During the age of absolutism, English monarchs, like rulers on the continent, tried to increase royal power and claim the divine right to rule. Their efforts, however, ran into the obstacle of Parliament, which during the Middle Ages had acquired the power of the purse. Only Parliament could grant monarchs the funds they needed to pursue their ambitions. And Parliament at times stood firm against royal absolutism.
Henry VIII consulted with Parliament frequently. Here, he presides as chairman over the House of Lords.
From 1485 to 1603, England was ruled by Tudor monarchs. Although the Tudors believed in divine right, they shrewdly recognized the value of good relations with Parliament. When Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church, he turned to Parliament to legalize his actions. Parliament approved the Act of Supremacy, making the monarch head of the Church of England.
A constant need for money led Henry to consult Parliament frequently. Although he had inherited a bulging treasury, he quickly used up his funds fighting overseas wars. To levy new taxes, the king had to seek the approval of Parliament. Members of Parliament tended to vote as Henry's agents instructed. Still, they became accustomed to being consulted on important matters.