The Crown and the Bible
King Henry VIII is surely best known today for his six wives, two of whom he had beheaded. In the age of monarchy, those marriages—and the three very different children they produced—shaped the world in which the first printed English Bibles were created.
The long-drawn-out end of Henry’s first marriage led in the 1530s to a break between England and the Roman Catholic Church, effectively establishing the modern Church of England.
Further Protestant reforms took place under Henry’s young son Edward VI, followed by a sudden restoration of the Roman Catholic Church under Henry’s older daughter, Mary I. After Mary’s death, her half-sister Elizabeth I re-established the Church of England as Protestant, then added some much-needed stability simply by remaining queen for 44 years.
Once Henry’s great-great-nephew James became king of England, he made few changes to the national faith. Instead, he encouraged one of its great cultural achievements—the King James Bible of 1611.
Watch the Crown and the Bible video for more insights into the impact of English rulers on Bible translation.