Henry VIII and his Church

Richard Rex argues that the main inspiration for the king's pick-and-mix religion was neither Protestant nor Catholic but Hebraic.

Title page of Coverdale's English Bible of 1535 showing Henry VIII distributing the scriptures to his grateful subjects‘Of all the miracles and wonders of our time, I take the change of our sovereign lord’s opinion on matters concerning religion to be even the greatest’. Richard Morison, one of Thomas Cromwell’s pet humanists, made many such shrewd and perceptive comments on the Henrician Reformation. Assessing and explaining Henry’s change of opinion has challenged historians ever since. Judgements upon Henry’s achievement have ranged from ‘Catholicism without the pope’ through a via media to a rather conservative and ceremonial variant of Protestantism, a Reformation biding its time.

A theological hotchpot

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