By Lorenzo Iovannisci (Breathe Your English)
In the period that coincided with the rise of the Tudor dynasty England changed from medieval to a modern country. Medieval England had been governed by feudalis.
Education had been confirmed largely to the monastries and the country had been directed by the Church of Rome. Now everything changed.
The period that began with the first Tudor monarch was marked by the growth of a powerful central govrnment , and by the break with Rome and the English Reformation; it was also a time of discovery: of the new world on one hand , and of the ancient world of the classic on the other. Man’s thinking expanded and England shared in the birth of classical learning called the Reinassence.
Richard III , who reigned from 1483 to 1485, was the last Plantagenet king and the last king of teh House of York.
Rebellion against him led to te ‘War of Roses’ , which ended with the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Richard of York, whose symbol was a white rose, was defeated and killed by the army of Henry VII and married Richard’s niece, Elizabeth of York, to unite the two feuding families.
During his reign, Henry unified the nation, limited the power of the nobles and strenghtened the power of the throne. The system of government he inaugurated was so strog that we sometimes call it ‘ the Tudor Despotism’ Henry was the second son of Henry VII, first of the Tudor line, and Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV, first king of the short-lived line of York.
When his elder brother, Arthur, died in 1502, Henry became the heir to the throne; of all the Tudor monarchs, he alone spent his childhood in calm expectation of the crown, which helped give an assurance of majesty and righteousness to his willful, ebullient character. He excelled in book learning as well as in the physical exercises of an aristocratic society, and, when in 1509 he ascended the throne, great things were expected of him. Six feet tall, powerfully built, and a tireless athlete, huntsman, and dancer, he promised England the joys of spring after the long winter of Henry VII’s reign.
Soon after his accession, Henry married Catherine of Aragon Arthur’s widow, his brother.
The broke with Rome Henry was intelligent , athletic and cultured , a true model of the New Reinassence man. He was a devoted Catholic and his book Defence of the Seven Sacraments, which wad strongly critical of The Martin Luther’s protestant movement in Germany, won him the title of Defender of the Faith, awarded by the Pope.
As the years went by, Henry became seriously perturbed that there wasn’t male heir to the throne. Though he had a daughter, MARY, no queen had ever ruled over England, and if he died without the succession being settled, it was likely that the system of government set up by the Tudors would break down.
Henry applied to the Pope ( Clement VII) to annul hi s marriage. However the Pope was unwilling to offend the Holy Roman Emperor, Charle V, who was Catherine’s nephew, and he rejected the request. In january 1533 Henry VIII commanded the Archibishop of Canterbury to declare the marriage void and, in a secret ceremony, he married Anne Boleyn. This act was a major challenge to the authority of the Pope and led to the break with Rome. In 1534 the Act of Supremacy confirmed Henry the VIII supreme head of the Curch of England and separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. The break with Rome was a huge encouragement to Protestants in England. Henry VIII, however, never became a Protestant. He was determined to uphold the Catholic faith in everything save the supremacy of the Pope.
(1) Spicci T. Alan Shaw – Amazing minds