Royal History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley

Reformation

Series 1 - Episode 1 Reformation

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Review

A historian tells Lucy Worsley: “If you’re looking for the origins of Brexit, look no further than Henry VIII.”

Parallels with Henry’s Reformation are inevitable as Worsley, in another series of jaunty debunking documentaries, examines the seismic upheaval wrought by Henry VIII’s break with Rome, and the wholesale rejection of Catholicism that saw the sacking of Britain’s monasteries in a campaign orchestrated by one of history’s great fixers (until he was executed on his boss’s orders), Sir Thomas Cromwell.

The idea of England standing alone against a foreign power came directly from Henry and Cromwell, though the Dissolution of the Monasteries, those supposed hotbeds of corruption and wealth, would rob countless ordinary people of the help and support these institutions once provided.

Worsley looks at the myths surrounding Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, who’s largely been presented as a “sexy Protestant pin-up” when she was a clever, learned young woman with radical religious ideas.

Summary

The historian examines how key moments in Britain's history have been manipulated and mythologised, beginning with a look at the founding myths of the Reformation. She argues that Henry VIII may have had deeper motives for bringing about a religious and political schism than his desire for a divorce, and in doing so, laid the foundations for our modern constitution and economic power as an empire. She also questions the monarch's supposed belief in Martin Luther's Protestant revolution.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Dr Lucy Worsley
Director Kate Misrahi
Executive Producer Chris Granlund
Producer Kate Misrahi
Documentary