Henry VIII had a nasty habit of getting embroiled in European conflicts. In the early 1520s his alliance with Charles, Holy Roman Emperor involved Henry in yet another continental imbroglio. Charles declared war on France, and Henry followed suit.

To wage a war requires money; lots of money, and Henry needed plenty to pay for his latest military project. He turned to his advisor, Cardinal Wolsey. In 1525 Wolsey ordered the implementation of 'Amicable Grant', in theory, a freely given gift from his subjects to the king, but in practice, a heavy tax, levied without Parliamentary approval. It is perhaps ironic that the Grant was termed 'Amicable', implying a sort of friendly largess on the part of Henry's subjects, when in fact it was unwelcome and burdensome, and evoked heavy resistance.

According to the terms of the Amicable Grant, a tax of up to 1/6 was levied on secular goods, and up to 1/3 on ecclesiastical possessions. Such a large tax was bound to stir up considerable opposition, and so it proved. Violence flared in East Anglia, where the cloth-workers strenuously objected to the Grant. Perhaps more importantly, the citizens of London refused to pay. They claimed that under terms of a 1484 statute, all benevolences (gifts of money to the crown) were banned.

In the face of the opposition, Henry VIII did an abrupt about-turn. He ordered the collection of the grant monies to cease, and claimed that they had been levied without his permission or approval. Technically, this may have been true, as it was Cardinal Wolsey who proclaimed the Grant, but it is very unlikely indeed that Wolsey's actions took place without Henry's knowledge and tacit approval.

The failure of the Amicable Grant was one of the first events that led eventually to Wolsey's fall from power.

Henry VIII
Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth

Tudor Britain - from 'A History of the British Nation' (1912)
Tudor attractions in Britain (places to see tagged with 'Tudor')