The History of Anglicanism is a very fascinating part of English history, and often a misunderstood part as well. Many believe erroneously that Anglicanism came about purely as a result of King Henry VIII desiring a new wife, and creating a new religion was the only way to do so. The truth is a good deal more complicated. There is also the fascinating shift from Anglicanism being essentially Catholic, just with a different head of church, to be being one of Catholicism’s greatest opponents in European politics.
II. The Pride of King Henry
King Henry VIII was a prideful man, full of fire and vigor, and despite being a devoted catholic in his early life, soon began to chafe at the notion of anyone other than God having power over him, which began his troubles with the Pope. Many people took Henry VIII’s break with Rome as complete proof of his status as a heretic, and in their defense, Henry VIII most certainly was a heretic from the point of view of a Roman Catholic or a Romanist. Many laymen were of course unaware of Henry VIII’s pathological need for control and the fact that the King hated having any authority above his own in any and all matters, both spiritual and secular, and so of course they just assumed his break with Rome and the Pope to be a purely spiritual matter. There are numerous examples of people accusing Henry VIII of heresy such as a layman named Henry Kylbrae in a discussion with the proprietor of the White Horse Inn in Cambridge, which was a hotbed of religious discussion. Kylbrae is known to have remarked that the King and all who held the King as the head of the Church were strong heretics indeed. The common people were not alone in this assertion. Several noblemen and noblewomen shared this sentiment, such as Mrs. Amadas who fervently believed, and hoped, that a crusade would be called Henry VIII overthrown, and the time of England’s independence would be gone. She hoped, indeed, that England would forever “Be known as a land of conquest.” However, for every claim of the Kings heresy, there were just as many assertions that Henry VIII was a true believer and that the Popists themselves were heretics.
Henry VIII had a huge problem with the English people not immediately understanding his every whim and desire, which is why several people took his position on the pope to be his position on the Catholic faith as a whole. Henry VIII thought that his subjects would see his position on a subject and immediately fall in line with it, but as this goes contrary to human nature, this almost never happened. People made assumptions about what Henry VIII wanted, and many had wildly different interpretations of something that was never intended to be interpreted. Henry VIII wanted what he wanted and that was what he expected his subjects to want as well.
III. The Little Tudors
After Henry came Edward, and then Mary, who are sometimes known as “The Little Tudors” Because their reigns were so...