Date of Award:

5-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Norman Jones

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Robert Mueller

Third Advisor:

Mark Damen

Abstract

King Henry VIII (1487-1547) famously severed ties with Roman Catholocism and nationalized the church in England in order to secure an annulment from his wife. His decision instigated the Henrician Reformation (1527-1547), a subset of the English Reformation. The king assumed the title 'Supreme Head of the English Church' and vested himself with the power to reform his country's church/ Occasional liturgies - the formal religious ceremonies surrounding birth, marriage, and death - were prime opportunities to publicly display new doctrines and procedures. Instead, these rituals changed surprisingly little and largely mirrored the pageantry performed by his parents.

Two conclusions are drawn from the results. First, the modern perception of Henry VIII as an all-powerful rebel is challenged due to his careful observance of the liturgy in order to achieve a desired outcome, whether it be a proper christening, wedding, or state funeral. Second, these royal rituals are shown to not only demonstrate religious beliefs, but also social and political realities as well. These two principles add complexity to understanding the course of the Henrician Reformation.

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