King Henry VIIIThe third major reformer was the English monarch, Henry VIII. Henry was originally given the title Fideo Difensor (Latin for Defender of the Faith) by Pope Leo X for his treatise in refutation of Luther. The British monarch retains the title to this day, although Henry himself was excommunicated in 1533. 
The actual break between Henry and the Roman church took place for a very down to earth reason: Henry wanted another wife! His first wife, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536), was unable to bear him a son twenty years of marriage. Henry, eager to acquire a son, wanted a divorce. The pope, Clement VII (in office 1523-1534) refused to approve the divorce; not on religious grounds, but for political reasons. Rome, at that time was under the control of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V (1500-1558), who was Catherine's nephew. The pope, unable to act with impunity either way, tried to delay matters and even suggested bigamy to Henry as a compromise! But, Henry, growing impatient by the delays, overthrew papal jurisdiction over the churches in England. He thus made possible his own divorce and remarriage. The split from Rome also enabled him to confiscate large amount of church property in England.  The "Act of Supremacy" in 1534 made him, as king, the supreme head of the English church.
Even before his break with the Roman church, Henry was already notorious for his sexual exploits. At 25, already married to Catherine for seven years, he had an affair with one of the Queen's ladies in waiting. She was the seventeen year old Elizabeth Blount. She bore Henry a son, named Henry Fitzroy; but this boy died before his twentieth birthday.
His second wife was Anne Boleyn (1507-1536) was also originally one of Catherine's ladies in waiting. But the English people could not accept Anne as their queen, for their loyalty remained with Catherine. Henry's solution to this lack of public support was simple: anyone who opposed his marriage to Anne was tortured and burned, drowned or boiled to death. But Anne, like Catherine was unable to bear him a son. Henry's solution was to have Anne and five other men executed on concocted charges of adultery and incest. Anne was beheaded in 1536. 
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