England and the Reformation

Henry VIII

Between 1529 and 1537, Henry VIII worked tirelessly to separate the English Church from the Catholic Church, led by the Pope in Rome. He created an independent Church of England of which he was the head.

Henry needed to free himself from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who had not provided him with a male heir. However, the Papacy continually refused to annul the marriage.

After the Act of Supremacy had elevated Henry to head of the Church of England, he put into practice policies that would spread Protestantism throughout the country.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries saw finances and religious books removed from the English monasteries, followed by the destruction of the monasteries themselves. Church land was also confiscated and transferred to the Crown.

When Henry died, his heir Edward VI continued the new faith. After Edward's death, England reverted to Catholicism for a short time, under Queen Mary (Henry’s elder daughter).

When Mary died in 1558, her half-sister Elizabeth took the English throne and restored the Protestant faith.