Essay about How far do you agree that the last decade of Henry VIII's rule witnessed a decline in royal power?

Submitted By sumi2174
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How far do you agree that the last decade of Henry’s rule witnessed a decline in royal power?

Power, in this circumstance, can be defined as having and maintaining a stable and consistent control over a country with the support of both, figures integral to the administration of government as well as the common people who make up the majority of a country. Power means being able to work together with these people whilst simultaneously representing yourself as a figure who can protect the country and is competent in the happenings of government. During the final decade of Henry VIII’s rule there was an exponential decrease in royal power as a result of the increasing presence of faction as Henry’s health withered; more precisely during his final year when faction became the most prominent feature of government in appropriating royal power.
The factional dispute between the Reformists and the Conservatives posed problems for Henry during his final decade in power as tensions increased. The fall of Cromwell in 1540 was a key turning point in terms of royal power. Cromwell was one of Henry’s most effective counsellors and had previously increased royal power through the changes he made in government. Henry deeply regretted his death as Cromwell was obedient and loyal to him as suggested by Elton who says that Cromwell’s notes insinuate that the King’s wants and needs were always Cromwell’s top priority. Cromwell’s execution could be used as evidence to suggest that Henry was not in complete power at the time and was merely a puppet of the Duke of Norfolk who ultimately had the power to rid himself of his reformist opponent. This happened during the early stages of Henry’s final decade in rule but as time went on it could be argued that Henry’s royal power increased slowly over a period of 3 years as he manipulated faction during the plots against Thomas Cranmer and Catherine Parr in 1543 and 1546. Eric Ives argues that ‘Henry was a powerful personality to whom faction was of source of strength, allowing him to play one group against another’ implying that Henry cleverly used factional disputes to increase his royal power and attain the best service out of both sides showing that he was competent in what he was doing and had stable control over the figures of his government. However this supposed burst in royal power rapidly decreased during Henry’s final year as king. His health deteriorated which ultimately meant he had lost power as he was no longer able to physically attend the proceedings of government. He spent an increasing amount of time in the Privy Chamber where Anthony Denny, Chief Gentlemen and a reformist, dominated. As a result of Denny’s bias, he could control what information reached the king’s ears and who had access to the king. Subsequently, Stephen Gardiner, a disgraced Conservative, spent Henry’s final year sulking outside the outer chambers as he could not access Henry and beg for his forgiveness. In this final year due to his physical inabilities Henry was no longer a protective figure for his country and was not aware of anything happening in government which I believe means that he had lost power completely. To exacerbate this steep decrease in Henry’s royal power, Denny had control of the Dry Stamp which was effectively Henry’s signature which he used to change Henry’s will in order for his faction to gain a giant advantage and effectively purloin Henry’s power. In order to change Henrys’ will, Denny and the reformists of the Privy Chamber kept Henrys’ death a secret for 3 days which shows the great extent to which Henry’s power had been overtaken by faction. On one hand Henry, through his own intelligence and personality, was able to utilise faction to increase his royal power through manipulation and keeping each side in balance but ultimately this was short-lived as over time in his final year, faction completely exploited Henry of his power as his health declined to the great extent that Henry’s