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Henry VIII and the Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther and John Calvin are two of the most famous people associated with the Protestant Reformation on the European mainland. But in the islands off the northwest coast of the Continent, in England, Ireland (and Scotland) other people became prominent in continuing or countering what Luther and Calvin had started. King Henry VIII's desire to divorce his wife so he could marry and father a male heir with a new spouse changed him from an opponent of the Protestant Reformation into a monarch who undertook his own form of Reformation. From the mid-1530s Henry promoted ministers who supported his divorce; when the Catholic Church refused to allow the new marriage he so desperately wanted, Henry became the head of the Protestant Church in his kingdoms. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was one of the key supporters of the king; Bishop John Fisher was a vocal opponent of the monarch's actions - both were accomplished and influential writers, and both eventually died for their beliefs.


Portrait of King Henry VIII