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The University of Southampton

HIST3067 The Henrician Reformation 1509-47: Part 2

Module Overview

Henry VIII's break with Rome remains one of the most striking assertions of royal authority and national independence. In 1533 Henry repudiated the authority of the pope and secured his much-sought divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. These were crucially important years in English political and religious history.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- To explore the impact of Henry VIII’s break with Rome and subsequent religious changes, especially the dissolution of the monasteries. - To consider the extent and significance of opposition to the break with Rome in the early 1530s. - To consider the importance of the Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-37. - To examine the evolution of religious policy following the break with Rome. - To consider the relative roles of Henry VIII and political factions in high politics.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The political and religious events of the reign of Henry VIII from the break with Rome and the declaration of the king’s royal supremacy to the end of the reign.
  • Opposition to the break with Rome and to religious changes.
  • The Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-37.
  • The dissolution of the monasteries.
  • The printed sources available to historians of early Tudor England.
  • The recent historiography of the period.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Gather information, work out how useful that information is and synthesise it into clear and well-written reports.
  • Communicate effectively in group-discussions.
  • Identify and solve historical problems.
  • Display effective time-management in planning and completing all sorts of intellectual tasks.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse the relevance of a wide range of primary sources, appreciate the particular contexts in which those sources were produced and comment succinctly on their significance in a source-related assessed essay and in an examination in which answers will informed by a knowledge of sources.
  • Engage critically with the many books and articles on this period that have been written by other historians.
  • Structure a coherent written argument based on an engagement with the primary and secondary literature that relates to this particular period.
  • Express your opinions, knowledge and understanding in class discussions with your tutor and your fellow-students.
  • Display an awareness of the broader epistemological issues involved in studying history.


The second module carefully assesses opposition - both from individuals - Bishop John Fisher, Sir Thomas More, several friars and monks - and from people in general , especially those involved in the great northern rebellion, the Pilgrimage of Grace, in 1536-37. Throughout close attention is given to the current controversies over the role of Henry VIII and political factions: moments such as the fall of Anne Boleyn and of Thomas Cromwell are surveyed comprehensively. The course concludes with an examination of the religious changes that followed the break with Rome, notably the dissolution of the monasteries, the dismantling of pilgrimage shrines, and developments in doctrine and liturgy. Topics to be covered in the second semester of the course include: - Opposition to Henry VIII's divorce and the break with Rome: the nun of Kent Bishop Fisher, Thomas More, the Observant Franciscans, the Carthusians; Reginald Pole - Opposition to Henry VIII: the Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-7 - The dissolution of the monasteries - Henry VIII and political faction: the fall of Anne Boleyn; the fall of Thomas Cromwell - Religious policy after the break with Rome.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Weekly three-hour classes. Each week a general topic is divided up into half a dozen over-lapping sub-topics; sub-topics are allocated to students who prepare a brief report. (For example, the class on the dissolution of the monasteries is divided into (i) the condition of the monasteries; (ii) the dissolution of the smaller monasteries in 1536; (iii) the dissolution of the larger monasteries in 1538-40; (iv) financial motivations; (v) religious motivations; (vi) the consequences of the dissolution). - Individual consultation in person and by email about assessed work on the unit. - Tutor-led guidance on the sources, on the preparation of assessed essays and on the conventions used in the presentation of written work. Learning activities include: - Reading set texts (editions/summaries in print of original sixteenth-century documents, notably in the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII) and recommended secondary literature. - Preparation of brief reports on particular questions as directed for classes - Discussion in class of set topics; informal discussion possibly continuing beyond the formal teaching hours.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

E.W. Ives (2004). The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. 

G.W. Bernard (2000). Power and Politics in Tudor England. 

E. Duffy (1992). The Stripping of the Altars. 

A.G. Dickens (1989). The English Reformation. 

C. Haigh (1993). The English Reformations. 

General Resource. The basic source that students will be using is J.S. Brewer, J. Gairdner and R.H. Brodie, eds., Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII (21 vols. in 36, 1862 1932), supplemented by the Calendars of State Papers, Spanish for the imperial ambassador's letters. Another important source is Edward Hall, Chronicle (1809 edition).

J.J. Scarisbrick (1997). Henry VIII. 

J.J. Scarisbrick (1984). The Reformation and the English People. 

R.W. Hoyle (2001). The Pilgrimage of Grace. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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