Iconoclasm in 16th Century Western Europe

by Heather R. Darsie, J.D. The sixteenth century saw massive changes in the spiritual and visual culture of Western Europe. In the first half the sixteenth century, government-sanctioned iconoclasms during the German and English Reformations changed not only how people worshipped, but also what they saw. In the second half of the sixteenth century, religious revolts in France and the Netherlands violently changed the religious … Continue reading Iconoclasm in 16th Century Western Europe

Martin Luther, Henry VIII, and the Papacy

by Heather R. Darsie, J.D. Most people familiar with Tudor history are aware that Henry VIII of England published in 1521 a tract defending the seven sacraments, which was a response to Martin Luther’s ideas being spread on the Continent. As a result, Pope Leo X awarded Henry the title of, “Fidei Defensor,” Defender of the Faith. The controversy between the two men did not … Continue reading Martin Luther, Henry VIII, and the Papacy

New Decade, New Bride: Henry VIII and Anna of Cleves

by Heather R. Darsie, J. D. Anna von der Mark, Hereditary Duchess of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, had been on English terra firma for about a week when she married her husband, Henry VIII of England. Henry was exactly twice Anna’s age, her being twenty-four and he, forty-eight. Perhaps the couple thought about celebrating their joint 28 June birthday together. According to the German account, Anna and Henry … Continue reading New Decade, New Bride: Henry VIII and Anna of Cleves

Anna of Cleves and Sankt Nikolaustag

by Heather R. Darsie 6 December is Sankt Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas’ Day. It is a Roman Catholic holiday that is still celebrated in parts of Germany. St. Nikolaus goes by other nicknames, such as Pelznickel, Belsnickel, and Niglo. Named after the Catholic St. Nicholas, patron saint of children and sailors, this holiday traditionally signifies the beginning of the gift-giving season. Children place their shoes … Continue reading Anna of Cleves and Sankt Nikolaustag

Happy Birthday, Anna of Cleves and Henry VIII!

by Heather R. Darsie On this day of 28 June in 1515, a little baby girl was born in the Holy Roman Empire whose life would be dramatically shaped by international politics. The baby was christened, “Anna,” after her paternal aunt. “Anna” was a family name on her maternal side, as well. Anna of Cleves’ great-grandmother through Maria of Juelich-Berg was Anna of Saxony. Anna … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Anna of Cleves and Henry VIII!

The Scandalous Marriage of Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther

by Heather R. Darsie On 13 June 1525, forty-one-year-old Martin Luther married twenty-six-year old Katharina von Bora. Katharina was given to the Church at a young age. By her early twenties, she and several other nuns in the Marienthron convent were familiar with Luther’s teachings and wished to practice them. They became fed up with religious life, and wanted to leave the convent. Katharina von … Continue reading The Scandalous Marriage of Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther

The First Cracks in Anna of Cleves’ Marriage to Henry VIII

By late February 1540, it was already obvious to Henry VIII that the political situation between Anna of Cleves brother, the young Duke Wilhelm, and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was serious. Most members of Anna’s German party who came with her across Imperial and French territory to England had left for the United Duchies of Juelich-Cleves-Berg. Henry faced the very real concern that his … Continue reading The First Cracks in Anna of Cleves’ Marriage to Henry VIII

Poor Relief in Reformation England, Germany, and the Netherlands

by Heather R. Darsie** Attempts at providing poor relief increased in the late 16th century. Some of the more overt changes happened in Elizabethan England, and in the Netherlands and Germany. This is in part due to religious changes.  In this essay, trends in charitable giving and social changes in poor relief due to the Reformation in England, Germany, and the Netherlands are explored. Poverty … Continue reading Poor Relief in Reformation England, Germany, and the Netherlands

When Henry Met Anna: The German Account

by Heather R. Darsie On 1 January 1540, Henry VIII surprised his new bride, Anna of Cleves. For centuries, it was believed that Henry VIII found Anna of Cleves ugly at worst and was not attracted to her at best. The main sources for this rumor were depositions specifically created for the annulment of their marriage. The depositions were taken in June and July 1540, … Continue reading When Henry Met Anna: The German Account