What impact does Henry VIII have on modern society?
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In regards to the suppression of the English monasteries, Henry's influence on modern British society can be described as the earliest example in the British Isles of the separation of church and state. Henry's actions may also be seen as the emergence of a sovereign nation-state; previously in European politics, many of the nation-states such as France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire, were nominally subject to the papacy in Rome. This situation often caused tremendous strife between a pope and a king, though most of the time it was the Holy Roman Emperor who was at odds with the pope. Henry's seizure of church lands and abolishing of the monasteries perhaps indicates that he feared a Catholic revolt or invasion from Catholic France or Spain to remove him from power. Henry was simply moving to take away any Catholic advantages his enemies might otherwise use against him.
Of course, Henry's marital troubles may also be the cause of the royal oppression. Bullied by the church's refusal to annul an unsatisfactory marriage to his first wife Catherine of Aragon, Henry may simply have been returning the favor by retaliating in order to satisfy his own desires for a suitable wife that could provide him with heirs. The English Reformation was simply an unexpected result of Henry seeking to establish himself as the head of the Church in England, which then became the Church of England, separate from the machinations of the Vatican.
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