Pope Clement VIIOn 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.”

Hmmm… A little tricky for Henry VIII when he had married Anne Boleyn in January 1533 and now had a daughter by her. The papal bull went on state that the “issue proceeding”, i.e. Henry and Catherine’s daughter Mary, “standeth, and shall stand, lawful and legitimate”. The Pope also threatened the king with excommunication if he did not return to his first wife.

On the very same day that this bull was issued, Henry VIII’s Parliament passed the First Act of Succession declaring the validity of Henry VIII’s second marriage, to Anne Boleyn, and recognising the rights of their issue to inherit the throne. While Rome deemed Mary legitimate and Elizabeth as illegitimate, Parliament enacted a law stating the opposite.

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

You can read the papal bull at www.thereformation.info and you can read more about the Act of Succession in my article The First Act of Succession.

Today is Holy Wednesday and you can read more about it in my article Holy Wednesday in Tudor Times.

Notes and Sources

  • The Papal Bull 23 March 1534 at http://www.thereformation.info/Bull%201534.htm
  • Guy, John (2014) Henry VIII: The Quest for Fame (Penguin Monarchs)
  • ed. Gee, Henry and Hardy, William John (1896) Documents Illustrative of the History of the English Church, Compiled from Original Sources, p232-243.

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