Why did Henry VIII break from Rome?

Henry VIII is probably England’s most famous monarch of all time. Not only did he marry six different women throughout his reign, he also began the process of changing the Church system in England. What changes did Henry make to the Church, and why did he make this change?

You can download the worksheet for today’s lesson here. If you are unable to download the worksheet please complete the tasks in the yellow boxes below.

Rome = The capital city of modern Italy. It is also the capital of the Catholic world as it is the home of the Pope, the most holy person to Catholics.
Reformation = The process of changing the Church. This happened throughout Europe in the 1500s.

In the last lesson we began to look at the key differences between Catholics and Protestants. Can you name three similarities and three differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. An example has been done for you below.

TASK ONE: Why did Henry ‘break from Rome’?

Henry VIII was the first monarch in England to question the way the Church worked in England. In 1533, Henry decided to ‘break from Rome’ and start his own Church of England that was separate to the Church run by the Pope. But why did Henry want to do this?

Watch the Horrible Histories video below and bullet point the reasons Henry decided to break from Rome.
Do you know of any other reasons why Henry created his own Church? Bullet point these ideas too.

TASK TWO: Why did Henry ‘break from Rome’?

Look at the table below – it outlines all the reasons Henry decided to break from Rome and start his own Church of England.

For each factor, decide if it was a political, religious or economic reason. Explain why. An example has been done for you in the first box.

Political reason = anything that relates to Henry wanting more power for himself or for his family.

Religious reason = anything that relates to any criticisms of Catholicism as a religion.

Economic reason = anything that relates to money.

CHALLENGE: Do you think any of the factors relate to more than one reason. E.g., do any factors relate to both political and economic reasons, for example?

TASK THREE: What was the most important reason for Henry wanting to break from Rome?

So why did Henry really break from Rome? Do you believe it was for political, religious or economic reasons? Write your answer using the structure below:


1) Have a clear point/argument: This should be a single sentence. Are you going to say it was because of political reasons/economic reasons/religious reasons?

2) Have detailed evidence: Use evidence from 2 blocks from the table above that match your argument to help you explain why Henry broke from Rome.

3) Explain why this evidence is the most important: Use connectives (e.g. This shows, Therefore) to explain why this shows the reason you chose is the most important.

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