Act of Succession

Parliament passed the Act of Succession in 1534 making the yet unborn Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn, the true successor to the Crown by declaring Princess Mary, daughter of the King by Katherine of Aragon, a bastard.


Christendom refers to the religion itself, or to the worldwide community of Christians.

Dissolution of the Monasteries

Administrative and legal processes set by King Henry VIII which disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former members and functions.


An institutional act of religious censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or to restrict certain rights within it. Excommunication may involve banishment, shunning, and shaming, depending on the religion, the offense that caused excommunication, or the rules or norms of the religious community.

The Gospel Translation

During the reign of Henry VIII there was a movement within the Protestant leaders to translate the Gospels into English. This reformation was led by the writings of Martin Luther and Wililam Tyndale and the translations were revolutionary as it gave power to the people to communicate directly with God.

Great Seal of England

A seal that is used to symbolize the Sovereign’s approval of important documents. Sealing wax is melted in a mould or matrix and impressed into a wax figure that is attached to documents that the Monarch wishes to make official.

Groom of the Stool

The most intimate of an English monarch’s courtiers, whose physical intimacy led to him becoming a man in whom much confidence was placed. Under King Henry VIII, the title was given to court companions of the King who spent time with him in the Privy Chamber. The Groom of the Stool eventually acted as a personal secretary to the King, carrying out a variety of administrative tasks within his private rooms.


A heretic is an advocator of any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. During the thirty-eight years of Henry VIII’s reign, a great number of heretics were executed on grounds of political offenses such as treason for refusing to accept the king’s supremacy over the Church in England.

House of Commons

The House of Commons is the name of the elected lower house of the parliaments of the United Kingdom. The House of Commons of the Kingdom of England evolved from an undivided parliament to serve as the voice of the tax-paying subjects of the counties and of the boroughs.


Jousting is a martial game which emerged in the High Middle Ages, where two horsemen using lances aim to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed. The term joust meant “a meeting” and referred to arranged combat in general, not just the jousting with lances.

Martin Luther

A German friar, Catholic priest, professor of theology, seminal figure of the 16th-century movement in Christianity known later as the Protestant Reformation.

Master of the Rolls

The second most senior judge in England and Wales after the Lord Chief Justice. One of the most prominent people to hold this position was Thomas Cromwell.

Privy Chamber

The private apartment of a royal residence in England. The gentlemen of the Privy chamber served the Crown and would wait and attend on the King and Queen at court during their various activities, functions and entertainments. The Privy Chamber was properly established under Henry VIII as he wished to have his friends around. The gentlemen of the Chamber were usually very distinguished individuals and had much influence over the King.


Protestantism is the movement within Christianity, representing a split from the Roman Catholic Church, which occurred during the 16th century in Europe in what is called the Protestant Reformation.


The Protestant Reformation was the rift within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other early Protestant Reformers. It was a major 16th century European movement aimed to reform the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. When King Henry VIII divorced Katherine and married Anne Boleyn, he was excommunicated by the pope. Shortly after, Henry had Parliament pass an act appointing the king and his successors supreme head of the Church of England, thus establishing an independent national Anglican church.

The Tower of London

A fortress in London on the River Thames. It was built in 1078 and later extended and used as a palace, the main state prison and for executions of the nobility. Once sent to the Tower it was not a place that one expected to get out of alive. The alternative to the Tower was Tyburn where people were hung drawn and quartered (which nearly happened to Thomas More until King Henry VIII showed mercy).

Tudor Dynasty

The House of Tudor, a royal house of Welsh origin and a branch of the English royal House of Lancaster, ruled England from 1485 to 1603.

Henry VII, the first monarch in the Tudor dynasty, gained the throne when he defeated Richard III of the rival House of York at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, ending the 25-year Wars of the Roses.  He reunified the battle-weary English nation by marrying Elizabeth of York, symbolically uniting the former warring factions under a strong new dynasty.

Henry VIII was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth and came to the throne in 1509.  Henry VIII many wives’ difficulties in bearing a healthy male heir led to his fear for the young Tudor dynasty’s political future.  At his death in 1547, his fears were realized as his frail 9-year old son became King  Edward VI.  Edward died at the age of 16 and was subsequently succeeded by his two sisters Mary and Elizabeth I.

Both queens were to die without a direct heir and, at Elizabeth’s death in 1603, the Tudor line ended and was replaced by a branch of the family, the Scottish House of Stuart led by King James I.


A village in the county of Middlesex which took its name from the Tyburn Brook, a tributary of the River Westbourne. Many used Tyburn for public execution, including King Henry VIII.

William Tyndale

An English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible into English. Tyndale also wrote The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII’s divorce on the grounds that it contravened Scripture.

The Vatican

The chief residence of the Popes in Rome and the centre of all major decision making of the Church in Europe.