Q:

Why did Henry VIII break away from the Catholic Church?

A:

Quick Answer

Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church so that he could divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry his lover Anne Boleyn.

Continue Reading
Why did Henry VIII break away from the Catholic Church?
Credit: Universal Images Group / Contributor Universal Images Group Getty Images

Full Answer

The year was 1527, and Henry VIII wanted a male heir. Unfortunately, his wife was too old to bear a child, so he needed a new wife. At the time, divorce was not allowed in the Catholic Church, and if Henry got a divorce without the pope's permission, he could be excommunicated or kicked out of the church – a fate that would ultimately lead to an eternity in hell.

Henry asked the pope for a dispensation to get a divorce, but the pope would not grant him that. In response, Henry asked the archbishop of Canterbury to grant him a divorce, and the bishop had no choice but to comply. The pope was appalled, but Henry just used the occasion to split away from the Catholic Church and to establish the Church of England.

The break away from the Catholic Church had far reaching consequences, and it subverted the current world order. Prior to the break from the Catholic Church, the commonly accepted hierarchy was God, pope, king, but Henry thrust himself between the pope and God in a move that was unprecedented. Ultimately, the break opened the door for the Protestant Reformation to enter England, but that movement did not gain speed in the country until after Henry's death during the reign of Edward VII.

Learn more about Renaissance & Reformation

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What did King Henry VIII die of?

    A:

    There has never been an exact cause of death listed for King Henry VIII. Available information from the time leads to the assumption that he died of chronic heart and pulmonary failure.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    Why did Henry VIII change the religion of England?

    A:

    Henry VIII changed the religion of England because the Catholic church would not grant him a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. When Pope Clement VII refused to grant a special dispensation to annul the marriage, Henry got the Archbishop of Canterbury to comply and declared himself head of the church.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What were some of the changes made to the Church by Henry VIII?

    A:

    Two of the many changes that Henry VIII made to the Church during his reign were the rejection of papal authority through the Act of Supremacy, which made him the head of the Church in England, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which took land away from the Catholic Church in England and redistributed it to the king's supporters. Although Henry adhered to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, he did not recognize the authority of the pope in Rome, and he later persecuted Catholics.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why did Henry VIII create the Church of England?

    A:

    King Henry VIII created the Church of England in 1536 as a result of a dispute with the pope, who would not permit Henry to get a divorce from his wife and marry his long-time mistress. Henry's marital history started under a cloud of suspicion, as his marriage to Catherine of Aragon meant he was forming a union with his brother's widow. Whether his series of divorces was actually the result of his failure to produce a male heir or some other form of instability is a matter of some dispute, but the reason for forming the Anglican Church was to give Henry the right to act as the head of his own church and marry as he pleased.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore