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  • RICHARD REX (a1)

This article takes issue with the influential recent interpretation of Henry VIII's religious position as consistently ‘Erasmian’. Bringing to the discussion not only a re-evaluation of much familiar evidence but also a considerable quantity of hitherto unknown or little-known material, it proposes instead that Henry's religious position, until the 1530s, sat squarely within the parameters of ‘traditional religion’ and that the subsequent changes in his attitudes to the cult of the saints, monasticism, and papal primacy were so significant as to be understood and described by Henry himself in terms of a veritable religious ‘conversion’. This conversion, which was very much sui generis, is not easily to be fitted within the confessional frameworks of other sixteenth-century religious movements (though it was by no means unaffected by them). It hinged upon Henry's new understanding of kingship as a supreme spiritual responsibility entrusted to kings by the Word of God, but long hidden from them by the machinations of the papacy. His own providential deliverance from blindness was, he believed, but the beginning of a more general spiritual enlightenment.

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Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, West Road, Cambridge, CB3
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I should like to acknowledge helpful comments from two seminars which heard earlier versions of this article: the History of Christianity Seminar in the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge, on 28 Jan. 2009; and the Religious History of Britain 1500–1800 Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research on 8 Feb. 2011. I am also much indebted to the anonymous readers who commented on this article in the form in which it was originally submitted for publication.

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1 See e.g. Scarisbrick J. J., Henry VIII (London, 1968), pp. 406–8; Graves M. A. R., Henry VIII (London, 2003), p. 159; and Wooding Lucy, Henry VIII (2009), p. 185. The terms ‘Protestant’ and ‘evangelical’ will be used interchangeably in this article merely as convenient labels for a complex and by no means homogeneous religious tradition, and in full awareness of the semantic traps they can sometimes set for the unwary.

2 For more on the background of ‘Catholicism without the pope’, and a sensitive discussion of this trope and its context, see Peter Marshall, ‘Is the pope Catholic? Henry VIII and the semantics of schism’, in Shagan E. H., ed., Catholics and the ‘Protestant nation’: religious politics and identity in early modern England (Manchester, 2005), pp. 2248.

3 Originally set out in Bernard G. W., ‘The piety of Henry VIII’, in Amos N. Scott, Pettegree A., and van Nierop H., eds., The education of a Christian society: humanism and the Reformation in Britain and the Netherlands (Aldershot, 1999), pp. 6288; and later reprised in Bernard G. W., The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the remaking of the English church (New Haven, CT, and London, 2005). See also McConica J. K., English humanists and Reformation politics under Henry VIII and Edward VI (Oxford, 1965), passim; and Wooding, Henry VIII, pp. 182–4, 189, and 224–5. More recently, Bernard has even gone so far as to call Henry a ‘pupil of Erasmus’, observing that ‘Henry was much influenced by Erasmus, who was for a while his tutor’. See Bernard G. W., ‘Reflecting on the King's Reformation’, in Betteridge T. and Lipscomb S., eds., Henry VIII and the court: art, politics and performance (Farnham, 2013), pp. 926, at pp. 21 and 22 respectively. This latter claim seems to go beyond the evidence.

4 For the theological conservatism of Henry's Church of England, see Armstrong C. D. C., ‘English Catholicism rethought’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 54 (2003), pp. 714–28.

5 Starkey David, Henry: virtuous prince (London, 2008), pp. 129–31; and Erasmus to Mosellanus, 22 Apr. 1519, ep. 948, in The correspondence of Erasmus, trans. R. A. B. Mynors et al., in the Collected works of Erasmus (Toronto, 1974–) (henceforth CWE), vi, pp. 310–18, esp. p. 317.

6 The strength of Erasmian humanism at Henry's court is brought out in, for example, Dowling M., Humanism in the age of Henry VIII (London, 1986), and Wooding L., Rethinking Catholicism in Reformation England (Oxford, 2000).

7 See Henry's letter to the dukes of Saxony, 20 Jan. 1523, in Assertio septem sacramentorum, ed. P. Fraenkel (Münster, 1992), p. 239: ‘Nam ut bonum esse non negem in quavis lingua legi scripturam sacram.’ This concession is made in the course of warning the dukes to prevent Luther from disseminating his distorted version of the scriptures.

8 Bernard, ‘Piety of Henry VIII’, pp. 86–7, and King's Reformation, pp. 236–7, citing Henry VIII to Erasmus, 18 Sept. 1527, from P. S. and H. M. Allen, eds., Opus epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami (12 vols., Oxford, 1906–58), vii, pp. 179–81.

9 Bernard, ‘Piety of Henry VIII’, pp. 85–6.

10 See the excellent analysis of the Enchiridion in Augustijn C., Erasmus: his life, works, and influence, trans. Grayson J. C. (Toronto, 1991), pp. 4355, esp. pp. 47–50.

11 Ibid., pp. 62 and 66–7 (theology), 81–3 (peace), 176–8 (heretics), and 180–2 (unity).

12 Morison R., An invective ayenste the great and detestable vice, treason (London: Berthelet, 1539; STC 18111), sig. D4v. Cited as the opening words of R. Rex, Henry VIII and the English Reformation (Basingstoke, 1993), p. 1. The genesis and character of the Invective have been comprehensively set out by Tracey Sowerby in her definitive study of Morison, Renaissance and reform in Tudor England: the careers of Sir Richard Morison, c. 1513–1556 (Oxford, 2010), pp. 90–100. In particular, she shows that it was written around Christmas 1538 and that it was an officially sanctioned publication, drawing on the records of the marquis of Exeter's trial and of the interrogations leading up to it (pp. 92–4). Cooper J. P. D., Propaganda and the Tudor state: political culture in the westcountry (Oxford, 2003), pp. 148–63, additionally situates the so-called ‘Exeter conspiracy’ and the Invective in the context of court faction and Henry VIII's obsessive fear of Reginald Pole.

13 For the pejorative connotations of novelty and innovation in Henry VIII's reign, especially in matters of religion, see Rex R., ‘The new learning’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 44 (1994), pp. 2644. For an example of this, see Gardiner to the duke of Somerset, 21 May 1547, in Muller J. A., ed., The letters of Stephen Gardiner (Cambridge, 1933), p. 278, ‘your Grace tolde me you wold suffer no innovacion … it were pity to troble it with any innovacion’. There was always an element of ambivalence about the concept of novelty, and its positive connotations gradually strengthened over the next two centuries. For detailed consideration of this process see Withington P., Society in early modern England: the vernacular origins of some powerful ideas (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 73101.

14 Thomas William, The pilgrim, ed. Froude J. A. (London, 1861), p. 38.

15 Erasmus to Justus Jonas, 13 June 1521, ep. 1211, CWE, viii, pp. 225–44, at pp. 242–3. The pacifist sentiments of Erasmus's essay on the adage Dulce bellum inexpertis (first published in 1515) were entirely alien to Henry.

16 CWE, vi, ep. 964, pp. 356–62, Erasmus to Henry VIII, 15 May 1519 (Antwerp), refers to this disputation as having been ‘lately conducted’ (pp. 360–1).

17 J. S. Brewer, J. Gairdner, and R. H. Brodie, eds., Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII (London, 1862–1932) (hereafter LP) Addenda i. 328, no date, Henry VIII to Mr Cleymundus, London, The National Archives (TNA), SP1/233, fo. 106r. The letter addresses Claymond as ‘nostro sacellano’.

18 CWE, ix, ep. 1313, pp. 178–83, at p. 181, Erasmus to Duke George of Saxony, 3 Sept. 1522, from Basel.

19 Gardiner to Cranmer, c. July 1547, in Muller, ed., Letters of Stephen Gardiner, pp. 316–60, at p. 336.

20 See below, n. 85.

21 Hall Edward, The Vnion of the two noble and illustrate famelies of Lancastre & Yorke (London: Grafton, 1548; STC 12721), ‘The triumphaunt reigne of Kyng Henry the .VIII.’, fo. ccxxxiiiv; John Foxe, Actes and monuments (1563 recension), pp. 531–7. See p. 534 for Henry's white clothing (references to the first edition via Foxe's Book of martyrs variorum edition online, found at Henry may have been emulating the royal predecessor for whom he had the most admiration, Henry V, who, as prince of Wales, had presided at the burning of the Lollard John Badby, and had sought to persuade that unfortunate man to recant.

22 Bernard, King's Reformation, p. 233. Henry made this pilgrimage in Jan. 1511. Hall, Vnion of … Lancastre & Yorke, ‘Henry VIII’, fo. ixr, notes the birth of Prince Henry in January 1511, adding that ‘Shortly after, and before the Quenes churchinge, the kynge rode to Walsingham’. The King's Book of Payments (LP 2.ii. p. 1449) records an offering of £1 13s 4d at Walsingham in Jan. 1511. It also records that Henry was at the house of Sir Robert Cotton on 19 and 26 Jan. 1511. Sir Robert Cotton's seat was at Landwade, just outside Newmarket, on one route from London to Walsingham.

23 LP 2.ii. pp. 1451 (£20 in June 1511) and 1458 (Barnard Flour, £23 11s 4d in Nov. 1512). Bernard notes these payments but sees no further significance in the fact that it was Walsingham that benefited from what he rightly observes was Henry's rather limited expenditure on ‘religious buildings or ornamentation’ (King's Reformation, p. 234).

24 Samman Neil, ‘The progresses of Henry VIII, 1509–1529’, in MacCulloch D., ed., The Reign of Henry VIII: politics, policy and piety (Basingstoke, 1995), pp. 5973, at p. 71, citing the Lestrange family accounts at British Library (BL) Add. MS 27,449.

25 Starkey, Henry: virtuous prince, p. 198 and n. 3 (pp. 383–4). Wolsey's letter to Sir Richard Jerningham of 20 May 1521 reports Henry's illness, recovery, and pilgrimage, as well as the duke of Buckingham's treason and execution (LP 3.i.1293).

26 For John Schorne and his cult, see R. G. Davies, ‘Schorne, John (d. in or before 1315)’, (ODNB). I must thank Alec Corio and Eamon Duffy for bringing to my attention the link between the cult of John Schorne and the royal chapel at Windsor.

27 For Henry's visit to the shrine at Ipswich, see Blatchly J. and MacCulloch D., Miracles in Lady Lane: the Ipswich shrine at the Westgate (Ipswich, 2013), p. 25. For a transcript of Curson's account, see pp. 69–74; and for a discussion of it, see pp. 20 and 23–4. I owe this fascinating material to the kindness of the anonymous reader for Historical Journal.

28 The complete works of St Thomas More, vi:A Dialogue concerning heresies, ed. T. M. C. Lawler et al. (2 vols. New Haven and London, 1981), i, pp. 93–4. Thomas More was with the king on his summer progress that year. See LP 3.ii.2544 and 2555, letters from More to Wolsey sent from Newhall (Essex) on 14 and 21 Sept. 1522.

29 Offerings made at shrines and recorded in the ‘King's Book of Payments’ on various occasions in the years 1509–18 (LP 2.ii. pp. 1441–80), summarizing the information in TNA E36/215 and E36/216.

30 Bernard, King's Reformation, pp. 232–3.

31 TNA E36/215, p. 104, entry under the week commencing 2 Feb. 1511.

32 LP 1.i.885, g.7.

33 Erasmus had written this jeu d'esprit in 1509, and dedicated it to Thomas More, so it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a copy might have reached Henry's court in manuscript. For the composition of the work see D. Erasmus, The praise of Folly, translated with an introduction and commentary by C. H. Miller (New Haven and London, 1979), pp. ix–x. Note Folly's comment (p. 78) that ‘Some man will go to Jerusalem, Rome, or St. James of Compostella, where he has no business, abandoning his wife and children at home.’ There is no copy of Encomium moriae recorded in the inventory of Henry VIII's library, but one suspects that this is because he had a copy and then threw it out in the 1530s on account of its close connection with Thomas More (none of More's printed works are found in the inventory either). The library included several copies of the Enchiridion. See Carley J. P., ed., The libraries of King Henry VIII (London, 2000), Westminster, items 181, 182, 183, and 194.

34 Henry VIII, Assertio septem sacramentorum, ed. Fraenkel, pp. 124–6.

35 The King's Book of Payments notes that he made his offering that day ‘at the pardon’ (LP 2.ii. p. 1452). See Twemlow J. A., ed., Calendar of entries in the papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: papal letters, xiii: 1471–1484 (London, 1955), p. 8, for Sixtus IV's plenary indulgence, granted 16 Aug. 1479, for those visiting St George's on the feasts of St George, St Edward, or the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. In 1534, the chapel had ‘a lytell rownde box of burall with a couer inamyled closed in a syluer and gyltt havyng Seynt Edwards armes contayneng divers reliques’ (presumably of St Edward himself). See M. Bond, ed., The inventories of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, 1384–1667 (Windsor, 1947), p. 169, item 20.

36 See e.g. TNA E36/215, p. 161, for an offering at St Edward's shrine on Wednesday 4 Feb. 1512, at the votive mass of the Holy Spirit for the opening of parliament.

37 TNA E36/215, pp. 59 and 120. For the indulgence, see Harvey B., ‘The monks of Westminster and the Old Lady Chapel’, in Tatton-Brown T. and Mortimer R., eds., Westminster Abbey: the Lady Chapel of Henry VII (Woodbridge, 2003), pp. 531, at p. 30. Both dates fell within Ascensiontide.

38 TNA E36/215, p. 185; Morgan Nigel, ‘The scala coeli indulgence and the royal chapels’, in Thompson B., ed., The reign of Henry VII (Stamford, CA, 1995), pp. 82103, at p. 90.

39 Henry VIII to Clement VII, 10 Oct. 1524, in State papers (11 vols., London, 1830–52), vi, no. ci, p. 353. The golden rose had been presented to Henry at St George's, Windsor, on 8 Sept. 1524, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. See Hall, Vnion of … Lancastre & Yorke, ‘Henry VIII’, fo. cxxxr.

40 LP 4.i.652, John Clerk to Wolsey, Rome, 12 Sept. 1524, summarizing the papal brief.

41 King's Book of Payments, LP 2.ii.1465.

42 Nicolas N. H., ed., The privy purse expences of King Henry the Eighth (London, 1827), p. 273.

43 Bernard, King's Reformation, p. 643 n. 40, argues that these offerings do not constitute evidence against his interpretation of Henry VIII's devotional inclinations. In doing so, he sets a very high bar for pilgrims to vault. Henry's visits to shrines en passant, he declares, are not ‘devotional travel, undertaken in the spirit of pilgrimage to a particular shrine, making a special journey, going out of one's way’ (p. 233). But visiting shrines, even en passant, still qualifies for the spiritual benefits of pilgrimage.

44 Hall, Vnion of … Lancastre & Yorke, ‘Henry VIII’, fo. ccviir. (fo. cclixr).

45 Ibid., fo. cclixr: Henry ‘commaunded that our Lady Churche of Bullein, should be defaced and plucked doune, where he appoointed a Mount to be made, for the greate force and strength of the toune’. See Alain Lottin (dir.), Histoire de Boulogne-sur-Mer (Lille, 1983), for the thirteenth-century origin of the cult of Our Lady of Boulogne (p. 77), for some pilgrims’ badges (p. 79), for Henry's sack of the shrine (p. 107), and for the eventual return of the image in 1551 (p. 108).

46 The King's Payments, LP 13.ii.1280. Compare, e.g., pp. 529 and 535 for the cessation of the payments at Walsingham between Lady Day and Michaelmas 1538.

47 Bernard, King's Reformation, p. 232.

48 See Rummel Erika, Erasmus (London, 2004), pp. 3953, for a nuanced account of Erasmus's views on devotion and piety; and McConica J., Erasmus (Oxford, 1991), pp. 4562, for the ‘philosophy of Christ’. See also Bradshaw B., ‘The Christian humanism of Erasmus’, Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 33 (1982), pp. 411–47, for a penetrating analysis of the Erasmian enterprise.

49 Bernard, King's Reformation, p. 233; Nicolas, ed., Privy purse expences, p. 266.

50 LP 2.ii. p. 1465, Sept. 1514.

51 Henry VIII to James IV, 12 Aug. 1513, in M. Byrne St C., ed., The letters of Henry VIII (London, 1936), pp. 1819.

52 LP 1.ii.2330, g. 4, 4 Sept. 1513, stipulates that lands from Lady Margaret Beaufort's estates are to be granted to Windsor in accordance with the king's will, with a mortmain licence. It is likely that the provision this will proposed was much the same as that in his final will.

53 See LP 3.i.463, item 3; and LP 4.ii.5114. Both inventories include several images of St George. The page with the entry from 1519 is very badly damaged (TNA SP1/19, fos. 42r–67v, at 62r), and the missing words might well confirm the identification of this object with that in the 1528 list (TNA SP1/52, fos. 23r–37v, at 23r).

54 Bernard argues that Henry's approach to the epidemic of 1528 was ‘entirely secular’. See Bernard, ‘Piety of Henry VIII’, p. 76. The evidence presented here and elsewhere in this article suggests otherwise.

55 Lisa Jefferson, ‘The statutes of the order’, in Begent P. J. and Chesshyre H., The most noble order of the Garter: 650 years (London, 1999), pp. 5276, esp. pp. 62–5. For Edward VI's revisions of the Garter statutes, see MacCulloch D., Tudor church militant: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (London, 1999), pp. 30–6, esp. p. 32.

56 Loach J., ‘The function of ceremonial in the reign of Henry VIII’, Past and Present, 142 (1994), pp. 4368, at p. 63.

57 Axton R., ‘Lord Morley's funeral’, in Axton M. and Carley J. P., eds., Triumphs of English: Henry Parker, Lord Morley, translator to the Tudor court (London, 2000), pp. 213–24, at p. 218, notes that from Henry VII's time, the use of a fourth banner representing the ‘advourer’ of the deceased had been customary at noble funerals. The banner of Good King Henry was also used at Lord Morley's funeral in 1556. Diarmaid MacCulloch has suggested that the use of this banner at Henry's funeral might be connected to the coronation pageants laid on by city of London for Edward soon afterwards, which were based on those which Lydgate had composed for Henry VI's entry into London in 1432. See MacCulloch, Tudor church militant, pp. 62–3. However, while it may indeed have suited the regime to play up continuity with the past through the use of the Lydgate pageants, the appearance of Good King Henry's banner at the royal funeral seems most likely simply to reflect Henry VIII's devotion, or at least the fact that Henry VI was his name-saint.

58 For the nature and extent of delay in late medieval canonizations, see Vauchez A., Sainthood in the later middle ages (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 62–4. For the popularity of the cult of Henry VI, see Freeman T. S., ‘Ut verus Christi sequester: John Blacman and the cult of Henry VI’, in Clark L., ed., Of mice and men: image, belief and regulation in late medieval England (Woodbridge, 2005), pp. 127–42. I am grateful to Alec Corio for discussions of this subject.

59 See e.g. TNA E36/215, pp. 68–9 (July 1510), 85 (Oct. 1510); and E363/316, pp. 95 (27 May 1519) and 105 (July 1519, departure, offerings by proxy).

60 King's Book of Payments, LP 3.ii., p. 1536 (1520); Chamber accounts, LP 5, pp. 315 and 319 (1529–30). These offerings are distinct from the scheduled offerings at those shrines which were made on his behalf by his servants.

61 LP 4.ii.5114 (TNA SP1/52, fo. 31r).

62 T. Rymer, ed., Foedera, conventiones, literae (3rd edn, The Hague, 1739–45), vi, pt iii, pp. 142–5, at p. 143.

63 Andreae Ammonii carmina omnia, ed. Clemente Pizzi (Florence, 1958), pp. 35–40.

64 A similar inference might be drawn regarding Bernard André's Hymni Christiani (Paris: Bade, 1517), which was dedicated to Henry VIII, although many of the verses therein had doubtless been composed in Henry VII's reign.

65 Bond S., ed., The chapter acts of the dean and canons of Windsor, 1430, 1523–1672 (Windsor, 1966), p. 10. For Erasmus's comment, see In novum testamentum … adnotationes (4th edn, Basel: Froben, 1527), pp. 87–8. It is also worth noting that the shrine of Our Lady of Ipswich, which had been absorbed into the Wolsey family business in 1525, when Wolsey's son Thomas Winter was presented to the rectory of St Matthew in which the shrine chapel stood, not only survived Wolsey's fall in 1529 but was granted, along with that rectory and other Wolsey spoils, to the dean and chapter of Windsor by a royal grant of 27 Sept. 1532 (LP 5.1531). Henry still seems to have been willing to endow the royal chapel with spiritual capital of an entirely traditional character.

66 Brown R., ed., Calendar of state papers … of Venice, iii: 1520–26 (London, 1869), pp. 1415.

67 Eighth report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. Appendix part II (London, 1881), p. 21, an annotated warrant to Thomas Pope, dated 28 May 1537.

68 Francis, bishop of Famagusta, to Henry VIII, from Rome, 8 Oct. 1512, introducing the bearer, one Peter de Silva of Famagusta, and listing the gifts he was carrying. See LP 1.i.1429, and BL MS Cotton Vitellius B.ii.30.

69 Nicolas, ed., Privy purse expences, pp. 67 (8 Aug. 1530, from Windsor) and 148 (22 July 1531, from Chertsey). Chertsey had been Henry VI's resting place before his remains were transferred to Windsor. Relic water was water that had been specially hallowed by contact with relics or reliquaries, and thus lay well towards the ‘superstitious’ end of the spectrum of medieval piety.

70 TNA SP1/66, fo. 27v (LP 5.276), in accounts relating to the King's Jewels for the period Aug. 1530–May 1531. The entry for ‘a dyamond in the broche of our lady of Bologne’ follows an entry dated Christmas Day. See above, n. 45, for Our Lady of Boulogne.

71 There may also have been an element of punning wit in the choice of ‘Our Lady of Boulogne’ to celebrate Lady Anne Boleyn. See above, n. 45, for ‘Bullein’ as a spelling of Boulogne. Anne's family name was usually rendered as ‘Bullen’ or ‘Bullan’ in sixteenth-century documents.

72 Starkey David, ed., The inventory of King Henry VIII (London, 1998), p. 14, item 190. A sermon of Cuthbert bysshop of Duresme (London: Berthelet, 1539; STC 24322), sig. A8v. For the proclamation of 26 Feb. 1539, see Hughes P. L. and Larkin J. F., eds., Tudor royal proclamations (3 vols., New Haven, CT, 1964–9), i, no. 188, p. 279.

73 Starkey, ed., Inventory of Henry VIII, pp. 6 and 238 (item 10633). The Westminster pictures (pp. 237–40) include pictures of contemporary princes as well as some programmatic pictures symbolizing Henry's overthrow of the papacy.

74 Ibid., p. 288, items 12310 (Edward), 12321 (stoning the pope: now known as Girolamo da Treviso's Protestant allegory), and 12337 (Jerome).

75 H. Ellis, ed., Original letters illustrative of English history (11 vols., London, 1825–46), i.i.293.

76 See e. g. The complete works of St Thomas More, viii:The confutation of Tyndale's answer, ed. L. A. Schuster et al. (New Haven, CT, and London, 1973), pp. 173–4.

77 H. Latimer, Sermons and remains, ed. G. E. Corrie (Cambridge, 1845), p. 364.

78 For the events and politics surrounding this, see Marshall Peter, ‘The Rood of Boxley, the blood of Hailes and the defence of the Henrician Church’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 46 (1995), pp. 689–96.

79 Latimer, Sermons and remains, p. 407 n. 5. Although it is sometimes said that Richard Tracy was rewarded with a grant of the abbey property after its dissolution, and adapted its buildings to furnish himself with a fine house, that property did not in fact come into the hands of the Tracy family until the seventeenth century. For the fate of the abbey site, see W. St C. Baddeley, A Cotteswold shrine (Gloucester, 1908). At first, it formed part of a monastic property portfolio held by Robert Acton (p. 121), but after his mismanagement was exposed (pp. 125–6), the lands were successively granted to Katherine Parr, to her husband Thomas Seymour (Lord Sudeley), and to her brother William (marquis of Northampton), before reverting to the crown (p. 133). Some of the abbey buildings were left standing on the orders of the Court of Augmentations (p. 124), and were successively occupied on leasehold by Henry Hodgkyns (p. 126) and his son-in-law William Hoby (p. 133), before coming into the hands of Sir John Tracy after Hoby's death in 1603 (p. 143).

80 H. Latimer, Sermons, ed. G. E. Corrie (Cambridge, 1844), p. 231.

81 For Henry's commitment to the mass and its associated doctrines, see Bernard, King's Reformation, pp. 238–9 and 492–4.

82 W. Latymer, ‘A chronicle of Anne Boleyn’, ed. M. Dowling, Camden Miscellany xxx, Camden Soc. 4th ser., 39 (1990), pp. 23–65, at p. 62.

83 Ibid., pp. 60–1. The relic was not destroyed until two years after Anne's execution. However, the appearances of Latymer's claim may be preserved if we speculate that the meaning of the relic's having been ‘plucked downe’ in 1535 was not that it was destroyed, but simply that it was removed from public display. Some chronological confusion may be forgiven in a memoir written more than twenty years later, and is no reason to reject outright this testimony to Anne's intervention.

84 Eighth report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, p. 21, an annotated warrant to Thomas Pope, dated 28 May 1537.

85 Gardiner to the duke of Somerset, 6 June 1547, in Muller, ed., Letters of Stephen Gardiner, pp. 286–96, at p. 290.

86 It might be argued that Henry's position on images reflected that of the Orthodox churches of the East, which venerated two-dimensional images – icons – while eschewing those in three dimensions. But his continued insistence on the place of the three-dimensional crucifix in worship makes his solution to this particular theological problem unique, as far as I know. While the Greek tradition also includes veneration of the cross, the image of Christ upon it is itself usually two-dimensional, rather than three-dimensional as in the Latin tradition. Nor is there clear evidence that all three-dimensional images were removed, or meant to be removed, from English churches under the terms of the Injunctions of 1538: only those that were the objects of superstitious worship. For Henry's creeping to the cross on Good Friday 1539, see John Worth to Lord Lisle, 15 May 1539, in M. St. C. Byrne, ed., The Lisle letters (6 vols. Chicago, IL, 1981), v, p. 478. There is a great deal of literature on Henrician iconoclasm, but for a start, see E. Duffy, The stripping of the altars: traditional religion in England, c. 1400 – c. 1580 (New Haven, CT, and London, 1992), pp. 402–10, and Rex, Henry VIII and the English Reformation, pp. 96–9. For a fuller account, see Aston Margaret, England's iconoclasts (Oxford, 1988), pp. 222–46. Aston also offers a helpful account of Orthodox views on images and in particular of the Tudor Church of England's tendentious claims that these were in line with its own more iconoclastic and iconophobic positions (pp. 49–58). I am grateful to Fr Nicholas Vernezos for further advice on Greek Orthodox devotional practice.

87 See the expositions of the second commandment in the ‘Bishops’ Book’ (1537) and the ‘King's Book’ (1543): The institution of a Christen man (London: Berthelet, 1537; STC 5164), fo. 57v–58r; and Lacey T. A., ed., The King's Book; or, A necessary doctrine and erudition for any Christian man (Oxford, 1825; repr. London, 1932), pp. 87–8. See also Aston, England 's iconoclasts, pp. 239–46 and 371–81.

88 Bernard, ‘Piety of Henry VIII’, p. 73: ‘Henry VIII was never much committed to monasteries’.

89 Ellis, ed., Original letters, iii.i.166; LP i.ii.2715, 12 Mar. 1514. By a bull dated 2 Jan. 1514, Leo X allowed the Observant Franciscans of England to enjoy the use, though not the formal ownership, of ‘substantial buildings and magnificent ecclesiastical ornaments’ (domos amplas; & magnifica ornamenta Ecclesiastica), confirming a concession said to have been previously granted by Julius II at the specific request of the queen of England (i.e. Catherine of Aragon). See Magnum bullarium romanum (19 vols., Luxembourg, 1727–58), i, pp. 542–3. In 1517 Leo enacted the formal separation of the Observant and Conventual Franciscans, referring to petitions for this from several monarchs, including Henry VIII (ibid., i, pp. 583–6, esp. p. 584). Henry's letter to this effect is calendared at LP 1.i.1740, 13 Apr. 1511.

90 Stephen Baron, Sermones declamati coram alma vniuersitate Cantibrigiensi (London: Wynkyn de Worde, n.d. [c. 1509?]; STC 1497), title page, refers to himself as confessor to the king. It is only fair to point out, however, that Henry VIII soon became the first English king for a century or two whose confessor was not a friar. William Atwater was described as his confessor in a papal letter providing him to the bishopric of Lincoln. See Fuller A. P., ed., Calendar of entries in the papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: papal letters, xx: 1513–1521 (Dublin, 2005), no. 379, 15 Sept. 1514. His successor as bishop of Lincoln, John Longland, was Henry's confessor in the 1520s.

91 On Catherine's support for the Observants, see C. S. L. Davies and J. Edwards, ‘Katherine (1485–1536), queen of England, first consort of Henry VIII’, ODNB.

92 Rummel, Erasmus, pp. 43–7, offers a sensitive summary of Erasmus's views on monasticism. For Erasmus's memoir of Jean Vitrier, given in the same letter as his memoir of Colet, see Erasmus to Justus Jonas, 13 June 1521, ep. 1211, CWE, viii, pp. 225–44, at pp. 226–32. Even here, though, Erasmus snipes at aspects of life in a religious order.

93 Martin A. R., Franciscan architecture in England (Manchester, 1937), p. 238 n. 2. For Peto's sermon, see Chapuys to Charles V, 16 Apr. 1532, LP 5.941, and the helpful discussion in Bernard, King's Reformation, pp. 152–3.

94 See P. Marshall, ‘Crisis of allegiance: George Throckmorton and Henry Tudor’, in Marshall P. and Scott G., eds., Catholic gentry in English society: the Throckmortons of Coughton from Reformation to Emancipation (Farnham, 2009), pp. 3167, at p. 41. For Peto, see T. F. Mayer, ‘Peto [Peyto], William (c. 1485–1558)’, ODNB. See LP 12.ii.952 for the interrogations of Sir George Throckmorton that preserve Peto's gossip.

95 Chapuys to Charles V, 16 Apr. 1532, LP 5.941.

96 LP 5.1346 accounts for this gift on 26 Sept. 1532. But the chapter itself seems to have been held in August. John Lawrence OFM Obs. wrote to Henry VIII on 29 Aug. 1532 from Richmond reporting on its proceedings (LP 5.1259). Warham had died on 22 Aug. 1532.

97 LP 5.1525, Richard Lyst OFM Obs. to Cromwell, 7 Nov. 1532, reporting on Forest's sermon the previous Sunday. Along with John Lawrence, Lyst was acting as an inside man and informer for Thomas Cromwell.

98 Bernard, King's Reformation, pp. 442–5. His observation that the ‘supposed’ refoundations were merely ‘technical’ expedients that implied no ‘supposed continuing commitment to monasticism’ nor ‘any special religious fervour’ (p. 445) is made without reference to the affirmation in the charters of Henry's ‘devotion’ to the Blessed Virgin or to the use of Henry's own name in the titles of the new houses. See Rex R. and Armstrong C. D. C., ‘Henry VIII's ecclesiastical and collegiate foundations’, Historical Research, 75 (2002), pp. 390407, at p. 397. Bernard refers to this article, but does not address its argument on these two points. For an early sign of Henry's devotion, see Pace to Wolsey, 9 Sept. 1521, reporting that, on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, Henry had ‘differrydde … to write unto yow his letters off his own hande, for the seyynge of hys matens in honorem Divae Virginis’ (State papers, i, no. xxxiv, p. 51).

99 The citation is from Bernard, King's Reformation, p. 444.

100 The King's Payments, LP 13.ii.1280. A quarterly payment of £25 is listed at Lady Day 1538 (p. 528), but had stopped by Christmas that year (p. 537). This account book begins only in 1537–8, so it is not certain when the payments had begun.

101 Nicolas, ed., Privy purse expences, p. 150 (July 1531).

102 Martin, Franciscan architecture in England, pp. 234–9, on Greenwich. See also p. 24 for the proximity of the Richmond and Greenwich Observant houses to the royal palaces there. Colvin H. W., ed., The history of the king's works (6 vols., London, 1963–82), iv, pp. 105–6, discusses the Observant house and church at Greenwich, and reports that there was a separate royal chapel at the other (west) end of the complex. The royal chapel must have been splendid, as a warrant of 22 Oct. 1519 authorized delivery of £200 to Thomas Forster (Controller of the King's Works) for works at Greenwich which included ‘gylding and paynting of our Chapell’ (LP 3.1.483; SP 1/19, fo. 74r). The friars’ church is clearly visible (with its roof intact and in good repair) in the views of the palace drawn by Anton van den Wyngaerde c. 1544 and 1558. See Colvin, ed., History of the king's works, iv, plates 4 and 5, for the 1558 views; and A. van den Wyngaerde, The panorama of London circa 1544, ed. H. Colvin and S. Foister (London, 1996), drawing xiii, for 1544. In the 1544 view, Wyngaerde seems to have the perspective wrong, as the church is shown perpendicular to the Thames rather than parallel, as in the 1558 views.

103 LP 2.i.1573 for Mary's christening; and LP 6.1111 for Elizabeth's. Both accounts state explicitly that the ceremony was performed in the friars’ church.

104 Martin, Franciscan architecture in England, p. 238, referring to BL Egerton MS 2341 A and B (two paper rolls, probably originally one) for this decorative programme. Every figure in the window was of royal blood. MS 2341 A claims to describe five great panes, but only four are now described, focusing respectively on Queen Elizabeth, Henry VII, Lady Margaret Beaufort, and Princess Margaret. It would seem that the description of the first pane is now lost. It would have stood at the head of the roll, and presumably focused on Prince Arthur.

105 Latimer, Sermons and remains, p. 249.

106 Both the Ten Articles of 1536 and the ‘Bishops’ Book’ of 1537 still employ the name and concept of ‘purgatory’ although they call for the eradication of the ‘abuses’ connected with it, namely ‘the bysshop of Romes pardons’ (i.e. papal indulgences). See G. Bray, ed., Documents of the English Reformation (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 173–4; and The institution of a Christen man (STC 5164), fos. 96v–97r (for the words cited).

107 See ‘Of prayer for souls departed’, in Lacey, ed., King's Book, p. 163, ‘it is a very good and charitable deed to pray for souls departed’; and p. 164, ‘it is much necessary … that we therefore abstain from the name of purgatory, and no more dispute nor reason thereof’.

108 Jefferson, ‘Statutes of the order’, p. 67.

109 STC 14077c37, letter of confraternity, printed by Richard Pynson, presumably in 1511. See LP 1.i.857, g. 18 for the letters patent granted to the churchwardens by Henry on 24 Aug. 1511 while he was at Nottingham Castle

110 LP 12.ii.1042, Richard Gresham to Cromwell, 8 Nov. 1537.

111 Rex and Armstrong, ‘Henry VIII's ecclesiastical and collegiate foundations’, p. 395. See e.g. Prescott J. E., ed., The statutes of the cathedral church of Carlisle (2nd edn, Carlisle, 1903), p. 88; and Kitchin G. W. and Madge F. T., eds., Documents relating to the foundation of the chapter of Winchester (London, 1889), p. 144.

112 Gunn S., ‘Edmund Dudley and the church’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 51 (2000), pp. 509–26, at pp. 510 and 514.

113 A copy of the letters wherin the most redouted & mighty prince … Henry VIII … made answere unto a certayne letter of Martyn Luther (London: R. Pynson, n.d. [1528]; STC 13087), sig. A2r. The letter was originally published in Latin (see below, n. 129).

114 The complete works of St Thomas More, ix:The Apology, ed. J. B. Trapp (New Haven, CT, and London, 1979), p. 50. For Fisher's comment, see TNA SP2/R, fo. 192v, ‘Quamobrem et de utrisque hoc est et Regibus et Pontificibus psalmus presens intelligi potest. Et profecto quid ex utrorumque vigilantia tantopere pendeat reipublicae christianae vel salus vel interitus.’

115 Bernard, ‘Piety of Henry VIII’, pp. 62–88, at p. 65.

116 LP 1.i.1094, 13 Mar. 1512.

117 Mayer T. F., ‘On the road to 1534: the occupation of Tournai and the Henry VIII's theory of sovereignty’, in Hoak D., ed., Tudor political culture (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 1130, at pp. 13 and 21.

118 Henry VIII to the bishop of Worcester, c. Jan. 1517, in J. O. Halliwell, ed., Letters of the kings of England (2 vols., London, 1846), i, pp. 235–44, at p. 237.

119 Bernard, ‘Piety of Henry VIII’, pp. 63–5, esp. p. 65, ‘And yet, and yet, the letter does reveal a frame of mind … that could … ultimately lead to a chain of events culminating in a renunciation of papal authority.’

120 See e.g. Elton G. R., Reform and Reformation: England, 1509–1558 (London, 1977), p. 56; Ridley Jasper, Henry VIII (London, 1984), p. 104 (which cites more of the text, but silently omits the phrase about temporal jurisdiction); D. MacCulloch, ‘Henry VIII and the reform of the church’, in MacCulloch, ed., Reign of Henry VIII, pp. 159–80, at p. 165; Loades David, Henry VIII: court, church and conflict (Kew, 2007), p. 179; and E. W. Ives, ‘Henry VIII (1491–1547)’, ODNB. Needless to say, John Guy cites the full context in ‘Thomas Cromwell and the intellectual origins of the Henrician Revolution’, in A. Fox and J. Guy, Reassessing the Henrician age: humanism, politics and reform, 1500–1550 (Oxford, 1986), pp. 151–78, at p. 166. He is also careful to note that Henry's aim is to safeguard his ‘territorial sovereignty’ (p. 167), though perhaps he does not fully appreciate the weight that the word ‘temporal’ carries here. Henry's original words do not survive. What we have is a summary (in Law French) of the proceedings at two sessions (one at Blackfriars and the other at Baynard's Castle) of a sort of Great Council held in the Trinity Term 1515 to resolve the crisis over ecclesiastical liberties ignited by the Hunne case. It is printed in Robert Keilway, Relationes quorundam casuum selectorum (London: T. Wight, 1602; STC 14901), fos. 180v–85v. The key text is on fo. 185v.

121 Henry VIII to the bishop of Worcester, c. Jan. 1517, in Halliwell, ed., Letters of the kings of England, i, p. 242.

122 See e.g. STC 25947.7, a Latin flysheet publishing Julius II's bull reciting Louis XII's offences against the church, excommunicating him, and releasing his subjects from their allegiance. In this case, even the temporal power of the papacy was acceptable to Henry!

123 King's Book of Payments, LP 2.ii, p. 1461.

124 Halliwell, ed., Letters of the kings of England, i, pp. 204–13, at pp. 211, 205, and 206.

125 R. Brown et al., eds., Calendar of state papers and manuscripts, relating to English affairs … in … Venice, and … Northern Italy (London, 1864–), ii, no. 633, p. 252, report of Venetian ambassadors, 3 July 1515.

126 Ibid., no. 876, p. 381, report of Sebastian Giustinian, 23 Apr. 1517 (‘Pontifex est meus’).

127 N. Pocock, ed., Records of the Reformation (2 vols., Oxford, 1870), i, p. 156, Edward Fox to Stephen Gardiner, May 1528.

128 Henry VIII, Assertio septem sacramentorum, ed. Fraenkel, pp. 128 and 130 (my translation).

129 A copy of the letters … Martyn Luther, sig. F2v. The original Latin reads ‘cuius fastigio, haud nescio quam longo reges intervallo sint impares’. See Henry VIII, Literarum, quibus … Henricus octauus … respondit, ad quandam epistolam Martini Lutheri (London: Pynson, 1526; STC 13084), sig. F6v.

130 Henry VIII to Cardinal Cibo (i.e. Innocenzo Cybo, 1491–1550), 10 July 1527, Halliwell, ed., Letters of the kings of England, i, pp. 286–9, at p. 287. This letter also laments the indignities those troops inflicted upon ‘the precious reliques of God and his holy saints’ (p. 287) and the consecrated eucharistic elements (p. 288).

131 Henry VIII to his ambassadors at Rome, 7 Oct. 1530, warning that the pope would not like his claims to authority to be subjected to scrutiny, and deploying to new effect his own claim to recognize ‘no superior on earth’. TNA SP1/58, fo. 108v (LP 4.iii.6667).

132 Henry VIII, A Protestation made for the most mighty and moste redoubted kynge of Englande (London: Berthelet, 1538; STC 13090), sig. C4v. Tracey Sowerby has argued compellingly for Richard Morison's responsibility for this treatise. See Sowerby, Renaissance and reform in Tudor England, pp. 67–9. This does not detract from the significance of what is here said in the king's name. As Sowerby shows, this treatise was a high royal priority in 1537–8. I should like to thank Mr C. D. C. Armstrong for bringing Sowerby's work on this to my attention.

133 Calendar of state papers Spanish, iv, pt ii:Henry VIII. 1531–1533 (2 vols., London, 1882), i, no. 993, Chapuys to Charles V, 5 Sept. 1532, p. 506 (also summarized at LP 5.1292).

134 State papers, v, pt iv, no. cccxx, p. 85.

135 Thomas, The pilgrim, p. 38. However, Thomas was not satisfied with the extent of Henry's conversion, going on to suggest that Henry ‘did see with but one eye’ (p. 80).

136 BL Royal MS C.xvi. fo. 179r.

137 Parker Henry, Lord Morley, The exposition and declaration of the psalme, Deus ultionum dominus (London, 1539), sig. B5r.

138 35 Hen. VIII, c. 1, in Statutes of the realm (11 vols. in 12. London, 1810–28), iii, p. 956.

139 Palamedes Gontier to Admiral Chabot, London, 5 Feb. 1535, in Les memoires de messire Michel de Castelnau (4 vols., Brussels, 1731), i, pp. 405–13, at p. 411, ‘l'aise & repos de conscience’ (summarized at LP 8.174, p. 59).

140 LP 7.148.

141 Gardiner to Cranmer, c. 12 June 1547, in Muller, ed., Letters of Stephen Gardiner, pp. 299–316, at p. 301.

142 34 & 35 Hen. VIII, c. 1, Statutes of the realm, iii, p. 896.

143 R. Rex, ‘The crisis of obedience: God's word and Henry's Reformation’, Historical Journal, 39 (1996), pp. 863–94, at p. 893.

144 Hall, Vnion of … Lancastre & Yorke, ‘Henry VIII’, fo. cclxiv.

145 John Foxe, Acts and monuments [1570 recension], p. 1229, ‘Lorde open the Kyng of Englandes eyes.’ This prayer is not found in the text of the 1563 recension, pp. 517–26, but appears in the woodcut on p. 523 (references taken from Foxe's Book of martyrs variorum edition online, found at

* I should like to acknowledge helpful comments from two seminars which heard earlier versions of this article: the History of Christianity Seminar in the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge, on 28 Jan. 2009; and the Religious History of Britain 1500–1800 Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research on 8 Feb. 2011. I am also much indebted to the anonymous readers who commented on this article in the form in which it was originally submitted for publication.

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