Confused about what this essay question is actually asking... (Henry VIII) Watch

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Kiki09
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I suspect your teacher is trying to get you to question the older, stereotypical view that Henry VIII was responsible for the Reformation and was a Protestant reformer, helping to drive the Church of England forwards inexorably to the modern day and weigh it up against revisionist historians who suggest that it was not a smooth progress.
The blurb from the book 'The English Reformation' revisited gives an idea of this argument: "Twenty years ago, historians thought they understood the Reformation in England. Professor A. G. Dickens's elegant The English Reformation was then new, and highly influential: it seemed to show how national policy and developing reformist allegiance interacted to produce an acceptable and successful Protestant Reformation." There's a book by a historian Christopher Haigh, called 'English Reformations' which basically argues that there is are multiple Reformations before we get to the Church of England rather than just one 'The Reformation' and I seem to remember that that book argues that Henry was mainly politically motivated.

I think you are right that you could use his opposing Protestantism, the 6 articles, arresting extreme Protestants etc to argue that he isn't a Protestant reformer himself and is seeking to keep some of the traditional elements of the Catholic church.

BUT does the fact that Henry remains quite traditional in his beliefs mean that the Church didn't change much? After all, he did get rid of the monasteries (even if some historians argue his motivation was as much about their land and property as religious beliefs) which had a major impact on the religious landscape in England. He did also support moderate Protestants such as Cranmer which would have emboldened Protestants. Does the back pedalling towards conservatism at the end of his reign actually manage to undo the changes from earlier decades?

Personally, I think he does quite a lot to change the church (whether deliberately or incidentally) but that is not the same as meaning he was a Protestant or that he was motivated by purely by religious beliefs.
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