Era of Reform Henry VIII
(1491 - 1547)
Era of Reform

English monarch who rejected the authority of the pope and who was named "supreme head of the church" in England.

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein

Henry's rejection of papal authority originated in a desire to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. After intricate diplomatic maneuvers, the pope refused to grant an annulment. Henry VIII then proceeded to reject papal authority in England, and in 1534 the so-called "Act of Supremacy" declared Henry VIII "the only supreme head of the Church of England." For a time after this Henry appeared to have some sympathy for Protestant doctrine, but later reversed himself. The end of his reign saw some steps toward reform in the Church of England, but no desire on the king's part to reform traditional Roman Catholic belief. The somewhat uncertain situation created by this attitude along with the rejection of papal authority in England created the complex religious situation inherited by his immediate successors, Edward VI and Elizabeth I.

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