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How Important Were Ministers Such as Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell to Henry Vii's Reign?

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Henry always considered himself orthodox or catholic in his religious beliefs and he wished the Church of England–which he had created by the Act of Supremacy in 1534–to remain so as well. He hoped to find a Via Media, or "Middle Way" between what he considered to be the extremes of both Roman Catholicism–with its popes and devotions to the Virgin Mary and the saints–and heretical Protestantism, which denied the truth of Transubstantiation and the validity of other sacraments and which tended to de-emphasize the importance or necessity of a rigidly hierarchical, ordained priesthood in the Christian Church. His religious persecutions were carried out in the name of that Via Media. Catholics were persecuted largely on the grounds of political subversion–as allegiance to the Papacy was seen not as a legitimate religious conviction, but rather as a political sentiment which led to the subversion of the new English regime, which sought absolute independence from all human powers outside its borders. Catholics were also persecuted on grounds of "superstition"–i.e. for praying to saints and to the Virgin Mary, and for believing in the holy power of relics. Protestants, on the other hand, were persecuted for denying several teachings that the Church of England upheld as fundamental to true religion. The king viewed Protestant beliefs as subversive not to the political order, but to the moral and spiritual order, and hence they were punished not for treason but for heresy, usually by burning at the stake.…...

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