28 May 1533 – Archbishop Cranmer proclaims that the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn is valid
Posted By Claire on May 28, 2018
On this day in history, just four days before the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn, and just the day before the coronation celebrations kicked off, Thomas Cranmer, the recently appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, proclaimed the validity of the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
This proclamation at Lambeth Palace was the result of a secret enquiry carried out by the archbishop following the ruling of the special court set up at Dunstable Priory to hear the case for the annulment of Henry VIII’s first marriage. That court dissolved the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Convocation had already determined, on 5th April 1533, that the Pope had no power to dispense in the case of a man marrying his brother’s widow, and that it was contrary to God’s law, i.e. that Pope Julius II should never have granted a dispensation for Henry VIII to marry Catherine, his brother’s widow.
This proclamation was confirmation that the king’s second marriage was true and valid and that the child that Anne was carrying was Henry VIII’s legitimate heir. Anne Boleyn was the rightful queen.
7 thoughts on “28 May 1533 – Archbishop Cranmer proclaims that the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn is valid”
I just love how Henry picks and chooses what he considers is against God’s law. i.e. It’s not okay to marry his brother’s widow but it is okay to marry the sister of a former mistress. He will then decide that his marriage to Anne was wrong.
Thomas Cranmer at this time also put his head in the noose as far asary was concerned. Sadly she would get her vengeance in a couple of decades by executing him
Should say: ‘as far as Mary’
Three years later Cranmer was to declare it invalid, Henrys servants certainly had their work cut out, how can in theory an English court declare that a Pope who all European courts were under the jurisdiction of, was wrong in granting a dispensation for Henry to marry Katherine, but Henry V111 never bothered with all the legal quangos his conscience allowed him to find a way out of anything, he would ignore the rumblings in Rome and besides Anne was pregnant she was most likely carrying his son who must be born legitimate, Henrys desire to rid himself of Katherine made his first marriage into a drama that would make headline news today, it would have been a simple affair had Katherine just gone quietly but her stance made it into the long drawn out bitter battle it became between two people who had once, loved one another very much and who had enormous respect for each other, Henry still had enormous respect for her but caught between Annes nagging and Katherines obstinacy he naturally began to dislike her, his heart lay with Anne and Katherine had turned into an irritating fly on the jam jar that wouldn’t fly away, as we know other Kings had sought dispensations, sometimes because of the consanguinity issues, or simply because they chose to marry another they had fallen in love with, their wife was barren etc, so Henry was not unusual, his ancestor King John was married to his third cousin called Hawise/ Isabella, he then left her for the stunning Isabella of Angouleme with whom he had fallen madly in lust with, Hawise had made no fuss and King Philip of France had put aside his wife to marry Bertrade de Montfort, these women made a dignified exit so why was Katherine so different? There was Mary of course but looking at it from Henrys point of view he wanted a son, England needed a son and he was only too aware of his many rivals who were claimants to the throne, the Tudor hold on the crown was not really secure as crowns won in bloody combat never were, hence the real reason for Buckinghams execution, his argument was he wanted a strong male ruler to carry on his name when he departed from this world, other Kings would understand as it was unthinkable that England could be ruled by a woman, this was the 16th c way of thinking and in fact it had always been that way, Henry was not being selfish by wanting sons yet all Katherine could see was Mary being proclaimed a bastard, she also still loved and revered Henry so it was very hard for her to accept the fact that her once loving husband no longer wanted her, was Katherine being selfish in holding onto Henry was it for her daughters sake and her right to be Henrys heir or was it really for herself, her obstinate refusal to go into a nunnery (which for a very pious woman I doubt would have been that bad), in spite of very real pleadings by Campeggio, her refusal to be called anything other than Queen of England, and to send Henry a New Years gift which annoyed him so much he had the messenger send it straight back to her, the fact that because of her behaviour she was seperated from her beloved daughter and never saw each other again, which caused very real distress and pain to both of them makes one wonder why was she so obstinate? for the majority of most women the fact that they would never see their child again would have made them realise is it all worth it, was there in Katherine a streak of madness that lay in the genes of the Trastrama family, certainly her sister the beautiful yet tragic Juana was so obsessed with her husband she refused to be parted from his corpse and had him taken with her everywhere she went, Katherines behaviour does border on the extreme a bit to, all she had to do was agree to the anullment and she would have enjoyed a cosy life as princess dowager of Wales, had a comfortable pension and enjoyed life at court. she would have lived in many a luxury residence and apart from the fact she would not be addressed as Queen anymore her life would have been so different, an amicable break up of a marriage is so much easier than a bitter one that has a profound effect on the children, Mary was torn between her parents, whilst loving her father she supported her mother, we can see looking back nearly five centuries later that her miserable life was in a sense her own doing, but we are talking about crowns and birthright and also there was Anne, one of her own ladies in waiting, the daughter of a mere knight who Henry wished to replace her with, would her reaction have been different had his new bride to be was a grand princess of France or Holland of Hungary? Being Spanish she would have been incensed that Henry was intent on wedding a Frenchwoman but at least her lineage would have meant she was a good enough match, to even think that her husband would dare to marry her own servant was appalling, just because he was besotted with her, he was also seeking a divorce on the grounds they had never been married no wonder she was insulted, Katherine was a woman of integrity courage and high morals, Friedmann described her as violent in her ardour and it was so sad she fought a losing battle, in the end she was replaced by another woman and so her noble stance was worthless, in the end her marriage which she had fought so hard for was considered no marriage at all, and her rival was declared Henrys true and lawful queen, ever generous even to her enemies, had she known of the tragedy that was to befall her successor she would no doubt have spared a few tears for her also.
Granted, Katherine was obstinate when it came to her own position but also if she had agreed to the annulment it would have made her daughter a bastard. As such she would become unmarriageable. I can’t imagine any parent doing that to their child. (except Henry)
Henry wanted someone to succeed him. In his mind this had to be a male heir. This may not have been the Lord’s plan however. He was given two very capable daughters. Unfortunately he damaged irreparably the eldersest but the younger one ruled quite capably for almost 45yrs. Like I said this is just my opinion.
Yes Henry made Mary a much less desirable match for a foreign prince because he had her bastardised and the same with Elizabeth, the best they could hope for was a match with an English nobleman who would consider it an honour to marry a Kings bastard, in the end all of Marys marriage plans came to nothing as her father was too busy with his own marital affairs, although by law if the parents considered their marriage lawful at the time the child also would be considered legitimate, but Katherine knew that Henry wished to replace their daughter with a son, here we can understand Henrys reasoning as it was for the good of the realm but Katherine thought Mary was good enough to inherit the crown after him, she had her mother as a very good example, Isabella was a legend in her own lifetime but that was not the way Henry saw it, and there was Anne at the other end with himself stuck in the middle, both wife and mistress refusing to back down, because both were as stubborn as the other.
I feel as if I am in my Tardis on a merry go round. Sorry to sound dramatic but a few days ago we were talking about events of May 1536 and Anne’s fall and now we have dropped back in time and are now at the start of Anne’s triumph three years earlier. Henry needed a dispensation for his new marriage, regardless of the legitimacy of his first marriage because he held an affinity within less than four degrees with Anne’s sister Mary who had been his sexual partner. He couldn’t divorce Katherine of Aragon to marry Anne as he would have two living wives and therefore could not remarry. He could only do so if his marriage was declared null and void. His request for an annulment was also not the first, in rare occasions it was granted, although Henry’s had run into international politics as a barrier. Henry had ran out of patience and decided to move himself for an annulment. Thus by a twist of canon law and English interpretation, he had Thomas Cranmer, recently appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury call a Council at Dunstable Abbey and now a week later he had his decision. Many of the called witnesses didn’t turn up, presumably because as supporters of Queen Katherine they saw it as pointless, and the Council made its decision in Henry’s favour. He declared the marriage of Henry Viii and Katherine of Aragon to be invalid and the marriage of Anne and Henry to be valid. The Church in England still officially had such powers, although it would normally be a Nuncio who decided. Church Courts could and did make such rulings but at this level it was the higher clergy or if appealed to, the Holy Father or his representatives who decided. Now that Henry was going it alone and breaking from Rome, now that Anne was carrying the son he hoped he would have, everything needed to be done quickly and Cranmer was authorised to sort it out, without waiting on the Pope.
Of course it was probably inevitable that this group would make this decision as the King willed it and the clergy now accepted his authority over them. Once this was done, Parliament would then pass a programme of legislation designed to invest power in the King as Head of the Church in England and the succession only in the marriage between himself and Anne Boleyn and any criticism of this world be declared high treason. Thus without any further problems, Anne who had already been presented to the public and nobles as Queen in April, was now confirmed as Henry’s only true wife.
Up to this point it can be argued, that despite the fact Henry considered himself a bachelor and free to marry, that Henry committed bigamy when he wed Anne in January 1533 and the majority of his subjects saw things in this manner. Katherine refused any title but Queen and would speak to nobody who didn’t call her so and she never budged from that position. Henry now had the worst marital nightmare possible, a wife living whom he found in open defiance of him and a pregnant wife who he had to appease and protect. His people would have to choose and the death penalty faced anyone who refused. His nobles had to keep any sympathy or allegiance to Katherine quiet and do as they were told and accept Anne as Queen, or, once the legislation passed through Parliament, again face imprisonment or worse. Thus most of them now knuckled down and backed the King. Like it or not, Henry had his way finally after seven long years and Anne Boleyn was his Queen and her Coronation would soon follow.
I know it is weird, from Anne’s dreadful death and the fall of her family onto her very own personal triumph – the legality of her own hasty secretive union which had taken place some time before, and in a few days her glorious coronation, that which she had been promised years before had finally come to fruition and doubly joyous she was carrying the next heir to England, she must have felt over the moon, no wonder her motto was the most happy.