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 New Monarchies
If I had two heads, then one should be at the King of England’s disposal.
—Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan (c. 1521–1590), refusing to marry Henry VIII of England who had a wife beheaded
People have always craved power and struggled to possess it. The beliefs and actions of people in Europe who wielded power greatly influenced political institutions. Three major changes in the early modern period—approximately the 15th century through the 18th century—shaped political development:
• the shift from decentralized power spread among many groups and individuals to centralized power in which a small group held control
• the shift in influence from the landed nobility who had inherited their position to people with education, skills, and wealth
• the shift from law and justice dictated by religion to rules of law dictated by a secular system
State Power and Religion
In some places, leaders and religious groups used the religious changes of the Reformation to promote political unity. In others, such changes led to partisan turmoil and challenges to a leader’s authority.
Top-Down Religious Reform in England
In Central Europe, religious reforms started from the bottom up, with a variety of monks and preachers. Gradually, it spread to the upper reaches of society. However, in England, reform was top down. The king of England changed the religious practice of his subjects by edicts and laws.
Henry VIII Breaks with the Pope In 1509, Henry VIII assumed the throne of England. While he first supported the papacy and the Catholic Church, this came to an end in dramatic fashion.
In 1527, after more than 20 years of marriage, Henry VIII wanted to end his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. She was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and the aunt of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. During their marriage, Katherine gave birth to six children, but the only one who survived to adulthood was female, Mary Tudor.
 Essential Question: What were the causes and effects of the development of political institutions from 1450 to 1648?
Topic 1.5

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