King Henry VIII's Initiation of the Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation, which arose in the sixteenth century, is today known as the religious revolution that ended the ecclesiastical supremacy of the pope throughout Western Europe. The Protestant Reformation also inevitably brought about changes to Western Europe's way of life. The Reformation drastically altered Western Europe's political, economical, and cultural elements as the revolution came to a high when King Henry VIII first defied the authority of the church. There are many candidates who are thought as being responsible for the inauguration of the Protestant Reformation. Among them John Wycliffe, John Calvin, John Knox, and certainly Martin Luther. But excluded from the list is a man who may have well been the leader of the rebellious group, King Henry VIII.
Because of King Henry VIII's direct and deliberate defiance of the pope it is clear that King Henry VIII is indeed the creator of the Protestant Reformation (Stevens www).
Born in London in 1491, King Henry VIII, son of Henry VII, succeeded the throne to England at the young age of eighteen. He later went on to marry his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon. At the beginning of his reign Henry was well liked by all of his subjects because of his hearty personality and his military proficiency. It was not until 1527 that Henry publicly announced his desire to divorce his wife, claiming that Catherine failed to produce a male heir to the throne. After many court cases with Pope Clement VII, Thomas Cramner declared Henry's marriage with Catherine void. Catherine's only surviving child was Mary I. This event would be the first of many cases in which Henry VIII continuously defied the pope (Dwyers 34-42).
During his marriage to Catherine, Henry fell in love with the young and beautiful Anne Boleyn. Shortly after the divorce with Catherine, Henry and Anne were married. Now that Henry had officially defied the Catholic Church, Henry set out to break away from the papacy. Through Parliament legislation, Henry secured control of the clergy, forcing the group to recognize him as the "Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority (Erickson 61)" in the Church of England. All of England was compelled to acknowledge Henry's supremacy, as all who refused were executed, most notably Sir Thomas More and English cardinal John Fisher. Henry also dissolved all monasteries across England, giving the land to nobles who supported him (Erickson 57-64).
Still irate about the fact that he had no son, Henry charged Anne, who gave birth to future queen Elizabeth I, with incest and adultery and had her executed. Henry then married Jane Seymour who gave birth to a son, Edward VI. A few days after Jane's death during birth, Henry married the German princess Anne of Cleves in order to make ties with Protestant princes of Germany. Due to the fact that Anne was unattractive and ties with Germany no longer seemed relevant, Henry divorced yet again and married Catherine Howard during the same year. She was executed instantly after being accused of adultery and Henry married his last wife, Catherine Parr, who survived him. All in all Henry had six total marriages: two wives divorced, two wives executed, one that died giving birth, and his final wife who survived him (Picard 38-45).
After Henry's divorce with Catherine of Aragon, Henry started a religious revolution, which is known today as the Protestant Reformation. Some say Henry did not even wish to introduce a Protestant rebellion, he just wanted to reform the Roman Catholic Church. While it is true that other great reformers of the Protestant Reformation came before him, no other reformer had beaten the Roman Catholic Church and the pope in court. Reformers like Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, and John Knox all spoke out against Roman Catholicism, but none attacked it as vigorously as Henry VIII. In the end Henry created a new Church of England called the Anglican Church, which ended the pope's ties with England permanently (Ridley 48-57).
As the leader of this new Church of England Henry was often barbarous and ruthless. "Obedience to the papacy remained a criminal offense. Consequently, many Lutherans were burned as heretics, and Roman Catholics who refused to recognize the ecclesiastical supremacy of the king were executed (Stevens www)." The previous quote serves as concrete evidence that Henry was