“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” National College
Specialization: Philology - Bilingual English
The triumphant reign of Henry the
Coordinating Professors: Mariana Gaiu
Student: Irina Stan
Social background of the age
2.1 Henry VIII’s character
2.2 Cardinal Wolsey
2.3 Henry VIII & Christianity
Popular religious idealism
Christian Humanism and the influence of Greek learning
2.4 Henrician Reformation
Henry VIII’s first divorce
Supreme head of the Ecclesia Anglicana
The dissolution of the religious houses
2.5 The matrimonial adventures of Henry VIII
2.6 An extension of English hegemony
The Union of England and Wales
Tudor Irish policy
The need to control Scotland
The age of the Tudors has left its impact on Anglo-American minds as a watershed in British history. Hallowed tradition, native patriotism, and post imperial gloom have united to swell our appreciation of the period as a true golden age. Names alone evoke a phoenix-glow – Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Mary Stuart among the sovereigns of England and Scotland; Wolsey, William Cecil, and Leicester among the politicians; Marlowe, Shakespeare, Hilliard, and Byrd among the creative artists. The splendors of the Court of Henry VIII, the fortitude of Sir Thomas More, the making of the English Bible, Prayer Book, and Anglican Church, the development of Parliament, the defeat of the Armada, the Shakespearian moment, and the legacy of Tudor domestic architecture – there are the undoubted climaxes of a simplified orthodoxy in which genius, romance, and tragedy are superabundant. Reality is inevitably more complex, less glamorous, and more interesting than myth. The most potent forces within Tudor England were often social, economic, and demographic ones. Thus if the period became a golden age, it was primarily because the considerable growth in population that occurred between 1500 and the death of Elizabeth I did not so dangerously exceed the capacity of available resources, particularly food supplies, as to precipitate a Malthusian crisis. Famine and disease unquestionably disrupted and disturbed the Tudor economy, but they did not raze it to its foundations, as in the fourteenth century. More positively, the increased manpower and demand that sprang from rising population stimulated economic growth and the commercialization of agriculture, encouraged trade and urban renewal, inspired a housing revolution, enhanced the sophistication of English manners, especially in London, and (more arguably) bolstered new and exciting attitudes among Tudor Englishmen, notably individualistic ones derived from Reformation ideals and Calvinist theology.
In order to present a clear picture of 16th century England, we considered depicting Henry VIII reign in a period of instability from the point of view of religion and state limits. The king’s egoism, self-righteousness, and unlimited capacity to brood over suspected wrongs, or petty slights, sprang from the fatal combination of a relatively able but distinctly second—rate mind and a pronounced inferiority complex that derived from Henry VII’s treatment of his second son. For the first of the Tudors had found his younger son unsatisfactory; on Arthur’s death, Henry had been given no functions beyond the title of Prince of Wales—a signal of unmistakable mistrust. As a result, Henry VIII had resolved to rule, even where, as in the case of the Church, it would have been enough merely to reign. He would put monarchic theory into practice; would give the words Rex Imperator a meaning never dreamt of even by the emperors of Rome, if he possibly could. Henry was...
Bibliography: C.S.L.Davies, Peace, Print and Protestantism, 1450-1558 (London, 1976), a lucid introduction
especially useful on social and economic history.
G.R.Elton, Reform and Reformation: England 1509-1558 (London, 1977), the best-informed
acoount of the early Tudors.
A.G.Dickens, The English Reformation (London, 1964), a dispassionate and comprehensive
G.Donaldson, All the Queen’s Men: Power and Politics in Mary Stewart’s Scotland (London,
J.Wormald, Court, Kirk, and Community, 1470-1625 (London, 1981), the best survey of early
S.B.Chrimes, Henry VII (London, 1972), a sound synthesis of recent research.
J.J.Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (London, 1968), an enthralling and original biography accepted as
A.F.Pollard, Wolsey (London, 1929), a dated but indispensable work.
A.Fox, Thomas More: History and Providence (Oxford, 1982), the best biography, achieving a
breakthrough in its understanding of More’s mind.
D.M.Loades, The Reign of Mary Tudor (London, 1979), a solid but essential conspectus.
Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth, Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth (London,
1955, 1960), a two-volume study valuable on diplomacy, but which pays insufficient attention
G.R.Elton, Reform and Renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the Common Weal (Cambridge, 1973),
the most convincing portrait of Thomas Cromwell by the leading authority.
M.Bush, The Government Policy of Protector Somerset (London, 1975), an important anatomy
of Somerset’s obsessions.
j.Loach and R.Tittler (eds.), The Mid-Tudor Polity (London, 1980), a provocative collection of
essays by revisionist historians.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document