Henry VIII

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The Political Revolution

Summary The Political Revolution

Ironically, while Henry claimed for himself powers never claimed before by any English king, the underlying story of his political revolution is not his personal lust for power, but rather his unprecedented employment of Parliament in his service. The 1534 Act of Supremacy established the absolute sovereignty of the king in Parliament. Although this did not mean that Parliament conferred sovereignty upon Henry, it did mean that England's monarchy was a constitutional monarchy, and not an absolute one as was often the case in nations such as France and Spain.

Practically speaking, Henry had little choice in employing Parliament as he did in his reformation. He could not break all of England's ties to Rome by himself, and he needed the force of parliamentary law to see his plans through to success. It was fortunate that Henry had Cromwell at his side to employ Parliament as skillfully as he did, simultaneously establishing the supreme authority he desired as King of England and establishing important institutional groundwork for the future stability and effectiveness of the English constitution. Parliament was an essential element in Henry's political revolution.

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