Through all of these unfortunate events, Henry himself remained convinced of his personal righteousness. With equal zeal, Henry wished to stamp out both Popery, as Roman Catholicism was called by its enemies, as well as Protestantism. The test of a heretic usually concerned the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Near the time he was burning Protestants and beheading Catholics for treason, Henry proudly sent the Catholic Emperor Charles V a copy of the religious primer that was used throughout England to teach the doctrines of its new Church. The orthodox doctrine of Transubstantiation figured prominently in the text, and Henry wanted Charles to see it, so that he could see how the Church of England was orthodox, even as it rejected Popery.

Henry's ruthless actions in the name of the Church of England can be somewhat counterbalanced by the conviction of many loyal to the new regime that the changes, both religious and political, were of the greatest importance to England and occasionally called for strong-armed enforcement. The draining of the royal treasury, however, and the loss of life in France for the sake only of Boulogne, seem to merit less understanding. The war in France was carried out largely because of Henry's desire for a sort of "last-hurrah" on the continent: Boulogne was of very little strategic importance, and the war itself was essentially a futile attempt to win a bit of personal glory for Henry in his old age. It cost Henry popularity back home in England, though the success of his armies in Scotland was able to offset the effect.

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