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The Reformation: The End of the Tudor Dynasty

Two years later, Anne was already gone from Henry’s heart. Henry had quickly grown tired of her demands, temper, and tantrums, often contrasting her roughness with Catherine’s gentleness. When Catherine died on January 7, 1536, Henry ordered the court to go into mourning. Anne, who had delivered a stillborn child that very day, refused. Henry began to plan another divorce, or, as he put it, an annulment. Henry believed that his marriage to Anne had been induced by witchcraft, and therefore invalid. He accused her of adultery with five members of the court, including her brother, and apparently he sincerely believed her guilt. On May 2, 1536, Anne was sent to the Tower. All six accused were found guilty, and on May 19, Anne was beheaded.

Eleven days later, Henry again remarried, this time to one of Anne’s maids, Jane Seymour. Jane led Henry to reconcile with his daughter Mary, and she reclaimed the title of Princess. However, on June 8, Parliament drew up a revised Act of Succession at the King’s insistence, this time declaring both Mary and Elizabeth bastards, and naming Jane’s future children as heir to the throne. The country rejoiced when, on October 12, 1537, Jane gave birth to Henry’s first (legitimate) son, the future Edward VI. Jane died twelve days later.

At Henry’s death in 1547, Edward VI took the throne until he died of sickness at age fifteen. He followed in his father’s footsteps, though not quite as excitedly, of Protestantism. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer took the opportunity to write several Prayer Books, which were soon installed in every church. Edward’s half-sister Mary, a staunch Catholic, then took over. She earned the name “Bloody” Mary by putting to death over 300 Protestant in the last four years of her reign. However, this holocaust only strengthened the Protestant martyrs and drew sympathy from the Catholics, who were ashamed of how the Queen was treating her victims. On November 17, 1558, Mary died of a plague, passing on the throne to Elizabeth. Elizabeth, a Protestant like her father, would go on to strengthen this new religion, during the “Golden Reign” of England.

A New Church

History of England