Henry VIII

Henry and his People

Henry's employment of Parliament in the service of his new regime had a more subtle impact on society. Since many members of the House of Commons were merchants, lawyers, and the gentry (smaller landowners), new political significance was on its way for the very small but growing middle classes of England. This political significance would gradually be felt on a local level, as commercial and gentrified interests, with their ties to the government, became the focus of greater respect and prestige and thereby expanded in both size and influence over English society. At the same time, the great landowners, some of whom were granted lands that had been seized from the Catholic Church, while also increasing their local power, began to identify their interests more and more with those of the nation. Owing the security of their holdings to the good graces of the new, Reformation regime, many of the English nobles were presented new reasons for harboring a sort of state-oriented patriotism that did not exist in more feudal and Roman Catholic times.