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Why did Henry VIII start the Church of England?

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England's King Henry VIII founded the Church of England because he wanted a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The Catholic Church had refused the king's request for a divorce, so the English monarch took matters into his own hands to get what he wanted.

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Why did Henry VIII start the Church of England?
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King Henry VIII of England is perhaps best known for his marital exploits, which led to the creation of the Church of England. Henry VIII was married six times, beginning with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Before marrying Henry, Catherine was married to Henry's brother Arthur, whose death made Henry the heir to their father's throne. Catherine was an important factor in England's alliance with Spain, and her stint as queen was political. The marriage resulted in the birth of one girl, Mary, and the king was disappointed that his first child was not a suitable male heir.

Catherine was older than him, and beautiful young women, including future second wife Anne Boleyn, were frequently in Henry's company. Henry sought a divorce from Catherine on the grounds that God was punishing him for marrying his brother's wife by refusing him a male heir. The Catholic Church, which had already issued a special order to grant King Henry the right to marry his deceased brother's wife, refused to grant the king his divorce, causing him to take matters into his own powerful hands, ordering Parliament to name him the head of the newly formed Church of England.

This move was a watershed moment in the history of the Protestant Reformation. Henry's subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn also resulted in the birth of a girl, Elizabeth, and that marriage ended not in divorce but with Anne's public beheading. However, King Henry VIII would use his self-generated divorce powers again to end his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

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Related Questions

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Q:

    Why was Henry VIII so important?

    A:

    Henry VIII was important because of the role he played in the Reformation when he separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church that refused his petition for divorce. The move to separate the English church from Rome resulted in the king's excommunication from the church, but Henry still held to core Catholic beliefs and theology despite the separation. Henry was named the Supreme Head of the Church of England, giving him the final say in anything related to the church.

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  • Q:

    How many wives did Henry VIII have?

    A:

    King Henry VIII of England had six wives, only one of whom survived the king's death. Two wives were executed, one died during child birth, and two marriages were annulled. These women were named, in order of marriage: Catherine of Aragon (marriage annulled), Anne Boleyn (executed), Jane Seymour (died in childbirth), Anne of Cleves (marriage annulled), Catherine Howard (executed) and Catherine Parr (survived).

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