Mara R. Berkoff, (Dyson College of Arts and Sciences)
Honors College Theses, Pace University, 103, May (2012)
The ideas I wish to explore in this paper are the overarching themes of politics, religion, and marriage in the Tudor period under the rule of King Henry VIII from 1509 to 1547. By exploring the motives behind the Protestant Reformation and the laws of both marriage and faith held by Henry VIII, the cultural instability he created can be traced directly back to his marital choices. The popular opinion of the period on Henry VIII’s behavior can be seen in William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure, and Henry VIII . Though written a generation later, all three plays present intriguing parallels to the scandalous Tudor court, and suggest a need for a resistance to marital hierarchy, which continues into the modern age with the breakdown of the social and gender hierarchies.
Marriage in the 21st century is taken for granted as a private event, where a Tudor marriage was cause either for worldwide celebration or anxiety, depending on the alliances made or destroyed by the spousal union. The evidence of Tudor life left behind in letters, manuscripts, and law gives fascinating insight into the machinations and intrigues that often conspired to make a marriage, and the religious and marital revolutions of this period changed the face of love, marriage, and religion in western culture forever.