On 5th January 1531, Pope Clement VII wrote to Henry VIII following a plea from Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s wife. In his letter he forbade Henry to remarry while the case for the annulment was still on-going and threatened him with excommunication if he took matters into his own hands and disobeyed Rome:
“At the request of the Queen, forbids Henry to remarry until the decision of the case, and declares that if he does all issue will be illegitimate. Forbids any one in England, of ecclesiastical or secular dignity, universities, parliaments, courts of law, &c., to make any decision in an affair the judgment of which is reserved for the Holy See. The whole under pain of excommunication. As Henry would not receive a former citation, this is to be affixed to the church gates of Bruges, Tournay, and other towns in the Low Countries, which will be sufficient promulgation. Rome, 5 Jan. 1531.”
Henry had been trying to get his marriage to Catherine annulled since the summer of 1527 and had a new queen, Anne Boleyn, waiting in the wings. It is little wonder that Henry VIII did eventually take matters into his own hands, breaking with Rome and marrying Anne in secret in January 1533. The annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine was declared by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer on 23rd May 1533 following a special trial at Dunstable Priory, Bedfordshire.
A Timeline of Anne Boleyn’s Relationship with Henry VIII – From 1528-1533 gives more information on Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII’s relationship.
Notes and Sources
- LP v. 27
- LP vi. 525, 526, 529