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The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707$
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Jacqueline Rose

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266038

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266038.001.0001

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Councils, Counsel and Consensus in Henry VIII’s Reformation

Councils, Counsel and Consensus in Henry VIII’s Reformation

(p.135) 7 Councils, Counsel and Consensus in Henry VIII’s Reformation
The Politics of Counsel in England and Scotland, 1286-1707

Richard Rex

British Academy

Henry VIII knew that a true Christian prince sought and considered counsel and weighed it in his conscience before acting. Council and counsel were therefore highly important to him in the crisis over his divorce and the royal supremacy. The discarding of his first great minister, Thomas Wolsey, led to an overt revival of conciliar activity in the early 1530s. This chapter argues that Henry used such structures of counsel, including what looks very like a traditional ‘great council’, less to seek advice than to build consensus around his chosen policies. Counsel as such seems to have been received by him in less formal and inevitably less well-documented contexts, evidence for which is used in this chapter to show not only how the conciliar process might work, but also how the ideal of honest and freely spoken counsel was strained by Henry’s increasing determination to have his own way.

Keywords:   council, counsel, consensus, Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Elyot, Stephen Gardiner, Thomas Wolsey, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII

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