George Bernard

George Bernard whose books include The Power of the Early Tudor Nobility, teaches history at the University of Southampton.

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Henry VIII’s jurisidictional quarrel with the Papacy was not resolved, and its consequences are with us still. In Henry’s eyes the dispute was one of authority, not doctrine, but doctrinal questions soon became involved. His quarrel coincided with religious ferment on the Continent and with the emergence of religious diversity in England, as the religious teachings of Luther and Zwingli spread in the late 1520s and early 1530s. But for the divorce, Henry would no doubt have continued to stand firm against heresy, and he might well have been successful. But once he had broken with Rome and asserted his royal supremacy over the Church, he relaxed his persecution of dissent. He needed his royal supremacy preached up and down the land. And who better to preach it than Thomas Cranmer or Hugh Latimer, full of Continental learning, opposed to Papal pretensions, and keen to see Henry as a godly prince who would destroy idolatry and embrace true religion. Henry had not intended to go so far along that road of reformation, but he had unleashed a process that proved lasting.

In discussing Thomas Mayer’s Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal (LRB, 10 May), Blair Worden endorses Mayer’s claim that Starkey’s Dialogue between Pole and Lupset was a ‘reform programme to be taken seriously as a plan to rehabilitate the high nobility and to restore it to its proper place at the head of the English commonwealth.’ Such an interpretation takes as fact the highly questionable...

Sidney’s Kidney

24 November 1988

In commenting sceptically on the legends surrounding the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Blair Worden (LRB, 24 November 1988) nonetheless lends credence to another legend when he writes of ‘the tradition of aristocratic protest which, over the previous three centuries, had opposed the rise of the Renaissance and Baroque monarchies’. In adopting such a view, he is placing too much weight on the political...

Grooms of the Stool

7 August 1986

SIR: In his review of David Starkey’s The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics (LRB, 7 August), Professor Conrad Russell persuasively emphasises the role of the court, broadly defined, involving king, queen, mistresses, counsellors, favourites, officials, as the arena in which important political decisions were made. It was here that Henry VIII found Anne Boleyn, here that the break with...

A Very Active Captain: Henricentrism

Patrick Collinson, 22 June 2006

Henry VIII is the most immediately recognisable of all English monarchs, present company excepted. He has been declared a national icon, and we are told that he vies with Adolf Hitler for the...

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Types of Ambiguity

Conrad Russell, 22 January 1987

The Church shall not so expound one place of Scripture that it shall be repugnant to another. Of all the Thirty-Nine Articles, this is perhaps the most difficult, yet it lays down a scholarly...

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