Henry VIII – English Literature Essay (100 Level Course)

Henry VIII was the ideal Renaissance monarch, since he was scholar, poet, musician and sportsman. He had a securer title to the throne than his father,who had fought a war to win it. He also had more wealth than

his predecessors. England did not, however, have the power of France or Spain; Henry’s aim, therefore, was to maintain the balance of power between the great two European nations for as long as possible.

The most important event of this period was the breach with Rome, which took place under Henry VIII, although the causes of the rupture may be traced to previous centuries. The anticlericalism widespread among the English had already appeared in the long and tragic quarrel between Henry II and Thomas à Becket in the 12th century.

In addition to this, the teaching of Wycliffe, the Lollard movement and reading the Bible had produced a great number of laymen able to think for themselves and deny the absolute authority of the Church in questions of doc trine and morality.

Many English people respected religion, but disliked clerical dominance, as the higher clergy extorted money in many ways and were often immoral and corrupt.