Рефераты. England under Henry VIII

She might have known that no good could ever come with such wrong, and

that the King who had been so faithless and so cruel to his first wife,

could be more faithless and more cruel to the second. But Anne Boleyn knew

that too late, and bought it at dear price. Her marriage came to its

natural end. However, its natural end was

not a natural death for her. The Pope was

thrown into a very angry state of mind when

he heard of the King's marriage. Many of

English monks and friars did the same, but

the King took it quietly, and was very glad

when his Queen gave birth to a daughter,

who was christened Elizabeth, and declared

Princess of Wales as her sister Mary had

already been.

One of the most atrocious features of

the reign was that Henry VIII was always

trimming between the reformed religion with the Pope, the more of his own

subjects he roasted alive for not holding the Pope's opinions. Thus, an

unfortunate student named John Frith, and a poor simple tailor named Andrew

Hewet who loved him very much, and said that whatever John Frith believed

he believed, were burnt in Smithfield - to show what a capital Christian

the King was.

But these were speedily followed by two much greater victims, Sir

Thomas More, and John Fisher , the Bishop of Rochester. The latter, who was

a good and amiable old man, had committed no greater offence then believing

in Elizabeth Barton, called the Maid of Kent - another of those ridiculous

women who pretended to be inspired, and to make all sorts of heavenly

revelations, though they indeed uttered nothing but evil nonsen-se. For

this offence - as it was pretended, but really for denying the king to be

the supreme Head of the Church - he got into trouble, and was put in

prison. Even then he might have died naturally, but the Pope, to spite the

King, resolved to make him a cardinal. So the King decided that Fisher

should have no head on which to wear a red Cardinal's hat. He was tried

with all unfairnence and injustice, and sentenced to death. He died like a

noble and virtuous old man, and left a worthy name behind him.

The King supposed that Sir Thomas More would be frightened by this

example. But, as he was not to be easily terrified, and, thoroughly

believed in the Pope, had made up his mind that the King was not rightful

Head of the Church, he positively refused to say that he was. For this cri-

me he too was tried and sentenced, after having been in prison a whole


When he was doomed to death, and came away from his trial with the edge

of executioner's axe turned towards him - as was always done in those times

when a state prisoner came to that hopeless pass - he bore it quite

serenely, and gave his blessing to his son, who pressed through the crowd

in Westminster Hall and kneeled down to recieve it.

But, when he got to the Tower Wharf on his way back to his prison, and

his favourite daughter, Margaret Roper, a very good woman, rushed through

the guards to kiss him and to weep upon his neck, he has over-come at last.

He soon recovered and never more showed any feeling but courage. When he

had laid his head upon the block, he asked jokingly the executioner to let

him put his beard out of the way because for that thing, at least, had

never committed any treason. Then his head was strucked off at a blow.

These two executions were worthy of King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas More

was one of the most virtuous men in his dominions, and the Bishop was one

of his eldest and truest friends.


When the news of these two murders got to Rome, the Pope was enra-ged

and prepared a Bull, ordering his subjects to take arms against the King of

England and dethrone him. The King took all possible precautions to keep

that document out of his dominions, and set to work in return to suppress a

great number of English monasteries and abbeys.

This destruction was begun by a body of commissioners, of whom Tho-mas

Cromwell was the head. It was carried on through to some few years to its

entire completion. There is no doubt that many of these religious es-

tablishments imposed upon the people in every possible way; that they had

images moved by wires, which they pretended were miraculously mo-ved by

Heaven; that they had bits of coal which they said had fried Saint

Lawrense, and bits of toe-nails which they said belonged to other famous

saints, etc.; and that all these bits of rubbish were called Relics, and

adored by the ignorant people. But, on the other hand, there is no doubt

either, that the King's men punished the good monks with the bad; did great

injustice; demolished many beautiful things and many valuable libra-ries;

destroyed numbers of paintings, stained glass windows, fine pave-ments, and

carvings; and that the whole court were ravenously greedy and rapacious for

the division of this great spoil among them. The King seems to have grown

almost mad in the ardour of this pursuit, for he declared Thomas a Becket a

traitor, though he had been dead for many years, and had his body dug up

out of his grave. The gold and jewels on his shrine filled two great

chests, and 8 men were needed to carry them away.

These things caused great discontent among the people. The monks who

were driven out of their homes and wandered about encouraged their

discontent, and there were, consequently, great risings in Licincolnshire

and Yorkshire. These were put down by terrific executions, from which the

monks themselves did not escape.


The unfortunate Queen Catherine was by

this time dead, and the King was by this ti-

me as tired of his second Queen as he had

been of his first. As he had fallen in love

with Anne when she was in the service of

Catherine, so he now fell in love with ano-

ther lady in the service of Anne.

The King resolved to have Anne Boleyn's

head to marry Lady Jane Seymour. So, he

brought a number of charges against Anne,

accusing her of dreadful crimes which she

had never committed, and implicating in

them her own brother and certain gentlemen in her service. As the lords and

councillors were afraid of the King, they brought in Anne Boleyn guilty,

and the other unfortunate persons accused with her, guilty too.

They were all sentenced to death. Anne Boleyn tried to soften her hus-band

by touching letters, but as he wanted her to be executed, she was soon


There is a story that the King sat in his palace listening very

anxiously for the sound of the cannon which was to announce this new

murder; and that, when he heard it, he rose up in great spirits and ordered

out his dogs to go a-hunting. He married Jane Seymour the very next day.

Jane Seymour lived just long enough to give birth to a son who was

christened Edward, and then to die of a fever.


Cranmer had done what he could to save some of the Church property for

purposes of religion and education. But the great families had been so

hungry to get hold of it, that very little could be rescued for such

objects. Even Miles Coverdale, who did the people the inestimable service

of translating the Bible into English (which the unreformed religion never

permitted to be done), was left in poverty while the great families

clutched the Church lands and money. The people had been told that when the

Crown came into possession of these funds, it would not be necessary to tax

them. But they were taxed afresh directly afterwards.

One of the most active writers on a Church's side against the King was

a member of his own family - a sort of distant cousin, Reginald Pole by

name - who attacked him in the most violent manner (though he recieved a

pension from him all the time), and fought for the Church for his pen, day

and night. He was beyong the King's reach, in Italy.

The Pope made Reginald Pole a cardinal; but, so much against his will,

that it is thought he had hopes of marrying the Princess Mary. His being

made a high priest, however, put an end to that. His mother, the Countess

of Salisbury - who was unfortunately for herself, within the tyrant's reach

-was the last of his relatives on whom his wrath fell. When she was told to

lay her grey head upon the block, she answered the executioner that her

head had never committed treason, and if he wanted her head, he should

seize that. So, she ran round and round the scaffold with the executioner

striking at her, and her grey hair bedabbled with blood. And even when they

held her down upon the block she moved her head about to the last, resolved

to be no party to her own barbarous murder. All this the people bore, as

they had borne everything else.

Indeed they bore much more; for the slow fires of Smithfield were

continually burning, and people were constantly being roasted to death -

still to show what a good Christian the King was. He defied the Pope and

his Bull, which was now issued, and had come into England; but he bur-ned

innumerable people whose only offence was that they differed from the

Pope's religios opinions.

All this the people bore, and more than all this yet. The national

spirit seems to have been banished from the kingdom from this time. The

people who were executed for treason, the wives and friends of the "bluff"

King, spoke of him on the scafford as a good and gentle man.

The Parliament were as bad as the rest, and gave the King whatever he

wanted. They gave him new powers of murdering, at his will and pleasure,

anyone whom he might choose to call a traitor. But the worst measure they

passed was an Act of Six Articles*********, commonly called at the time

"the whip with six strings", which punished offences against the Pope's

opinions, without mercy, and enforced the very worst parts of the monkish


Cranmer would have modified it, if he could; but he had not the power,

being overborne by the Romish party. As one of the articles declared that

priests should not marry, and as he was married himself, he sent his wife

and children into Germany, and began to tremble at his danger. This whip of

six strings was made under the King's own eye. It should never be for-

gotten of him how cruelly he supported the Popish doctrines when there was

nothing to be got by opposing them.

This monarch now thought of taking another wife. He proposed to the

French King to have some of the ladies of the French Court exhibited be-

fore him, that he might make his Royal choice. But the French King ans-

wered that he would rather not have his ladies to be shown like horses at a

fair. He proposed to the Dowager Duchess of Milan, who replied that she

might have thought of such a match if she had had two heads. At last

Cromwell represented that there was a Protestant Princess in Germany -

those who had the reformed religion were call Protestants, because their

leaders had protested against the abuses and impositions of the unreform-ed

Church - named Anne of Cleves, who was beautiful, and would answer the

purpose admirably.

The King sent over the famous painter, Hans Holbein, to take her a

portrait. Hans made her out to be so good-looking that the King was satis-

fied, and the marriage was arranged. But Hans had flattered the Princess.

When the King first saw her, he swore she was "a great Flanders mare", and

said he would never marry her. Being obliged to do it, he would not give

her the presents he had prepared, and would never notice her. He never

forgave Cromwell his part in the affair. His downfall dates from that time.

It was quickened by his enemies, in the interests of the unreformed

religion, putting in the King's way, at a state dinner, a niece of the Duke

of Norfolk, Catherine Howard. Falling in love with her on the spot, the

King soon divorced Anne of Cleves on pretence that she had been previously

betrothered to someone else, and married Catherine. It is probable that on

his wedding day he sent his faithful Cromwell to the scaffold, and had his

head struck off.

It soon came out that Catherine Howard was not a faithful wife, and

again the dreadful axe made the King a widower. Henry then applied him-self

to superintending the composition of a religious book called "A ne-cessary

doctrine for any Christian Man".

He married yet once more. Yes, strange to say, he found in England

another woman who would become his wife, and she was Catherine Parr, widow

of Lord Latimer. She leaned towards the reformed religion, and it is some

comfort to know, that she argued a variety of doctrinal points with him on

all possible occasions. After one of these conversations the King in a very

black mood actully instructed Gardier, one of his Bishops who favoured the

Popish opinions, to draw a bill of accusation against her to the scaffold.

But one of the Queen's friends knew about it, and gave her timely notice.

She fell ill with terror, but managed the King so well when he came to

entrap her into further statements - by saying that she had only spoken on

such points to divert his mind and to get some points of infor-mation from

his extraordinary wisdom - that he gave her a kiss and called her a

sweatheart. And, when the Chancellor came next day to take her to the

Tower, the King honoured him with the epithets of a beast, a knave, and a

fool. So near was Catherine Parr to the block, and so narrow was her



A few more horrors, and this reign was over. There was a lady, Anne

Askew, in Lincolnshire, who inclined to the Protestant opinions, and whose

husband being a fierce Catholic, turned her out of his house. She came to

London, and was considered as offending against the six articles, and was

taken to the Tower, and put upon the rack - probably because it was hoped

that she might, in her agony, criminate some obnoxious per-sons. She was

tortured in a most cruel manner without uttering a cry, but afterwards they

had to carry her to the fire in a chair. She was burned with three others,

a gentleman, a clergyman, and a tailor; and so the world went on.

Either the King became afraid of the power of Duke of Norfolk, and his

son the Earl of Surrey, or they gave him some offence, but he resolved to

pull them down, to follow all the rest who were gone. The son was tried

first - of course for nothing - and defended himself bravely; but all the

same he was found guilty, and was executed. Then his father's turn came.

But the King himself was left for death by a Greater King, and the Earth

was to be rid of him at last. When he was found to be dying, Cranmer was

sent for, and came with all speed, but found him speechless. In that hour

he perished. He was in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and the thirty-

eighth of his reign.

Henry the Eighth, a bloody tyrant, has been favoured by some Protest-

ant writers, because the Reformation was achieved in his time. But the

mighty merit of his lies with other men and not with him.

What else can I say about Henry VIII?

He was more a beast than a man.

He executed hundreds of people.

Though he was wise enough to rule a country.

His reign was bloody and he did not do a lot for his country.

His six marriages caused the country to finish

all treaties with the Roman Church.

And the King's bloody deeds ashamed the mighty England.

For Charles Dickens he was the most

untolerable man, a shame for humanity.


1. Hans Holbein (1497-1543)* - the German painter. Known as Hans Holbein


2. the Battle of Spurs** was held on the 16th of August, 1513 a.d. During

it the French cavalry fled because of the advancing armies of Henry VIII

and Maximilian I.

3. Thomas Wolsey (1473-1530)***, Chancellor of England since 1515 till

1529. Since 1514 - the Archbishop of York, since 1515 - the Cardinal. In

1529 he was arrested for treason.

4. Wittemberg**** - the Saxon city where in 1517 Luther read his 95

thesises against the Catholic Church.

5. the Reformation***** - the movement against the Ca-tholic Church in

Western and Central Europe. It's crea-tor was Luther.

6. Martin Luther (1483-1546)****** - the leader of the Re-formation. He

also translated the Bible into German.

7. John Wickliffe (1330-1384)******* - the English refor-mator. He said

that the Pope was not necessary and wan-ted the Church to abandon its


8. Thomas More (1487 - 1535)******** - the great lawer and political

leader, was against the Reformation. Being a writer, he created "Utopia".

Anne Boleyn, the second wife of the King, knowing that More had helped

the King to dismiss Catherine of Aragon, caused Henry to execute this

clever and honest Chancellor of England.

9. Act of Six Articles*********. Was written in 1539. It abolished the

monasteries and showed that England was interested in religion and that

damage inflicted to the Church was a crime. So, many Protestants were


List of the Used Literature.

1. J. J. Bell. The History of England.

2. L. V. Sidorchenko. Absolute Monarchy.

3. I. I. Burova. Just for Pleasure. Intermediate Level.

4. D. Capewell. The History of English Monarchy.

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