How did King Henry VIII change the religion in England?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After failed attempts to obtain a divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII took momentous steps that led to “The Reformation,” a significant occurrence in the history of religion.  Prior to the reformation, all of England’s inhabitants including King Henry VIII prescribed to Catholicism. In fact King Henry VIII was such a strong adherent that he was bequeathed the title “Defender of the Faith” by the pope for his efforts in protecting Catholicism against the Protestants. However, all these changed upon the pope’s denial of Henry’s request for a divorce.

Through enactment of the Act of Supremacy formulated by Henry VIII and his parliament, England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. The Church of England became an independent entity from the Roman Church and the king of England was appointed as leader of the church. As such, the Pope had no influence over any religious matters in England and this paved way for transformation to Protestantism.

The “Dissolution” led to the closure of all monasteries and convents in England and the wealth obtained from such establishments channeled to other courses like strengthening of England’s defense against aggressors. During his reign as leader of the church, King Henry VIII permitted the translation of the bible from Latin to obtain an English version. The “Lord’s Prayer” was also recited in English as opposed to Latin, which was in use when the Pope led the church. In addition to the above, under King Henry VIII, priests were not allowed to marry.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

King Henry VIII came into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church when he desired a new wife and the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Bolelyn in hopes of having a male child and, thus, preserve his lineage.  Pope Clement, who was virtually a prisoner of Catherine's nephew, Charles V of Spain, was reluctant to raise the ire of Spain's king by annuling a marriage for which Henry had been granted a dispensation in the first place.  The Pope dragged the case on for years; frustrated Henry consulted with Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was himself a very clever man.  Disenchanted with Rome, Cranmer lent his support to Henry; and, with the Machiavellian skill of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII convinced Parliament to repudiate the authority of Rome over the English church and the king's subjects.

Henry VIII was then made head of the Church of England and Protestants moved into positions of prominence in the country. Also, Henry suppressed the monasteries and put their property and wealth at his own disposal, reducing the power of the Catholic Church in England.

atsnider | Student

King Henry the VIII changed the religion in Wngland when he asked the pope for another annulment but the pope refused and made Henry angry enough that he separated his church from the Roman Catholic church to form the Church of England so that he could divorce his wife and marry another woman in attempts to concieve a son (which never does happen)