulled do to the unpleasing appearance of Anne.  Catherine Howard, his next wife was 19 when they married in 1540.  Two years into their marriage she was executed for adultery.  Catherine Paar was his lucky wife, for she outlived Henry.

In the midst of all of Henry’s marriage complications England continued to be separate from the Catholic Church.  Just because England was separate from the Church did not mean that the nation was Protestant because Henry did not follow Protestant beliefs.  As I explained previously, the English Reformation was mainly a way to separate from the Catholic Church’s power in order to obtain a few marital reformations, whereas the German reformation was based more on religious beliefs.

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