• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Using all the sources, and your own knowledge, assess the extent to which Henry VIII was committed to Protestantism.

Extracts from this document...


Henry's commitment to Protestantism can always be questioned. His reign marked the beginning of the English Reformation, but many of his actions were contradictive to those of a Protestant King, and there is evidence to suggest that Henry was both Protestant and Catholic. Henry began his reign as a Catholic King, even receiving the tile 'Defender of the Faith'. This supported by source 3 which states that Henry 'stood right behind his church'. It is also reflected in source 2 where Cromwell states that Henry thought the Protestant Tyndale's book 'will infect and corrupt the whole realm'. However Henry's commitment to Catholicism soon declined as he sought a divorce with Catherine of Aragon in favor of the Protestant Anne Boleyn. As the Pope refused to make a decision on the matter, Henry looked more towards ways to threaten the Pope and pressurize him to grant the divorce. He charged the Papal legate, Cardinal Wolsey, with praemunire in 1529 and later the whole clergy of England. He then forced the clergy to pay a fine recognise him as Supreme Head of the Church and began to suspend payments to Rome. ...read more.


The abuses led to some inadequate clergy which opposition groups like Lollards and Humanists highlighted. They believed that churches need reforming to reduce the simony, nepotism, absenteeism and ignorance. European reformers lie Luther were also influencing the educated classes in England and anti-Papalism also grew. People with a strong sense of national identity resented the foreign power of the Pope having control I England, and Henry was able to exploit this to transfer the power to himself and changing to an Erastian church. Henry may have realized the need for reform in some areas, so even though anti-clericalism was not as widespread as traditional historians have thought, he still used the anti-clerical feelings to steadily remove the power and privileges of the clergy. Some evidence to show Henry was not really committed to the Protestant belief can be found in source 1 and 2. Source 1 is and extract from Tyndale's Obedience of a Christian Man. Tyndale was a Lutheran and Henry's reaction to the book is described in Cromwell's letter in source 2. ...read more.


It can therefore be said that Henry's true religion might not have a decisive from anyone other than himself. He had hung Catholics for treason and burnt Protestants for heresy. He passed many reforming laws and then reversed some of the doctrine in later years. He took both Catholic and Protestant wives and his actions seemed to correspond with the religion of his wife at the time. Some historians have drawn from this that Henry was an opportunist, reforming and changing his mind as time went on and taking opportunities to give himself more power as they appeared. Certainly he did not leave a definite religion when he dies, and he did seem to have taken doctrine from both Protestantism and Catholicism which were beneficial to the monarch and put them together, but he did have unmistakably Catholic beliefs in Mass and transubstantiation. Overall I would conclude that Henry was only committed to Protestantism to a certain extent as long as it was beneficial to him, but he was in no way fully committed. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

The student answers the question very well because the essay is balanced between the two viewpoints. You have to address both sides of the argument in order to reach high marks because it shows that you are thinking widely enough ...

Read full review

Response to the question

The student answers the question very well because the essay is balanced between the two viewpoints. You have to address both sides of the argument in order to reach high marks because it shows that you are thinking widely enough to understand that there is more than one point of view on every historical event. The student seems to devote one paragraph to the argument for Protestantism and the next to the argument for Catholicism: the essay could be improved even more by putting all of the arguments on one side together in the first half of the essay, and then all of the other side of the argument in the second half. This would make it easier for the examiner to see that you are addressing both sides, and it would also show that you can organise your information. The introduction is excellent because it provides a short summary of the arguments for and against, which means that the examiner is instantly in no doubt that the student is aware of alternative points of view.

Level of analysis

The student appears to use three sources, but it is unclear from the question how many sources there are. If the question asks for it, it is important to use all of the sources provided to you, as the examiners are looking for students who can combine their own analysis with what other people have said about the topic. This student is particularly good at writing the words of the source into their own essay by using quotation marks, such as "supported by source 3 which states that Henry ‘stood right behind his church’." This is excellent because it shows that the student has the knowledge and understanding to make a point of their own, but also understands the source enough to know which few words are the most relevant. It would also be useful to bring in the names of the people who have written the sources - for example "Smith argued that..." - because it shows that you have engaged with the sources and are not just skim reading them to find a vaguely relevant phrase. However, at some points the essay starts to tell a story rather reach judgements. My teacher used to say that a good way to see if you are doing this is to see if you start sentences with "And then" or "He then" or something similar: other than the first and last sentence, most of the third paragraph tells a story, and the student falls into the "He then" trap by saying "He charged the Papal legate, Cardinal Wolsey, with praemunire in 1529 and later the whole clergy of England. He then forced the clergy..." It would be better to try and summarise this information into a sentence if possible, then devote the rest of the space to saying why it happened and how significant the effects were. This would show that you can look deeper than the surface and understand the causes and effects of things, rather than just details of what happened. However, the student demonstrates the ability to do this at other points in the essay: in "He also revised the Bishop’s Book with the King’s Book he wrote himself which is perhaps the best way to found out what he truly thought" the first half of the sentence is evidence while the second half explains why it is significant. It is important to keep this analysis up throughout the essay because it proves that you can apply it to all of the different events and interpretations you will discuss, and you aren't just an expert in one area. The conclusion is excellent as it brings together the consideration of different interpretations and shows the examiner a balanced judgement can be made after considering all of the evidence.

Quality of writing

The spelling, grammar and punctuation is generally good, although some words are spelt incorrectly - in "Evident to support how Henry was Catholic...", "evident" should be "evidence". It is not necessary to have perfect spelling but if the examiner spends less time trying to work out what you mean, then they can spend more time assessing the knowledge you have revised or the arguments you have created. The essay would also benefit from more technical vocabulary: words like "cause" and "consequence" often appear in mark schemes, and dropping them in would show a strong understanding of why historical events happen. For example, instead of "...by ensuring he had a Protestant upbringing Henry made sure that Protestantism would live on after his death", the student could say "Henry caused Protestantism to live on...". That said, this is a good essay with some features that would score high marks.

Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by lordharvey 13/04/2012

Read less
Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    In what ways and to what extent does the concept of Spain's Golden Age ...

    5 star(s)

    By the end of his reign the fleet had nothing like the power and prestige of its 1560s victories. It is difficult to compare Spanish military power in terms of the army and the navy, in that their power declines and rises in proportion to the nature of the threat Spain was facing at the time.

  2. Was there a mid-Tudor crisis during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I ...

    Loads claim that the mid-Tudor years 'should be seen on a very positive light, not as years of crisis, but as years of achievement'. In his view 'the true significance of the reign of Edward and Mary lies less in what happened than in what did not happen'.

  1. To What Extent Was Henry Vll Secure?

    He was never a real threat to Henry and the events lasted less than one year and Simnel never had much evidence he was real and the rebel support he gained was easily defeated by Henry. However the second pretender to the throne was more of a threat, his name

  2. Oliver Cromwell - Hero or Villain?

    Cromwell was also very involved in Ireland. Oliver Cromwell, was a Protestant. This meant that it must have been awkward and also frightening for the Irish. Ireland was full of many, many Catholics. As they were constantly rebelling, Cromwell needed to do something about it. This was because Ireland was the backdoor to England.

  1. Why did Henry break with Rome?

    The laymen of Henry's parliament saw the great benefits that a break from the Pope would bring. The payment of annates not to Rome but to the royal treasury could only be advantageous to those who supported the King. Cromwell wanted a constitutional monarchy; this too would greatly profit Parliament and increase its control in England.

  2. What kind of king does Shakespeare create in Act 3 Scenes 1 and 2? ...

    whose limbs were made in England, show us her the mettle of your pasture", here Henry is telling his troops that they, born in England should show the French what they are made of. This creates the impression of a confident and wise king.

  1. Anne Boleyn - A queen who inspired a revolution.

    In confidence, Henry asked Cardinal Wolsey, a representative of the Pope, to consider the basis of this annulment. In order to reach a verdict on whether the contract between Catherine and Henry should be breached, Wolsey called an assembly of the ecclesiastical court.

  2. Within the context of the period 1337-1471, to what extent can Henry VI be ...

    However, it is debatable as to whether or not that Henry?s illness made any fundamental change to these events, as he?d already proved himself as incapable of solving these disputes even before his mental collapse. It also led to more conflict between Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and Somerset.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work