University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
1. Did Henry VIII have the right to manage his marriages to his own advantage?
In my opinion, I do not think so. While it is understandable he needed a son to succeed him and to continue the Tudor name, he did not have the right manage his marriages for the sake of political expediency. It is also revealed in studies made on the history of the Tudors is that Henry VIII was notoriously licentious. His authority as king did not give him the right to change the rules.
At the time, England was Catholic and it turned to Rome for moral guidance and when Henry did not get annulment, he changed policy and subordinated the church of England under him and his successors and this was all because he could not have a son. Furthermore, he executed two of his wives and ironically, one of them, Anne Boleyn, produced his eventual successor, his daughter who would become Elizabeth I, one of England’s greatest monarchs.
2. Should a royal figure be held to a different moral code than his spouse and subjects? Why or why not?
No. Monarchs, regardless of their title, are still human. Their title and privileges do not make them infallible. They are also human and therefore prone to error. They should not hide behind their authority to justify their wrongdoings as what most of them did in history. They have to answer to someone and unfortunately, they cannot use God. This is the reason why the philosophers of the Enlightenment eschewed the Divine Right theory when they saw it being abused.
If monarchs believed they were ordained by God, how come their people hate them? If monarchs are considered beyond reproach, one needs to wonder why Louis XI was overthrown during the French Revolution or Charles I of England and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia were executed. These examples demonstrate that the Divine Right is passé and the reason why some monarchies cease to exist. Those that do exist are prudent enough to relinquish most of their power when they senses the changing times.