Henry VIII & the Reformation Parliament

W. W. Norton & Co. | Now Available | ISBN 978-0-393-93729-9

Henry VIII and the Reformation Parliament transforms students into lords and commoners and members of the English Parliament during the tumultuous years 1529-1536.  Cardinal Wolsey has just been dismissed as Lord Chancellor for failing to obtain an annulment of King Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.  Thomas More, the humanist author of Utopia, is named as Wolsey’s replacement.  More presides over Parliament, which the king hopes will somehow find the means to invalidate his marriage, thus freeing him to marry his new love, Lady Anne Boleyn.  Matters of state also apply, for Henry has no male heir to carry on the Tudor line, and Queen Catherine has passed her child-bearing years.  But will Parliament be content with solving the king’s marital and dynastic problems?  For there are some in Parliament who wish to use the royal divorce to disempower the English church, to sever its ties to papal Rome, and to change it doctrinally from Catholicism to Lutheranism.  Others are against the divorce, against supremacy and independence, and against this heretical creed filtering in from the continent.  More is their leader, for as long as he can survive.  Thomas Cromwell, reputed a Machiavellian, leads the king’s party.  The king himself is ambivalent about the reformation unleashed by his “great matter,” as the divorce campaign is called, and so the conservatives are free to prosecute reformers as heretics, while the reformers are free to prosecute conservatives as traitors.  Meanwhile, outside of England there sits the greatest power in all of Europe, the Holy Roman Empire under King Charles V of Spain—who just happens to be the nephew of Catherine!  How will the emperor respond to this effort to put aside his aunt?  At issue is the clash of four contending ideas:  traditionalist Christianity, reformist Protestantism, Renaissance humanism, and Machiavellian statecraft.  Depending on the outcome of this contest, the modern, secular nation-state will, or will not, be born.

About the Author:

J. Patrick Coby is Professor of Government at Smith College where he teaches courses in political theory. He is author of several books including Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment:  A Commentary on Plato’s Protagoras, and Machiavelli’s Romans:  Liberty and Greatness in the Discourses on Livy; and of over eighty articles and reviews.

Companion Texts (Required):

J. Patrick Coby, Thomas Cromwell: Machiavellian Statecraft and the English Reformation
© 2009 | Lexington Books | ISBN-10: 0739134043

Erasmus, The Education of a Christian Prince
© 1997 | Cambridge University Press | ISBN-10: 0521588111