King Henry VIII of England is our villain this week because of his role in the dissolution of the monasteries. Henry was desperate for a male heir which his Catholic Queen Catherine of Aragon did not give him. He convinced himself that he was cursed by god for marrying his brother’s widow. Catherine claimed that the marriage had not been consummated and that Henry knew that. It didn’t really matter, though, Henry’s wandering eye had landed on Anne Boleyn who refused to be his mistress, demanding a crown instead.
Queen Catherine, Spanish and Catholic, had the power of the Papacy behind her. There would be no dispensation from the Pope to divorce Queen Catherine to marry Anne. Henry declared war on the Catholic Church in England. In 1530 the Abbot of Whitby wrote: “The King’s Grace is ruled by one common stewed whore, Anne Boleyn, who makes all the spirituality to be beggared, and the temporality also.” The English people preferred Queen Katherine and called Anne “The Great Whore.”
Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533. It was not until May of that year that Thomas Cranmer granted Henry and Catherine’s divorce. Five days later, Cranmer declared Henry and Anne’s secret marriage valid. The Pope excommunicated Henry who assumed leadership of the Church in England. Unlike his miserly father, Henry had spent money liberally. Henry dissolved the Churches and monasteries, kept most of the assets himself, and granted properties to his supporters.
Tomorrow, More on the Dissolution of the Abbeys. Rita Bay