Full Text for Church History 2- Volume 42 - The Success of the English Reformation (Video)

File 42. >> It doesn't sound like Barnes and Tyndale were especially successful. What accounts for the actual success of the reformation in England, then? Are we back to politics? >> That's exactly correct. We are back to politics. And in England, the great driver of politics is going to be the monarch. And here we're talking, of course, about Henry VIII. Now, Henry VIII was, in many ways, an attractive ruler. He was intelligent. He was hard working. At least to a certain degree. He was also well educated, thought of himself as something of a humanist, and, most importantly for our purposes, he was for many years a faithful son of the church, and for all of his life he was very suspicious of new ideas in religion, new doctrines. Now, in the 1520s, when Protestant ideas first began to circulate in England, Henry VIII actually wrote against Martin Luther. He wrote a Catholic response to Luther's great treatise on the Babylonian captivity of the church. You know, Luther's work in which he analyzes each of the seven sacraments. Well, Henry defended the medieval sacramental system, and so pleased was the Pope with the fact that the King of England actually wrote in defense of the Catholic church, that the Pope granted Henry VIII and Henry's successors a new title. Henry was permitted to call himself "defender of the faith." And that's still what the English monarchs call themselves, defenders of the faith. It's kind of ironic, then, that this man who was really very much attached to medieval Catholicism should have been the one who initiated the break from Rome. Now, why did Henry do that? Well, I think most people know something, and that is that Henry wanted a divorce. What's not always so clear in the popular mind is precisely why Henry wanted this divorce. Henry's marriage with his first wife, Catherine, was an arranged marriage. Henry's father, Catherine's father, arranged the marriage between the two even before Henry was King of England. Now, I should mention that Catherine's father was Ferdinand of Aragon. Her mother was Isabella of Castille. In other words, Ferdinand and Isabella, the two royal patrons of Christopher Columbus, were the parents of Catherine. Catherine of Aragon, as she was known. And Ferdinand arranged a marriage between Catherine and well, first of all, it was with Henry's older brother, Arthur, who was the heir to the throne. So Arthur and Catherine were originally married. And then when Arthur died, in order that the relationship between the two countries not collapse, Henry was married to Catherine. Now, this particular kind of marriage, a marriage of a man to his sister in law, was in violation of church law. But not to matter. The fathers could make an arrangement with the Pope for a dispensation from that particular church law, and so the marriage took place. Now, as far as royal marriages are concerned, this was a pretty good one. Catherine and Henry lived together as man and wife. Catherine actually conceived six children by her husband, Henry. Unfortunately for the couple, however, only one of those children survived infancy and that was a daughter, a daughter whom they named Mary. So as time was going on, indeed as we get to about the middle of the 1520s, it's becoming evident that Catherine is not going to produce a male heir for Henry, the King of England. And this was one of the things that proved problematical about this first marriage. England had experienced a great deal of dynastic strife in the 15th century, a period of time sometimes called the War of the Roses, and they were only about a generation removed from that dynastic strife. England had not had much experience with a female ruler before the 16th century, and the one previous instance had occurred way back in the Middle Ages and when a girl had inherited the throne, civil war had broken out. So there was a lot of fear on Henry's part and the part of his advisors that leaving the throne to a daughter could precipitate, again, a period of dynastic strive of civil war, so this was something Henry was concerned about. Moreover, Henry had desire had developed something of a tender conscience about his first marriage, and that was that on his reading of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament book of Leviticus, he believed that a marriage to your sister in law, your widowed sister in law, violated God's law, violated God's moral law. And he came to believe that a Pope could not dispense from that from that moral law. So he wanted a divorce for dynastic reasons, but also, if you will, for conscience reasons. But then there was a third issue, too. One that I guess we moderns are kind of more more in tune with, and that is, he had fallen in love with another woman. This was a lady of the court. Her name was Anne. Anne Boleyn. And she didn't want to become just the King's mistress; she wanted to become the King's queen. And all of these issues were working together in Henry, and so he approached the Pope for a divorce. Technically, it would have been an annulment, a statement that that first marriage was never a lawful marriage. Catherine, his queen, resisted this. She wasn't interested in playing along with Henry in this matter. And it was something of a diplomatic problem for Henry to actually obtain what he wanted from the Pope, since Catherine was related to the Royal House of Spain and the ruler of Spain was Charles, who was not only the King of Spain, he was also the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and in the 1520s, he was often in Italy fighting to impose his rule upon various places and territories. Sometimes he was fighting just the King of France, but other times he was fighting also the Pope, as well as the King of France. And in 1527, the emperor's men actually took the city of Rome, and for a while the Pope was kind of the virtual prisoner of the emperor in the city of Rome. That was in in 1527, as I said. So there are all kinds of things going on politically and diplomatically which make it virtually impossible for the Pope to give to Henry what he wants, and that is, a divorce from his first wife so that he can marry the second wife. That is, Anne Boleyn. Well, in the late 1520s, Henry decides to use a little kind of political pressure against the Pope by calling into session Parliament. Now, Parliament was a medieval institution that came into being only when the King called it into being. It was what we might call a representative institution but it was hardly a democratic institution. It consisted of two houses. One house was the were the nobility, also the church nobility, so the titled land of nobility as well as the bishops and the abbots of the principal monasteries were represented in the upper house. And then in the lower house, you had representatives of the boroughs or cities and of the shires or counties, and they were chosen by wealthy property owners in those places. So it was I'd say you could say it's a representative institution but not a democratic institution. At any rate, Henry calls it into being in 1529 and he proceeds to promote legislation and statements in the Parliament that will pressure pressure the Pope into granting the divorce. The Pope never grants that divorce, and the pressure through Parliament gradually becomes legislation that separates the church in England from the Papacy. So, for example, there is an act entitled an Act in Restraint of Appeals, and what this law did was to prohibit any appeals from the church courts in England to courts outside of England, including even the Pope's courts. This meant that if the church courts in England would grant the divorce, then you couldn't appeal from England to the Pope. So that was one way in which the church was being separated from the Papacy. But in spite of the pressure, the Pope simply refused to grant what Henry wanted, and so we find in 1534 legislation being passed that actually separated the church in England formally from the Pope. An act known as the Act of Supremacy declared that the King of England was the supreme head of the church in England, and that meant replacing Papal power in England was the King of England. So that as of the mid 1530s, the church of England was in a schismatic relationship with the church of Rome and the King of England had replaced the Pope as the one who was kind of head of the church structure in England.