In this paper I am going to give an account of the English Reformation in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, and how it affected English society. We are going to see how the sovereignity of Christianity lasted until Henry VIII decided to change the head of it. But not only he had these reformation ideas, the following rulers ofEngland made more changes over the former religion. Religion in England was a controvertial matter for many centuries. From its origins, it has suffered many changes. The biggest shift began when the Roman Empire finally made its first arrival to the island and imposed christianity over celtic religions. After that, the different kings of England owed alligance to the papacy in Rome until HenryVIII made a rupture with them. During his reign, it started the beginning of the end for christianity in England. Afterwards, I will expose how Elizabeth I dealt with the problems stated in this sentence: “Scotland, France, The Netherlands and Spain provided a problem which had to be solved if England was to be saved”.
Changes in religion and their impact on society
At the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII there were not problems with the church. The king and the Christian clergy ruled the land hand by hand. This period is characterized by despotism. The young king was educated in the new learning of the Reinassaince. Even though his mind was open for new ideas, he maintained Christianity as the religion of the state. During the firsttwenty years of his reign, Henry fought two wars with France and one with Spain. In the first war with France showed the great administrative talent of Thomas Wolsey, who would become the King´s principal minister and later, Cardinal. He wanted to dominate the church and introduced some reforms. Domination over the church was closer to his heart than its reform. He acquired so much power until hehad control over the province of York and Canterbury (the two bigger centres of church power). He also encouraged the appointment of foreigner bishops on the condition that he received part of the income. The conscence of his policies were the weakening and underminig of the position and influence of the bishops in the struggle that was to come.
After marrying Catherine of Aragon, and aftermany problems for conceiving a child, Henry finally got an heir, a female heir, called Mary. He was greatly worried about the succession because there would be grave dangers ahead: if she married a foreigner, people from abroad would rule the country, and if she married an Englishman, she –Mary- would arouse the jealousy of others. So Henry was still longing for a male heir. Nevertheless, therewas also another consideration, Henry fell in love with a Lady at court, Anne Boleyn. He questioned the validity of his marriage and asked for the divorse. This question could be settled only be the Pope, Clement VIII, in Rome. He would have probably found a solution, but he was under the power of Charles of Spain, who was Catherine´s nephew, and wanted to be the ruler of both kingdoms:Spanish-German and English. Charles was a powerful ruler, and invaded Italy and the Pope was under his command so this was another reason for not giving the annulment of marriage. So Henry accuses Wolsey of treason and excecutes him, appealing to the Act of Attendeir, stated by Henry VII, in which there would be a court for the ones accused of treason, they would execute him and confiscate their lands andproperty. Henry is given the idea of breaking with the Pope. Society did not like Anne Boleyn, they considered her an “outsider”. The nobles and the church –due to her protestant ideas- were opposing to this marriege. People sympathized with Catherine, they considered her, their rightful queen. Finally the annulment was made and Catherine returned to Spain and Mary was sent to France.