The King’s Reformation

Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church
Bernard, G. W.
Date published: 
September 2005

Henry VIII’s reformation remains among the most crucial yet misunderstood events in English history. In this substantial new account Bernard presents the king as neither confused nor a pawn in the hands of manipulative factions. Henry, a monarch who ruled as well as reigned, is revealed instead as the determining mover of religious policy throughout this momentous period.

In his crucial campaign to secure a divorce FROM Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s strategy, as Bernard shows, was more consistent and more radical than historians have allowed. Henry attempted to determine the pace of religious change, refusing to introduce Lutheranism, but rather harnessing the rhetoric of the continental reformation in support of his royal supremacy. Convinced that the church needed urgent reform, in particular the purging of superstition and idolatry, Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries and the dismantling of the shrines were much more than a venal attempt to raise money. The King sought a middle way between Rome and Zurich, between Catholicism and its associated superstitions on one hand and the subversive radicalism of the reformers on the other. With a ruthlessness that verged on tyranny, Henry VIII orchestrated the successive events of the most important twenty years of England’s religious development