What church did Henry VIII found?

1 Answer
Jan 21, 2017

The Anglican Church


Henry VII's son Arthur was originally in line for the succession to the English throne. This was one reason why marriage to a princess of another major European power was important. So, he was married to Catherine of Aragon, a princess from Spain.

Arthur was quite sickly though, and died before the marriage was consummated. This put Henry in line for succession. Henry would also go on to marry Catherine of Aragon. There was backlash to this though, because of the prohibition of "taking your brother's wife" in Leviticus.

The issue was brought before the Pope, and the marriage was accepted as valid. This was due to the lack of consummation between Arthur and Catherine. Because the marriage was not consummated, Henry taking Catherine as his wife was not seen as a violation of Levitical law.

Henry would become king Henry VIII of England. One of the biggest issues for him was the continuance of the Tudor dynasty through a male heir. Catherine would never give him a male heir after years of marriage. Henry became very frustrated with Catherine, for this. Meanwhile he had become interested in Anne Boleyn, a woman from his court.

In order to marry Anne Boleyn, Henry needed to divorce Catherine. The issue was brought to the current Pope Clement VII. Henry asked for an annulment of the marriage to Catherine. He claimed the marriage was invalid because she was his brother's wife originally. This flew in the face of the decision of the earlier Pope. Because of this Clement refused to annul the marriage.

Up until this point Henry VIII had been a staunch catholic. He had even been named "defender of the faith." Now though, the church was keeping him from his goal of marrying other women in order to produce male heirs. This did effect him quite a bit, but still he decided to break from the catholic church. With the Act of Supremacy, he officially became the head of the new Church of England.

Though this new Church of England was "Protestant" it still kept many of its catholic trappings. This was because of Henry VIII's commitment to this form of Christianity, but not to the supremacy of the Pope. The Church of England, also known as the "Anglican church" still lives on today in many countries around the world, as one of the most important denominations of western Christianity.