23 May 1533 – Cranmer Rules on Henry VIII’s Marriage to Catherine of Aragon

Henry VIII and Katherine of AragonOn the morning of the 23rd May 1533, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer declared that Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon had been annulled:-

“My lord of Canterbury gave sentence this day at 11 o’clock* in the great cause of matrimony; has declared it to be against the law of God, and has divorced the King from the noble lady Katharine. He has used himself in this matter very honorably, and all who have been sent hither on the King’s behalf have acted diligently and towardly. Sentence shall be given for the King’s second contract of matrimony before the Feast of Pentecost. The process is partly devised. 23 May.”1

This declaration ‘rubber-stamped’ Convocation’s ruling in March 1533 that Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was contrary to Biblical law and that a papal dispensation should never been given and it paved the way for the coronation of Anne Boleyn which was due to take place at Westminster Abbey on the 1st June. Henry and Anne were already married but now their marriage was 100% legal and the child Anne was carrying would be unquestionably legitimate, it was a coup for the couple and the end of years of struggle and waiting.

* Thomas Bedyll, in a letter to Cromwell, states that the sentence was declared at 10am.2

Notes and Sources

  1. LP vi. 525, Letter from John Tregonwell to Cromwell, 23rd May 1533
  2. LP vi. 526

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2 thoughts on “23 May 1533 – Cranmer Rules on Henry VIII’s Marriage to Catherine of Aragon”
  1. I wonder how Cranmer felt when he had to do the same for Herny regarding Anne Boleyn. Wow, he saw lots of wives come and go,didn’t he. Poor man. Wasn’t he the one elected to leave the note for Henry about Catherine Howard. Yet, he wrote such a wonderful prayer book. He must have been a strang mix of faith and cunning. I can’t help but like him–he’s so very human.

  2. Poor Anne. She was so star-struck, she obviously never dreamed that if the King could so insult an Infanta d’Espana and former Princess of Wales, how much worse could he treat Anne?

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