Jeffrey Blake Jordan
Instructor: Rose Nixon
17 March 2008
His Importance to the Renaissance Era
“Go with me, like good angels, to my end; And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me, make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice, and lift my soul to heaven,” - Henry VIII. The reign of Henry VIII is one of the most intriguing in English history. Not only was it a time of revolutionary political and social change, it was also dominated by one of the most extraordinary and charismatic men to emerge in the history of the British Isles. The King’s contemporaries thought him “the greatest man in the world” and “such a king as never before.” (Weir 1) Henry the VIII played a key role during the Renaissance period not only as a fascinating ruler of England, but also through instilling the repressive Sumptuary Laws, becoming the main force to push the reformation of Catholic England to Protestant England, and fathering one of the greatest monarchs of all time.
In the midst of Henry VIII’s rein the strict social structure of the Renaissance was challenged. For ages there were only the rich and the poor but now a rising middle class was threatening to overthrow the supreme upper class. Prevailing among those threatening the social hierarchy were successful merchants (Nixon). Merchants often gained enough wealth to not only afford elaborate clothes, but also to increase their social standings enough to break the barrier between the gilded lily and the peasant. In Renaissance times the way a person dressed defined who they were; their place was written in stone (Nixon). It is understandable why the ornate apparel usually adorned by the upper class now dressing those of the lower class created such pandemonium. How could the distinction be made between those of nobility and those of lower class if their attire was so similar? In response to the challenge towards the social hierarchy, Henry VIII passed several laws that would...