RORY: Henry VIII started a new church when the old one wouldn’t allow divorce.
PARIS: He also cut off his wife’s head. Is he still your role model?
King Henry VIII, the father of Elizabeth I, and earlier mentioned. He initiated the English Reformation, which separated the Church of England from the pope’s authority. Rory isn’t quite right that he started a new church – the Church of England already existed, but was originally under Rome – but she is generally correct about the reason.
Henry VIII tried to have his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, annulled by the pope, and when that didn’t work he took control of the church himself to annul his own marriage. It wasn’t technically a divorce – their marriage was declared null and void in 1533, and from then on Catherine was regarded as the widow of Henry’s older brother Arthur, her first husband.
His second wife was Anne Boleyn (c1509-1536), who was the mother of Elizabeth I. They were married in 1532, and he had her executed by beheading in 1536. She was charged with treason, adultery, and incest, but the evidence against her was unconvincing. Her main “crime” was probably failing to produce a son, as apart from Elizabeth, her other pregnancies ended in miscarriage.