Anglo-American Culture, Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Henry, Mary and Elizabeth

 

Pre-reading vocabulary and phrases:

Protestant:

Heir:

Anglican:

Didn’t feel like ~ :

 

Until the 16th century, no woman had ever ruled England. By the end of the 16th century, three had become ruler and it all starts with King Henry VIII.

 

King Henry VIII really, really wanted a son. However, because his first wife kept having daughters, he wanted to divorce her and marry a young woman named Anne Boleyn. This caused a major problem because, in order to divorce his first wife, Henry needed to seek permission from the Pope and the Pope had not felt like cooperating.

 

Henry finally solved this problem by making a new religion, called the Anglican Church, of which Henry was master. This made England officially a protestant country, even though most of the citizens were Catholic. Henry eventually used his power in the Anglican Church to marry, execute and divorce several more women, one of whom had a son named Edward.

 

After Henry died, 14 year-old Edward became king and he launched the Protestant Reformation, which used force to convert the English people from Catholicism to Anglicanism. However, Edward became very sick and died only one year later and this caused a major political crisis in the country. Edward didn’t have any children and there were no other male heirs to the throne. This meant that, when he was dying, he would have to choose either one of Henry’s daughters, Elizabeth or Mary, or a female cousin named Jane Grey. Mary was the closest relation, but she was Catholic and Edward wanted to destroy Catholicism in England. Jane Grey was only 15 years old and didn’t want to be queen, but at least she was a protestant. He did not seriously consider Elizabeth, eventually choosing Jane Grey.

 

However, Jane Grey was only queen for nine days before Mary gathered the Catholic forces and took the crown. Mary tried to destroy Protestantism in England and restore Catholicism. She did this by marrying the King of Spain (a powerful Catholic) and by executing protestants. This earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” Mary and the King of Spain were unable to have a baby and, when Mary became sick, Elizabeth was the only person eligible to become ruler of England.

 

Elizabeth finally brought stability to the religion problem by saying, in effect, that the English government didn’t care what religion the people believed in. This was a key innovation at the time and highly unusual. In Spain, for example, there was the Inquisition to get rid of all non-Catholics. In the Americas, missionaries often used force to make the Indians change their religions, so Elizabeth was exceptionally liberal for the time.

 

Elizabeth was also unusual in that she did almost everything a “proper” woman of the time wasn’t supposed to do. She liked to debate. She would intimidate men who challenged her. She once rode a horse onto a battlefield in a suit of armor. She killed political enemies like the Queen of Scots. Elizabeth’s reign, for the first time in English history, challenged the role of women as passive, weak and dependent.

 

Please watch this documentary before answering the questions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37Tpbkt2FgU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study Questions:

Why do you think the pre-Elizabethan English kings and queens wanted to fight over religion?

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Why do you think Elizabeth decided not to marry?

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Many Western women see Elizabeth as an ideal woman. How does Elizabeth differ from your “ideal woman?” How does Mary differ from your “ideal woman?”

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Do Mary or Elizabeth remind you of any Korean rulers? If so, why?

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