Henry VIII,the Reign
A Henry–Johnite / Henri–Jeanite Definition
The Henry–Johnites ancestry originated in the Welsh Marches, descendants of the first Marcher Lords, those appointed by William the Conquer to create a frontier territory between England and the hostile anti-Norman Welsh.
Because he provided the first line of defence, a Marcher Lord – there were as many as forty lordships created – had royal rights within his domain; all justice was administered by the lord in his own name and his exceptional local power granted him the right to wage war.
Scores of castles were built as the first Normans consolidated their power. Principal cities surrounded the fortifications at Gloucester, Hereford and Cardiff.
The death of King Henry I’s heir, William Adelin, in the White Ship tragedy caused a civil war. Henry’s daughter Matilda allied with his illegitimate son Robert of Gloucester and both fought against another of the Conqueror’s grandchildren, Stephen of Blois, for the crown of England.
The port city of Bristol, guardian of Avalon and of the legend of Joseph of Arimathea, became the western capital of England. The castle was the stronghold of Robert of Gloucester and Matilda, an area of the kingdom that expanded east towards Winchester. The forefathers of the Henry–Johnites fostered a hereditary Marcher zeal for autonomy. This fledgling anglicising fervour resisted external interference in their affairs and embodied a defiance of clerical interference in secular matters, a rejection of papal authority and an aversion to Francophile Normans, one of whom was Stephen of Blois.
The Anarchy, the savage nineteen-year, east–west civil war, ‘when Christ and his saints slept’, inflicted injuries that could not be healed. The wounds flared in Henry II’s conflict with Archbishop Thomas Becket, and again in King John’s fight with Pope Innocent and his war with Dauphin of France Louis the Lion.
Over the following years, the Henry–Johnites emerged and anti-clerical, anti-French fervour intensified. The Fosse Way linked the Marcher Lords with their comrades around and about Sherwood Forrest, the shadows of Newark Castle and the shelter of Rockingham Forrest. This fervour reached a peak in the reign of Richard II, advanced by Lollard adherents, such as John Wycliffe, John of Gaunt and Geoffrey Chaucer, the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French, which he rejected.
The guile of Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury and de facto ruler of England silenced the dissenters and so the Henry–Johnites became a latent power, hibernating in the castellated lands of the Welsh Marches, in Bristol and in Avalon for the next hundred years.
Then, in the reign of Henry VIII came another archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the overbearing cleric, a megalomaniac who demanded to be pope. This over-mighty prince of the church was a Henry–Johnite’s nemesis; to them he was the embodiment of the anti-Christ, and so in the west of England they began to stir.
But there was more alarm to follow. If Wolsey was their nemesis, their antithesis was the wholly French Anne de Boulogne, who wished to be their queen. Her emergence shook the Henry–Johnites from their latency and inspired them to a venomous, vengeance-seeking reawakening.
In the reign of Henry VIII, the Henry–Johnites seized control of England.