A Paradox in British Royal History

If King Henry VIII rejected the Catholic Church, then why did later kings (King James I and Charles I, as horrific examples) of England feel this continued attachment to the Catholic Church?

  • Jinx

Henry VIII was a Tudor. The other guys were Stuarts. They were also Scots.

a) I never had a good grip on this. So, power in England changed families at various points? I wager this mostlikely might have happened when a monarch was childless? …and then along came the illegitamate children to royally screw things up, aye?

OK, one more question… who were the Plantagenates (sp?)? Songwriter Al Stewart wrote a song about Henry VIII, but he mistakenly called him a Plantagenate. So, how do they fit into British history? (Is Robert Plant a Plantagenate?)

Thanks, I need to see a family tree of England for Dummies! <;-)

  • Jinx

Sorry for the typos for, alas, the hour is late… - Jinx

I’m sure someone far more knowledgeable than I will fill in the gaps, but here’s the streamlined version:

Henry VIII did indeed reject Roman Catholicism in order to divorce Catherine of Aragon, but his decision was not the decision of all of England, or even all of his immediate family. His daughter Mary (Catherine’s daughter) was raised a Roman Catholic (like her mother and for that matter like her father until the Church refused to sanction his divorce). Henry VIII was succeeded by his son, Edward VI, who had been raised by strictly protestant tutors – far more radically protestant than his Anglican father – and he was far less tolerant of Catholicism than his father. He died as a teenager and was succeeded by his much older half-sister Mary, who attempted to wrench the country back into Catholicism by, among other things, allowing the zealous burning and executing of protestant “heretics,” earning her the nickname “Bloody Mary.”

Mary was succeeded by the famed Elizabeth I, who was Anglican, definitely not Catholic, but far more religiously tolerant than either her brother or sister. She too allowed the burning of heretics, but only when they were so foolish as to make such public nuisances of themselves that they became political liabilities.

She was succeeded by James I of Scotland, who was raised a Calvinist but like her was generally tolerant of Catholics (his mother being one), until a bunch of them made a strikingly inept attempt to blow up Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot. I don’t believe he was a Catholic, though you list him as an example. Lord knows I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong. :slight_smile:

To make things a little more confusing, by this time the Church of England had sort of divided into two types of services – “High Church,” which retained many of the ceremonies and trappings of Catholicism, and “Low Church,” which spurned such things in favor of a more acstetic protestantism. James I’s successor, Charles I, was very much High Church. He brought a lot of the pomp and ceremonialism back into church rituals that had previously been taken out. He also married a Roman Catholic queen, whom he greatly esteemed, and these things taken together led many to believe he was at heart a Catholic. Which he might have been; certainly the perception that he was at a time when anti-Catholic prejudice was high did not help his popularity.

His son, Charles II, was obviously the son of that same RC queen, and also spent much of his childhood (after the execution of his father) at the RC French court. He is known to have received RC rites before his death, and is generally assumed to have been a “closet Catholic” all his life. He was succeeded by his brother, James II, who was openly Catholic at a time when England was virulently anti-Catholic, and James II’s refusal to accede to various anti-Catholic legislation, coupled with a high-handed and alienating way of ruling, eventually cost him the throne when William of Orange (married to James II’s daughter Mary) was invited over by a strongly Protestant Parliament to be King. William was firmly Protestant and the Kings and Queens of England thereafter were all pretty firmly Protestant as well.

This entire period of the Reformation was a time of great conflict between Catholicism and Anglicanism and Protestantism and, in England at least, a time of increasing prejudice against “Popish” believers. But people are the products of how they are raised, and by whom, and generally the kings and queens of England stayed true to the faiths of their childhoods.

And the Plantagenets were kings of England in the 13th and 14th century, some 250 years before the House of Tudor (Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I).

Jodi has done a good job explaining the basic situation in post-reformation Britain. The two things I would say she forgot to mention was Oliver Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector from 1653-1658 and his son’s brief reign as lord protector in between the execution of Charles I and the accession of Charles II (1660) and the reign for 9 days in 1553 (after the death of Edward VI) of the pious protestant Lady Jane Grey (who was executed in 1554).

Just to clear this up, all the various royal houses were related: The house of Plantagenet were descendents of Henry I (the first Plantagent king Henry II was Henry I grandson) through his daugther ‘queen’ Matilda (from who’s husband, Geoffrey the name Plantagenet was taken). The Plantagenets ruled from 1154 until 1399 (though all kings and queens since have been direct descendents of the second to last Plantagenet king Edward III) when after the deposion and later murder of Richard II the house was split into factions: the Lancastrians and Yorkists. The infighting was ended with the marriage of the Lancastian Henry VII (the first king in the house of tudor who reigned 1485-1509) and Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII was the eldest surving son of this union.

Lady Jane Grey, mentioned above, who ruled for nine days was the great-grandaughter of Henry VII (and therefore great niece of Henry VIII). The first Stuart King of England , James I (VI of Scotland) was the son of Mary, Queen of Scotland who was like LJG the great-grandaughter of Henry VII (and also therfore great niece of Henry VIII), this meant after the death of the last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I, James I was first in line for the throne.

One final of geneology: As well as being married to his daughter (Mary II), William III (of Orange) was also the nephew of James II (i.e. he was the son of James’ sister Mary).

Except they weren’t ‘of England’, were they? They were of the United Kingdom.

Actually there have been several different styles, for example Queen Anne (who suceeded William of Orange), the last Stuart monarch was ‘Anne, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland’ and the proceeding Hanoverian monarchs were styled in a simlair fashion except with the additon of ‘Elector of Hanover’, after that it was ‘the United Kingdom and Hanover’ and todya I believe it’s just ‘the Unite Kingdom’.

‘proceeding’? ‘the following Hanoverian…’

Just in case anyone asks I’ll pre-emptively answer why the British kings and queens were styled ‘of France’. The kings and queens of England were titular kings of France from Henry VI (1422-1461, 1470-1471) until George III (1760-1820), this is as Henry V (Henry VI’s father) married Catherine de Valois daughter of Charles VI, King of France, as part of a treaty and was recognized as the heir to the throne of France however Charles outlive Henry V by a few months which allowed the disinherited Dauphin (another Charles)to seize the throne.

Nits: Henry VIII never actually divorced anyone. He had his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled because it was incestuous (Catherine was the widow of Henry’s older brother, which was considered incest in those days). But it was an annulment, not a divorce.

Henry split with the Catholic Church because the Pope refused to give the annullment. Henry argued that the Pope, who had given Henry a special dispensation to marry, had no authority to say it to overrule the bible by allow the incestuous marriage.

He had his marriage to Anne of Cleves annulled on the grounds on non-consummation. Anne was not attractive to him (the marriage was arranged without him seeing her) and he avoided her sexually from the start to get out of the marriage.

Further, Henry never considered himself a protestant; he saw himself as a good Catholic who just didn’t accept the authority of the current Pope (who was hardly unbiased in Catherine of Aragon’s case, being a family friend).

Yes and no. The United Kingdom didn’t exist as a political entity when William III and Mary came to the throne, although James I of England (James Vi of Scotland) and his successors held both the throne of England and Wales and the throne of Scotland from 1603. Scotland was still independent from England until the political union of Scotland and England occurred in 1707 during the reign of Queen Anne, while Ireland wasn’t a true part of the kingdom until 1801.

Really abreviated Plantagenet history…

William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 and took the throne, but his direct line didn’t last long. He disinherited his eldest son in favor of his second son, William Rufus, who was shot during a hunting trip by one of his own buddies. That left England to the youngest son, Henry, who became king in 1100.

Though Henry I had upwards of thirty (!) illegitimate children, he had only two legitimate children by his queen: a son, William Adelin, and a daughter, Maude. He sent his daughter to Germany to marry the emperor and groomed his son as his successor. However, in 1120, William Adelin was killed in a shipwreck. Maude had lately been widowed, childless, so King Henry had her returned to England, married her off to a fourteen-year-old French noble she hated named Geoffrey Plantagenet, and set her up as his heir. Then he died.

Many of the English barons refused to recognize a woman as the next monarch, and Maude had to go to war with her cousin Stephen, who had seized the throne for himself. Though she and Geoffrey detested one another, they had three sons and he supported her in the war, probably mostly to insure his children’s inheritance. Finally Stephen recognized Maude and Geoffrey’s eldest son, Henry, as his heir and died in 1154.

The new King Henry II was the first Plantagenet king of England. He had already caused something of a sensation a few years earlier when he eloped with the beautiful and wealthy Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, the ex-queen of France. Their marriage was famously temptestuous – when they weren’t loving (and producing eight children) they were fighting (Henry would take a lover, Eleanor would spur their sons to rebellion in revenge, he’d lock her in a tower, and it’d snowball from there).

Anyway, a few generations later the last Plantagenet monarch, King Richard III, was killed on Bosworth Field in 1485 by the forces of his relative, Henry Tudor. He then became King Henry VII and married Richard’s niece, and they were the parents of King Henry VIII, of course. So the Plantagenets gave way to the Tudors, and when the Tudor’s petered out they were replaced by the Stuarts and eventually the Hannoverians, who had a name change during World War I and became Windsors.

Not exactly. Victoria was the last Hannoverian. Her descendants belonged to the house of her husband, Albert, which was called Saxe-Coburg-Gotha or Wettin. It was this house whose name was changed to Windsor.

Nichol Storm, though the house of York and the house of Lancaster are both descended from the house of Plantagenet they are ussually considered seperate houses. To further complicate things the monarchs Henry II and his two sons John Lackland and Richard Coeur de Lion are often considered a seperate house (the Angevins).

Hamsters ate this post before, so some of this may be out-of-thread-order.

Jodi supplies one historical view of the English Reformation (and very well, I might add). Here’s the other major view, courtesy of Jack Scarisbrick, Christopher Haigh et al…

Henry VIII never really left the Catholic church. Although he denied the authority of the Pope to administer religion in England, his theology remained perfectly orthodox. Any steps towards real Reformation remained hesitant during Henry VIII’s reign, and were restricted to the introduction of the Bible in English (which had long been a pet project of Henry even before the break with Rome) and the dissolution of the monasteries (due solely to Henry’s greed). In short, the Reformation was a political, not a religious, move on King Henry’s part.

Now, of course, some Protestant clerics, most notably of course Thomas Cranmer, did their best to enact a “real Reformation.” But they were mainly thwarted by King Henry and his powerful, religiously conservative, allies.

Many historians now believe that it was only by accident that England became a Protestant country by the end of the 16th century–the major accident being Mary Tudor’s untimely death. Well into Elizabeth’s reign, the majority of the English laity remained sympathetic to Catholicism. It took decades of the Prayer Book service, and decades of anti-Catholic propaganda, to win the hearts and minds of the average English layman.

The song Vicar of Bray very nicely sums up how most Englishmen dealt with the question of religion in that time.