Henry VIII's Reformation Essay

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Henry VIII's Reformation

In 1529 Henry VIII started to reform the Catholic Church in England, however there are different opinions as to why he began these controversial changes. The orthodox view concurs that there was a vast anti-clerical feeling in 16th century England; the corrupt church was unpopular with the masses. However the revisionist view claims that the reformation was actually due to politics. Henry needed a male heir and therefore needed a divorce. The needs and wants of the masses were not taken into consideration. In this essay I am going to look at England pre-reformation and reach my own opinion of whether or not England was actually in need of a reformation in 1529.
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But were the clergy really that bad, and if they were would people not have done anything about it? In the diocese of Lincoln, which had 1,006 individual parishes, they only had 25 complaints of sexual misconduct for the whole year. This is a low figure, which proves that the deficiencies of the clergy have either been fiercely exaggerated or that people didn't have a problem with the incidents and therefore didn't report them. The interesting fact is that after the reformation, the number of complaints rose. Surely this suggests that it was the reformation that caused the anti-clericalism and not the other way round.

Many laypeople did see the clergy, as greedy and excessive, people were growing discontented with hypocritical clergy such as Wolsey. Wolsey was 10x richer than his nearest rival even though he was the son of a butcher; many people found this deceitful, after all when ordained he would have taken a pledge of poverty. He would also have taken a pledge of chastity, yet he had a mistress. Despite his great power within the church, he actually did very little for the religion. He became a symbol of everything that was wrong with the church and we know that many influential people didn't like him, such as Thomas Howard. However Wolsey was only one man within the church and many of
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