How could I go about discussing the following prompt:  Henry VIII might have made himself supreme head of the Church of England, but he did little else to change the church.  

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To begin with, you need to understand that before his break with Rome, Henry was a hardcore defender of Catholicism and the supremacy of the pope.  In fact, he had written a pamphlet entitled "Defense of the Seven Sacraments" that attacked the Protestant Reformation , which at that time was...

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To begin with, you need to understand that before his break with Rome, Henry was a hardcore defender of Catholicism and the supremacy of the pope.  In fact, he had written a pamphlet entitled "Defense of the Seven Sacraments" that attacked the Protestant Reformation, which at that time was just getting underway.  

The immediate cause of Henry's break with Rome was the pope's refusal to annul Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon.  Katherine had failed to produce a male child who lived beyond infancy, and she was getting beyond childbearing years.  Henry needed at least one male heir to ensure the continuation of the Tudor dynasty, so he needed a new wife who could give him sons.  On another level, Henry wanted the English Church to be an institution over which he had more control so that he could count on it to support him.  Henry was no religious innovator, and his break with Rome was much more about his style of rule and his dynastic concerns than it was about theology.

Most of Henry's reforms were aimed at making the Church more English and more subject to his will.  To this end, he got Parliament to agree to the first Act of Supremacy (1534) which established the monarch as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.  Denying the religious supremacy of the king was considered high treason. The king had control over the nomination of bishops. The liturgy and readings from the Bible began to be done in English rather than in Latin, and the celebrant faced the congregation rather than turning away from them. England's monasteries were eventually dissolved and their extensive lands were distributed to Henry's supporters, which gave these men a vested interest in preventing the re-establishment of Catholicism.

Henry's church subscribed to the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith, but kept other Catholic beliefs and practices, including transubstantiation, auricular confession and penance, and communion in one kind by the laity (bread only).  These beliefs were confirmed by the Six Articles (1539) and reaffirmed by the King's Book (1543).  It is fair to say that on matters of doctrine, the Church of England under Henry VIII was a sort of Catholicism Lite.  The king was in charge rather than the pope, but most of the other beliefs of the old faith were retained.  It was not until the reign of Henry's successor, the boy king Edward VI, that the Church of England began to tread a more distinctly Protestant path under the influence of Thomas Cranmer, the reformist Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Henry VIII broke from Rome during the period of the rise of Protestantism. As a result, there were essentially two different issues at stake: papal authority and the theology and hierarchy of the nascent state church. While the new Church of England rejected Papal authority, it created a "via media" or middle path between Roman theology and more extreme forms of Protestantism. In general, the new Church of England had weaker clerical authority than the Roman churches, but a more vertical hierarchical structure than some radical Protestant churches.

Liturgically, the major shift was from a Latin to a vernacular liturgy. The Eucharistic service in the Church of England is actually an English translation of a slightly modified form of the Sarum rite, the Roman Catholic liturgy as performed in the Cathedral of Salisbury. The Bible was now read in English rather than Latin, making it accessible to the laity. While Roman priests typically faced eastward (in the same direction as the congregation, and thus with their backs to the congregation), priests in the English church faced towards the congregation. Unlike the Roman church where communion was only given to the laity in one kind (bread but not wine), in the English church the laity communicated in both kinds. 

While the English church did maintain the older Roman parish system and episcopal hierarchy, it made fundamental changes in theology, including rejection of the doctrine of purgatory and indulgences, a belief in salvation through grace, and a belief in single predestination (you may be predestined to salvation, but the 39 Articles do not mention predestination to damnation). Critically, the English church subscribed to a "sola scriptura" doctrine (that scripture was all that was needed for salvation), reducing the importance of the clergy.

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