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His new love affair plus Catherine’s miscarriages made him want to divorce her. The pope was Henry’s only choice to seek help as he was the one who could allow the divorce. But the pope delayed it as he was playing politics. Henry became furious and in his agitation he initiated the parliamentary legislation. His aim was to disavow the papal authority and he achieved his goal as a council of English churchmen allowed Henry to divorce Catherine. He married Anne Boleyn immediately.
The context might seem just a fairy tale where a king in the pursuit of his lust and in his machismo divorced his wife and married his newfound love. However, the repercussions in Europe are much broader than that. The incident made people question the Catholic Church’s authority, their hierarchy and their general rule of governing the government. Henry wasn’t the only one frustrated with the Church’s power; many people with religious background also questioned the church’s authority. The English Act of Supremacy also fueled the protestant movement throughout Europe as the main source of the power, the king, was repudiating the Catholic authority.
The repercussions in Europe were very strong; the monarchy broke with Rome and Henry became the supreme authority of the Anglican Church. It also fueled the fire to the conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics.
The ripples of the act did not remain confined within England. Many European countries saw an opportunity to overthrow the autonomous power of the Catholic Church. Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) was one of the greatest scholars of northern European Renaissance. He felt repulsed by the Church’s abuse of its power. Along with many famous people of his time, he did not appreciate older beliefs that were now seen mainly as outdated. He considered such limiting belief systems worthy to be thrown out especially in the wake of awareness such as universal education and the invention of the printing
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