Defending the ‘faith’: Henry VIII, the Pilgrimage of Grace, and the power of images by Oliver Markeson
The pamphlet Assertio Septem Sacramentorum [Defence of the Seven Sacraments], published in 1521, seeded the idea that Catholicism was not only under attack by the reformation, but that Henry played a powerful role in fighting the reformers. This article explores two artefacts, each symbolising the idea of defending the faith, yet sitting in deep tension with each other: the first, a painting featuring Latin scripture in the hands of Henry VIII; the second, a tapestry badge featuring the wounds of Christ. Both artefacts reveal defence of the faith to be an instrument of political persuasion, as well as an expression of religious ideology. This article uncovers fresh evidence to connect the painting to Henry’s meeting with Francis I in 1532, through whom he sought to influence the Pope, in a last-ditch act of diplomacy before finally breaking from Rome.