23 March 1534 – The Pope versus Henry VIII

Posted By on March 23, 2017

On this day in history, 23rd March 1534, Pope Clement VII declared that the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon “always hath stood, and still doth stand, firm and canonical […] and that the aforesaid Henry king of England is and shall be bound and obstrict to the matrimonial society and cohabitation with the said lady Katherine his lawful wife and queen, to bold end maintain her with such love and princely honour, as becometh a loving husband, and his kingly honour, to do”, which, of course, was a bit of a problem seeing as Henry VIII had been married to Anne Boleyn for over a year.

As for Mary, the king’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon, the Pope declared that she “standeth, and shall stand, lawful and legitimate”. Pope Clement also threatened the king with excommunication if he did not abandon Anne and return to Catherine.

You can read the papal bull at http://www.thereformation.info/Bull%201534.htm.

While the Pope was issuing that bull, Parliament in England was passing the First Act of Succession. This act declared the validity of Henry VIII’s marriage, to Anne Boleyn, and recognised the rights of their issue to inherit the throne. According to Parliament, Elizabeth, Henry’s daughter by Anne Boleyn, was legitimate and was the heir to the throne, while the Pope viewed Mary as legitimate and the heir to the throne. Oh dear!

The Act of Succession also required subjects to swear an oath renouncing any foreign authority and recognising Anne Boleyn as Henry VIII’s wife and their children as legitimate heirs to the succession. Click here to read more

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