One man’s desire for a male heir, to continue the House of Tudor, tore Christian England apart. A faith that had existed for years; the Roman Catholic Church, with the Pope as its leader, witnessed the creation of Protestant Christianity, with King Henry VIII, as head of the Church of England.
On the 11th June 1509, Henry married his brother’s widow; Catherine of Aragon in the Friary Church in Greenwich. Henry claimed, they married as a deathbed wish of his father, but in reality he wanted an alliance with Catherine’s father; Ferdinand of Aragon.
Catherine gave birth to six children in all, yet only one would survive into adulthood; On the 18th February 1516, Catherine gave birth to a healthy daughter, and she was baptized Mary. It was at this point, Henry started believing that God was taunting him, for marrying his brother’s wife. In 1524, Henry ceased sleeping with his 39–year-old wife; Catherine of Aragon, for she had not produced a male heir.
In 1526, Henry pursued Anne Boleyn, daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, displaying his courtly loves to her.
In 1527, this was the start of his annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, claiming it was invalid according to the scriptures:
Leviticus: Chapter 18 verse 16.
“You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; she is your brother’s nakedness.” (This stated no man could have sex with his brother’s wife).
On the 22nd June 1527, Henry told Catherine he no longer considered her as his lawful wife. Her reply, was that the marriage between herself and Arthur, Henry’s brother had not been consummated, making her marriage to Henry valid.
On the 23rd December 1527, William Knight, Henry’s diplomat went to Rome to negotiate the case on behalf of his King, to have his marriage to Catherine annulled.
Pope Clement gave a dispensation, that Henry could marry again, which meant that any child born would be classed as illegitimate. What was omitted was any clause stating his first marriage was invalid. For Henry this did not resolve the issue in hand, for he wanted a male heir to succeed him.
In the early months of 1528, bitter negotiations between the envoys for England and Rome, led to permission being granted on the 13th April, allowing Thomas Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio, to determine the case on English soil.
On the 31st May 1529, the case came before the “Legatine Court” and on the 18th June Catherine denied its right to hear the case, and registered her appeal with Rome. On the 21st June, she knelt before her husband, her King at the hearing, stating she had been a good, faithful and obedient wife to him. On the 25th June, she was charged with contempt, for failing to attend the hearing. In July the case was adjourned, and Pope Clement recalled the case to Rome.
Pope Clement found himself in the middle, so to speak. For on one side he had the English King; Henry VIII, who wanted an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, be approved by Rome so he could marry Anne Boleyn. Whilst on the other hand, King Charles V Emperor of Spain threatened to invade England, if the Pope granted his request.
On the 7th March 1530, Pope Clement summoned Henry VIII to a matrimonial hearing in Rome. The Pope refused an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and of his marriage to Anne Boleyn.
Thomas Wolsey fell out of favour with Henry VIII, for failing to obtain an annulment from the Pope. On the 9th October, Thomas Wolsey was charged with exercising the papal office legate, illegally, primarily foreign jurisdiction on English soil. On the 18th October, the “Great Seal” allowing the Lord Chancellor to exercise the King’s authority, was taken from him, for he no longer bore the right to hold it.
On the 25th October, the newly appointed Lord Chancellor; Sir Thomas More took up the post, made his oath, and received the “Great seal.”
On the 3rd November a bill of articles was presented to Parliament, which would see Thomas Wolsey indicted on the charge of treason. On the 4th November, whilst at his diocese in York, Wolsey was arrested on the charge of high treason. On the long journey south to stand trial, he died at Leicester Abbey in November of 1530.
On the 1st September 1532, Henry VIII made Anne Boleyn Marchioness of Pembroke, and on the 11th October she accompanied Henry to Calais for his meeting with the French King.
In the January of 1533, Anne announced to Henry she was with child, and on the 25th January they were secretly married.
In 1533 Henry introduced a bill in Parliament, declaring that he be the “Supreme Head” in England and no foreign court had jurisdiction in this land. So it was, an English Ecclesiastical Court had no right to rule on Henry’s marriage.
On the 30th March, Thomas Cranmer was consecrated as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. On the 5th April Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was ruled invalid. On the 9th April Catherine was no longer Queen, and on the 12th April Anne Boleyn was proclaimed as the new Queen, and officially crowned Queen on the 1st June.
On the 11th July Pope Clement ordered Henry to separate from Anne, as the original annulment between himself and Catherine was lawful, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn was invalid.
On the 7th September 1533 Anne gave birth to her first child; a daughter and she was christened; Elizabeth.
Thomas Cromwell was entrusted with stamping out opposition to Henry and Anne’s marriage. First on the list was Elizabeth Barton a Benedictine Nun, who was arrested in November on the charge of treason along with six of her followers. On the 20th April 1534, they were all executed and their body parts were fixed to the city gates and London Bridge as a warning.
In February of 1534, Catherine of Aragon, the former Queen of England, had her title changed to “Dowager Princess of Wales.”
On the 23rd March 1534, an “Act of Succession” was passed in Parliament, validifying Henry and Anne’s marriage and the right of succession for their offspring. All Henry’s subjects were also required to swear an oath or face life imprisonment.
In March of 1534, Parliament passed an act which would see an end to papal taxes.
On the 12th April Sir Thomas More was ordered to take the oath – he refused and on the 17th April he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and beheaded on the charge of treason on the 6th July 1535.
In May Catherine and Princess Mary, also refused to swear the oath; Catherine was banished to Kimbolton Castle and had no further contact with her daughter.
On the 25th September 1534, Pope Clement VII died and on the 13th October Alexander Farnese was the newly elected; Pope Paul III.
In November 1534, Parliament brought in a piece of legislation: “An Act of Supremacy” which ultimately recognised King Henry VIII as the “Head of the English Church.” The act was designed to make it clear, that Parliament recognised Henry VIII as the true head of the “Church of England.”