“Was Henry's authority weak in the period from 1540 to 1547"
In the final decade of Henry's rein there was undoubtedly a decline in his authority. He had become seriously ill and after the death of Cromwell he has started to lose control over the faction fighting. However, it could be argued that Henry did not lose complete authority, he was just playing the factions off each other.
Throughout Henry's rein faction fighting was an on-going problem, and threatened to undermine Henry's power. The fall of Thomas Cromwell was the start in the decline of Henry's authority. Cromwell was able to control the faction fighting, after his fall political instability increased and there was a growth in the rivalry between the factions. The reformist faction led by Archbishop Cranmer and Edward Seymour wanted political and religious reforms, whereas the conservative faction led by the Duke of Norfolk and Stephan Gardiner wanted to retain Anglo-Catholicism rather than adopt a radical form of Protestantism.
As a result of Cromwell's fall, Henry lost control of the factions in his court. The power of the factions was mainly determined by the woman in Henry's life at the time. Due to Henry's Marriage to Catherine Howard between 1540 -1542 the conservative faction had the upper hand. She had been a key player in Norfolk's scheme to lure Henry away from Cromwell to ensure the rise of the conservative faction. However, the power of the conservatives was short lived as the fall of Catherine Howard was disastrous for Norfolk and the conservative faction.
In 1543 a very weak and ill Henry married his last wife, Catherine Parr. This marriage meant power for the reformist faction. Catherine Parr was a committed Protestant, this showed that the conservative faction were losing ground. Her presence and influence with the king gave the reformist faction a definite advantage. However, Henry had an opportunity to show the he was still in control and his authority was not weakened by...