Henry VIII’s Bishops: Diplomats, Administrators, Scholars and Shepherds

By Andrew Allan Chibi

A comprehensive prosopographical study of diverse and interesting group of bishops who served during the reign of Henry VIII.

ISBN: 9780227679760


In this comprehensive work, which follows the lives of the sixty-nine bishops who served under Henry VIII, Dr Chibi not only asks why the Henrician bishops have acquired such a poor historical reputation, but also examines the deep impact which these men exerted upon the monarch’s reign.

Henry VIII’s bishops were both a diverse and interesting group of individuals who had a profound influence on both king and country in the early modern period. They came from all social rankings, were highly educated and had become bishops through talent and ambition, and yet their historical reputation remains unflattering. This study, set within the dual context of court and diocese, breaks new ground in presenting the Henricians as a microcosm of wider society and as the fulfilment of that period’s expectations of a bishop.

The book is both an extensive examination of the careers, lives and thinking of an elite ecclesiastical force and a comprehensive review of the background to the early English Reformation. The focus is very much on those men who were caught between church and state, court and country and spirituality and temporality. Dr Chibi takes an in-depth look behind the scenes of Henrician England’s religious, social and political turmoil to see the workings of a group of men dedicated to stability and truth; men who were caught between service to the king and service to God.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 356

Trade Information JGEN

About the Author

Andrew A. Chibi was born in 1963 in London, Ontario and his continuing education has taken him from the universities of Windsor and Toronto, to Sheffield and the wider world of British academia, whereby he has taught Reformation Studies and Tudor history at the universities of Southampton, Derby, Manchester Metropolitan and Trinity and All Saints College (Leeds). He is currently to be found lecturing and tutoring at the University of Leicester.

He is also the author of: Henry VIII’s Conservative Scholar: Bishop John Stokesley, Divorce, Royal Supremacy and Doctrinal Reform and The European Reformation. He also has two forthcoming works: A Study of the English Reformation and A Comparative Study of the History and Development of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.



Introduction: Who were Henry VIII’s Bishops?

Chapter 1: The Legacy of Henry VII, c.1490-1515
1. The king’s good servants
2. God’s Servants in the Country

Chapter 2: The Wolsey Era, c.1512-1530
1. The problem of testamentary jurisdiction
2. Repercussions of the Hunne case
3. The changing role of the bishops
4. Much needed clerical reform
5. The anti-heresy campaigns of the 1520s
6. The end of the Wolsey era

Chapter 3: The End of the Medieval Church, c.1527-1534
1. The king’s ‘Great Matter’ and the rise of the bishop-theologian
2. Further matrimonial problems
3. The king’s authority recognized
     a. Impact on diocesan matters

Chapter 4: The King’s Church, c.1534-1547
1. Removing the impediment of papal authority
2. The affirmation of royal spiritual power
3. The abandonment of conciliarism
4. The meaning of royal supremacy
5. The role of the bishops’ in the king’s church
     a. The metropolitan visitation of 1534
     b. The royal visitation of 1535
     c. Specific reformation issues
6. The problems of spiritual disunity
7. Flirtations with Lutheranism
     a. The Ten Articles, 1536
     b. The Bishops’ Book, 1537
     c. The Thirteen Articles, 1538
     d. The Act of Six Articles, 1539
8. The final years of the reign
     a. The Seventeen Questions, 1540
     b. The King’s Book, 1543
     c. The last few Episcopal appointments

Conclusion: Henry VIII’s Bishops

Appendix: Biographical Information
List of Works Cited


Endorsements and Reviews

Chibi’s well-documented study demonstrates that the church in England during its tumultuous transformation to the Church of England remained well served spiritually and administratively by its bishops.
Ronald H. Fritze, in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol 36, No 2