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The Reformation

The most famous story of the Tudor reign is probably that of Henry VIII and his six wives. Religion was closely tied to this story, because in order to divorce his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, Henry required a decree from the Pope declaring his marriage invalid. The Pope would not grant this, and Henry in a rather arrogant gesture declared that he was the head of the Church in England, and that he would essentially start his own Church, known as the Anglican or Church of England.

Henry was excommunicated and the break with the Roman church was essentially complete, though his advisors would vacillate backwards and forwards for many years to come; his third wife Jane Seymour for example spent much time trying to reconcile Henry with Rome, but to no avail.

Henry’s reformation of the church involved not only creating a new church, with himself at its head, but also changes in the way worship was conducted and in the way the church itself was organised. This work was continued by his son Edward and the effects of the Reformation continued throughout the entire period, and into Stuart times.