Henry VIII of England - Wikipedia

Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was the King of England from 1509 until his death

About Henry VIII TUDOR (King of England) Six Wives …

In the 1630's, the policies of Charles I led to a sharp increase in anti-Catholicism in England. The main reasons for this increase in anti-Catholicism were Charles' promotion of a pro-Spanish foreign policy, his support of the so called "popish" religious reforms of Archbishop Laud, his marriage to Henrietta Marie, an ardent Catholic, who stridently promoted her religion at court, and his toleration of other court Catholics, including the first papal representative to be received in England since the Reformation. The growing prominence of court Catholicism in the 1630's combined with Charles' personal rule from 1629-40 had given rise to fears there was a plot to introduce popery and arbitrary government in England. These fears were one of the prime factors leading to the start of the Civil War in 1642. The anti-Catholicism building in the 1630's reached its peak in 1640-42, the years directly preceding the English Civil War. In this time period, five popish plots were discovered in London. Two were plots to kill the king and three were plots against Parliament. There is no evidence these popish plots of the early 1640's, unlike the real Catholic plots of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, had any historical basis to them.

Henry VIII is one of the most famous kings in English history. He was the second Tudor monarch and was well-known for having six wives. His break with the papacy in Rome established the Church of England and began the Reformation.

His Reign, Wives, and Military Battles

Another expression of anti-Catholicism in the 1670's can be seen in the growing market for anti-Catholic literature. The most influential book in the development of the English anti-Catholic tradition was John Foxe's The Acts and Monuments of the Christian Reformation, commonly known as The Book of Martyrs. This book, first published in 1563, became a best-seller with sales second only to the Bible. It was continually re-published in the Elizabethan era and throughout the seventeenth century. According to Foxe's thesis, there was a continuous struggle between the forces of true Christianity, represented by Protestantism, and the forces of the anti-Christ, represented by the Papacy in Rome. His thesis was used by later writers to develop an argument in which it became logical for the English to look for popish designs behind every crises or defeat in the country. Foxe's book was important because by linking anti-Catholic feelings with powerful feelings of nationalism, it ensured that anti-Catholicism was one of the predominant features of English nationalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

With this atmosphere in the coffeehouses and the rising intensity in anti-Catholicism in the 1670's, it is not surprising that the coffeehouses would become linked with the anti-Catholic, anti-French sentiments of the time. The majority of the coffeehouses supported the Whigs, the Parliamentary opposition party, as did a majority of the English people because of their fears of France. This is why one writer could say of his experience in a coffeehouse, " 'The air which I breathed provoked me to write prolifically against the Pope and the King of France.' " Throughout the 1670's, every political move was discussed, analyzed and applauded or vilified in the English coffeehouses. The large and broad clientele they attracted showed there was a very lively and sophisticated political culture in Restoration England. These coffeehouses played an important role in creating an articulate and politically aware English public, whose vocal expression of hostility to the unpopular pro-French, pro-Catholic government policies of the 1670's played a part in putting pressure on the government to change these policies.


Henry VI of England - Wikipedia

To begin the investigation of the events leading up to the outburst of anti-Catholicism during the Popish Plot, it is necessary to understand the long term anti-Catholic tradition in England, which began with the English Reformation. In 1533, Henry VIII's Parliament passed a law that repudiated any papal jurisdiction over the English Church and declared the king to be its sole head. The Reformation continued under Edward VI (1547-53), but under Mary I (1553-58), England reverted back to Catholicism. She is known by the epithet, "Bloody Mary" because of her cruel persecutions in which about 300 Protestants were burned at the stake for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. The memories of these persecutions engendered a deep hostility to Catholicism in England. On Elizabeth I's ascension to the throne in 1558, Protestantism was permanently re-established in England. Elizabeth's reputation as the Protestant savior assured her a prominent position in the English anti-Catholic tradition. In the later Elizabethan and early Stuart period, the best known examples of Catholic threats are the Catholic assassination plots against Elizabeth I in the 1570's and 1580's, the 1588 attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, in which a small group of Catholics conspired to blow up the king and members of Parliament. In Europe, during this time period, there was the Council of Blood (1567-73) instituted in Holland by the Duke of Alba and also the 1572 Saint Bartholmew's Day Massacre of French Protestants. To the English, these historical events provided graphic proof of the cruelty and intolerance of Catholics in power and served as a reminder of what would happen if Catholicism was ever restored in England.

Henry was the only child and heir of King Henry V

All of this changed when Henry made the fateful decision that only drastic action could extricate him from a marriage that, in the absence of a male heir, now threatened the future of his dynasty. In rapid succession from 1532, legislation was passed through Parliament curbing the influence of the papacy in England and appointing the King as Supreme Head of the Church. Once this and the divorce were achieved, the king moved to take control over much of the Church's property through the dissolution of the monasteries.

He was born on 6 December 1421 at Windsor Castle

The progress of the Reformation in England was closely bound up with Henry's personal affairs. His increasing desperation to secure release from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon forced him to contemplate radical steps that went very much against the grain of his own instinctive theological conservatism. In this respect the Reformation in England would follow a model much closer to that of Scandinavia than Germany or Switzerland. Although England, like Bohemia, had its own indigenous mediaeval heresy in Lollardy, Luther's attack on the church had initially produced little resonance in England. Luther's works were imported into England at an early stage, but this may very often have been for the convenience of conservative theologians who bought them to refute them, such as Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More.