More Is Less Essay, Research Paper
With a quick look at one of the teen magazines on the rack reveals the present role of the monarchs in western society. Prince William is considered a star and is valued primarily for entertainment purposes. His ancestor, Edward III, would certainly be shocked, and would no doubt question the validity of referring to someone such as a future monarch in this fashion. *In the past, monarchs have not been viewed as sources of entertainment, but rather as rulers of the country. In contrast to today, monarchs have been rulers of their countries in which they rule the state, but never the church*1. As time went by, the monarchy grew more powerful, and after Henry VIII, king of England, established the Church of England, monarchs began to rule both the church and the state. As various monarchs have attempted to dominate over both the church and the state, they have not only been unsuccessful in their quests, but it has also led to the loss of government control. The evolution of the monarchy into the present state of figurehead has roots that can be traced through a complicated set of political interchanges between monarchs and their subjects as far back as the sixteenth century.
To discuss the evolution of the monarchy, a monarch must be viewed in the situation in which he/she only had control over the state. Edward IV, king of England, is a prime example of a monarch who had no power over the church. Edward IV married a commoner named Elizabeth Woodville. He had already been precontracted to a princess in France, however, and because he did not have the approval of the Pope *until after the marriage,*2 the validity of his marriage to Elizabeth was always questioned. Edward IV was completely powerless to make the decision, as the choice was left to the Pope. The Pope was considered to be a messenger sent from God, and any ruling he made was considered to be the correct and only ruling. No one questioned their declarations until the mid-1500s. If the Pope had told Edward IV he could not marry Elizabeth Woodville, it would not have mattered that they had married in front of a priest. Their marriage would be considered invalid, their children illegitimate, and he would have to choose a new bride. The power of the Pope changed when the church and the state were combined.
Henry VIII was the very first monarch to combine both the state and the church successfully. He united the church and state by declaring himself the head of the Church of England. This ordeal began with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who originally came to England as Henry’s brother, *Arthur’s bride.*3 After several months of marriage, Arthur died, leaving Catherine a widow. For several years Henry and Catherine were betrothed, until finally Henry’s father died and Henry succeeded to the throne. Almost immediately, Henry wanted to marry Catherine, so he obtained a special dispensation from the Pope which allowed him to marry her. Henry and Catherine were married for twenty-seven years, yet they had only had one child. Henry began to feel that his marriage was cursed, and began to doubt the common belief that the Pope was a messenger sent from God. He asked the Pope to reconsider what he had done, and grant him a divorce on the basis that, a)Catherine was not a virgin when she wed Henry, and b)a verse in the Bible stated that, “He that marrieth his brother’s wife doth an unlawful thing; he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness, they shall be without children.” (Leviticus 20:21) Henry truly believed that said verse was unconditionally true, and desperately wanted a divorce from Catherine. Moreover, there was another factor why Henry wanted the aforementioned divorce. He had found himself a new mistress, Anne Boleyn, who would have nothing but the crown. By the time the ruling had arrived, Henry had already become so impatient, that he had decided for himself the marriage was invalid. He also declared himself the head of the Church of England, and referred to the Pope *asars,* and finally sent a messenger who was, . . . directed by [Pope] Clement to deliver into [Henry's] hands an order to take Catherine back and separate from Anne – on pain of excommunication.” (pg. 343 The Autobiography of Henry VIII) While he declared himself the head of the Church of England, he referred to the Pope as the Cardinal in Rome. This major step in the break from Rome gave Henry more power. He also managed to combine what was then thought impossible, the church and the state.