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Important Terms, People, and Events


catholic -   · A strict adherence to orthodox religious convictions, though not necessarily allegiance to the authority of the Pope; distinguished from the capitalized "Catholic" which relates to membership in the Roman Church.
Church of England -  Name given to the established Christian church in England after Henry's break with Rome, formalized in the 1534 Act of Supremacy; acknowledges the English king, in the place formerly acknowledged to be the Roman pope's, as the supreme authority on earth in matters of faith and of church governance.
constitutional monarchy -   · A form of government where the king's right to make law is acknowledged and supported formally by a legislative body, such as the English Parliament, and where effective rule is shared among the several branches of the government.
dispensation -   · An official granting of permission by the Pope to act contrary to a law or custom of the Church.
episcopal see -   · The seat of a bishop's office, power, and authority; a town with a cathedral.
heresy -   · In the context of the English Reformation, a doctrine contrary to the basic theological and sacramental teachings of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. Under Henry's government, it was considered a crime, punishable usually by burning at the stake.
humanism -   · A new form of learning in the early sixteenth century, notable for its critical analysis of ancient texts, especially classical Greek texts. Its focus was more literary and historical than was that of the medieval tradition of learning. It was promoted in England by Henry VIII and by his minister Sir Thomas More.
king's council -   · An informal group of advisers to the king, some of whom had regular access to him in the private quarters of the palace; formalized as an institution known as the Privy Council in 1536.
orthodox -   · In the context of the English Reformation, a term describing dogmatic consistency with the fundamental tenets of the Catholic Church–for example, the belief in Transubstantiation. Henry VIII sought to preserve theological unity with the Catholic Church, but also to deny the authority of the Pope.
Parliament -   · The legislative body in England, comprised of the House of Lords and the lower and more numerous House of Commons. It exercised greater political power under Henry than in previous times, passing many bills supporting his reformation of the Church.
Privy Council -   · The name given to the king's council in 1536 by Thomas Cromwell, who formalized and modernized that and other institutions of Henry's royal government.
Protestant -   · Usually, a Christian denying the universal authority of the Pope and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the primacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth. The Church of England originally, under Henry VIII, rejected such doctrines, and persecuted Protestants along with Roman Catholics, who acknowledged papal authority.
schism -   · A formal split within a church, usually over disputes in rightful authority, not always involving disputes over religious dogmas; also the break between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, formalized with the Act of Supremacy.
Transubstantiation -   · Idea that bread and wine, prayed over by a priest, becomes thoroughly and substantially the real body and blood of Jesus Christ. This concept has been accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and other theologically orthodox Christian churches, and was often used as a test for the suppression of Protestants during Henry VIII's time.


Anne Askew -  A young woman who was tortured and burned at the stake in 1546 for distributing Protestant literature, which was illegal under Henry's reign.
Anne of Cleves -  Henry's fourth wife; the sister of the German Duke of Cleves, with whom Thomas Cromwell urged the king to contract a marriage alliance; she and Henry were married in January 1540 and divorced six months later.
Anne Boleyn -  Henry's second wife, and mother of his second daughter Elizabeth, future Queen Elizabeth I. She and Henry were married secretly in January 1533. She was tried and beheaded for treason in May 1536, after having allegedly betrayed the king in several extramarital affairs.
Catherine of Aragon -  Daughter of the king and queen of Spain, Ferdinand I of Aragon and Isabella of Castile; Henry's first wife and mother of his first daughter Mary, future Queen Mary I. The widow of Henry's elder brother Arthur, she married Henry with a special dispensation from the Pope in 1509. When she did not bear any sons, Henry's determination to divorce her against the wishes of the Pope officially set off the English Reformation.
Charles V -  Nephew of Catherine of Aragon, from the Habsburg family, elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, causing a major shift in the European balance of power when his inherited domains–Spain, Austria, and Burgundy–were added to his imperial German and Italian lands. Several times Henry's ally and once his formal enemy, when Henry and Francois I of France fought against him 1528.
Clement VII -  Pope who refused to grant Henry a dispensation to divorce Catherine of Aragon.
Thomas Cranmer -  Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533–1556; presided over Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon in May 1533. He was a friend to Protestantism even when it was suppressed by the government, but remained a close friend and adviser to the king until Henry's death in 1547.
Thomas Cromwell -  A member of Henry's council from 1531–1540 and chief architect of the king's political reformation; arranged Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and put into effect the 1534 Act of Supremacy. Made Viceregent in 1535, his arrangement of Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves lost him the king's favor. He was executed for treason and abetting heresy in 1540.
Edward (Edward VI) -  Henry's only legitimate son, heir to the throne upon his father's death. Born in 1537, his mother was Jane Seymour. Reigned over England as King Edward VI from 1547–1553.
Elizabeth  -  Henry's second daughter, born in 1533, her mother was Anne Boleyn. After her sister, Queen Mary I died, she acceded to the throne and reigned over England as Queen Elizabeth I from 1556–1603.
Elizabeth of York  -  Henry's mother, daughter of King Edward IV. She relinquished her hereditary claim to the throne of England when she agreed to marry Henry VII.
Francois I -  King of France from 1515–1547, and frequent military rival to Henry. France was a major European power under his rule, and his chief opponent, was Charles V.
Stephen Gardiner -  Bishop of Winchester and prominent member of the Privy Council in the latter years of Henry's reign and one of the king's ablest advisers on political and religious matters. He led the catholic faction in the government alongside the Duke of Norfolk and was involved in the framing of the Six Articles.
Henry VII -  Henry's father, and King of England from 1485–1509. Defeated and killed King Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field, ending the War of the Roses. Stabilized his military takeover of the government by marrying Elizabeth of York.
Henry VIII -  Born in 1491, King of England from April 1509 to January 1547. Responsible for England's formal break with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, when he was declared Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England. Son of King Henry VII and father of King Edward VI, Queen Mary I, and Queen Elizabeth I.
Katherine Howard -  Henry's fifth wife, and niece of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. She and Henry were married in July 1540. She was beheaded for treason in 1542 after engaging in several extramarital affairs.
James V -  King of Scotland from 1513–1542, he fought a war with England after allying with the French in 1542. His armies were routed at the battle of Solway Moss.
John Lambert -  Prominent martyr for the Protestant faith, his show-trial–presided over by Henry–and his torture and burning at the stake in 1538 marked the onset of heightened suppression of Protestant heresy by Henry's government.
Mary (Mary I) -  Daughter of Henry and Catherine of Aragon, born in 1516. She remained staunchly Catholic, and when she reigned over England as Queen Mary I from 1553–1556, she received the nickname "Bloody Mary" for her persecutions of Protestant heretics.
Sir Thomas More -  Lawyer, leading scholar of English humanism, and close friend to Henry early in his reign; Lord Chancellor of England from 1529–1532, resigning his office in opposition to Henry's break with the Roman Catholic Church. Imprisoned and beheaded for refusing to swear to the Oath of Succession, he is honored by Catholics as a martyr and saint.
Norfolk, Thomas Howard, Duke of  -  Member of the king's council and leader of the catholic faction of Henry's court later in his reign, he was imprisoned but not executed in 1546 on suspicion of treason. Famed for victory against the Scots at Flodden in 1513, when he was Lord High Admiral. Uncle to both Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard.
Katherine Parr -  Henry's sixth and last wife, she was married to the king–the third of her four husbands–in 1543. She outlived Henry and was reputed to be a very thoughtful, caring companion to him during his last years.
Jane Seymour -  Henry's third and probably his most beloved wife. She married the king in 1536 and died in childbed the following year after giving birth to their son Edward.
William Tyndale -  Leading Protestant in the 1520s; fled England in 1524 and translated the Bible into English. Henry's government prohibited the printing and distribution of this text in England.
Thomas Wolsey -  Cardinal and Archbishop of York from 1514–1530, and Henry's Lord Chancellor from 1515–1529, he was the king's leading adviser during these years, in charge of the day-to-day running of the government and of many foreign policy decisions. He was charged with high treason in 1530 after failing to persuade the Pope to grant Henry a divorce from Queen Catherine, but he died before he could stand trial.


Act of Appeals -  1533 motion by Henry, passed by Parliament, which prohibited defendants in England's church courts to appeal their cases to Rome, effectively cutting of all legal ties to the Roman Catholic Church.
Act of Supremacy -  1534 act in Parliament which declared Henry VIII the Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England, formalizing the nation's break with the Roman Catholic Church.
English Reformation -  Gradual spread and political establishment of the Protestant faith in England; it was catalyzed by Henry's break from the Roman Catholic Church after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon in 1533.
Holy League -  1511 alliance between England, Spain, Venice, and the Holy Roman Empire made to fight the French, who were advancing through northern Italy and threatening the security of the Papal States.
Oath of Succession -  1534 oath required of all Church and State officials in England, recognizing the supremacy of Henry over the Church of England and acknowledging the legitimacy of the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn.
Pilgrimage of Grace -  1536 uprising of Catholics and poor farmers in northern England, mainly in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The rebels were led by Robert Aske and were primarily upset with the anti-Catholic developments in Henry's government, although they were also fed up with the burdens of high rents and bad farming conditions.
Poor Law -  1536 effort by the government to relieve the major social problem of vagrancy, or rural unemployment, and to take responsibility for the poorest members of English society.
Six Articles -  1539 revision of the Ten Articles. Asserted strongly the Church of England's commitment to orthodoxy, stating that the doctrine of Transubstantiation was true, priests should not marry, monastic vows were inviolable, private masses were legal, and oral confessions to a priest were necessary.
Solway Moss -  August 1542 battle between 3000 English troops and 10,000 Scots under King James V. The Scots were defeated handily; this was a major victory for the English, and it commenced a three-year war between the hostile countries.
Supplication against the Ordinaries  -  1532 act of Parliament which deprived all the clergy in the English Church of their legal independence from the king's government. It was the first official step toward Henry's full break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Ten Articles -  1536 act of Parliament which stated the official positions of the Church of England. It upheld orthodox teachings on the sacraments of baptism, penance, and Transubstantiation in the Holy Eucharist, but also introduced government opposition to traditional Catholic practices such as prayerful devotions to saints and to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

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