7 March 1530 – Pope Clement VII Forbids Henry VIII to Marry Again

On this day in history, 7th March 1530, Pope Clement VII issued the following bull:

“Bull, notifying that on the appeal of queen Katharine from the judgment of the Legates, who had declared her contumacious for refusing their jurisdiction as being not impartial, the Pope had committed the cause, at her request, to Master Paul Capisucio, the Pope’s chaplain, and auditor of the Apostolic palace, with power to cite the King and others; that the said Auditor, ascertaining that access was not safe, caused the said citation, with an inhibition under censures, and a penalty of 10,000 ducats, to be posted on the doors of the churches in Rome, at Bruges, Tournay, and Dunkirk, and the towns of the diocese of Terouenne (Morinensis). The Queen, however, having complained that the King had boasted, notwithstanding the inhibition and mandate against him, that he would proceed to a second marriage, the Pope issues this inhibition, to be fixed on the doors of the churches as before, under the penalty of the greater excommunication, and interdict to be laid upon the kingdom.
Bologna, 7 March 1530, 7 Clement VII.”
 (LP iv. 6256)

Catherine of Aragon had made the Pope aware that Henry VIII was determined to marry Anne Boleyn and the Pope’s reaction to this disobedience was to threaten the King with excommunication. It didn’t work. Henry VIII continued doing everything he could to annul his first marriage, sending men to universities to canvas their opinion on whether his first marriage was contrary to God’s law.

In February 1531, Henry VIII claimed the title of “Sole Protector and Supreme Head of the Church of England”, although he had to compromise by adding “as far as allowed by the law of Christ, Supreme Head of the same.” This paved the way for the break with Rome and for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine. Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony in January 1533 and his first marriage was formally annulled in May 1533, shortly before Anne’s coronation.

As far as the break with Rome is concerned, it happened in stages with the March 1532 Act in Restraint of Annates being the first legal part of the process. This act limited annates (payments from churches to Rome) to 5%. In 1534 annates were abolished completely in the Act in Absolute Restraint of Annates. The 1533 Act in Restraint of Appeals began the process of transferring the power of the Church in Rome to Henry VIII and his government, and is seen as the starting point of the English Reformation. All appeals to the Pope were prohibited and the King was made the final authority on all matters.

Poor Catherine of Aragon could never have known that her refusal to accept the annulment and her appeal to Rome for the Pope’s support would lead to England breaking with her beloved church. In the days before she died, Catherine was consumed with worry that she was to blame for the ‘heresies’ and ‘scandals’ that England was now suffering from. They were, of course, not her fault.

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6 thoughts on “7 March 1530 – Pope Clement VII Forbids Henry VIII to Marry Again”
  1. I do feel deeply sorry that she was discarded so cruely by Henry. I also admire her as she dug her heels well and truly in. I wonder what would of been her fate if she had accepted a divorce.

  2. Katherine was an amazing woman and an exemplary Queen. One of the best Queens of that country, I think. It amazes me, the arrogant attitude of Henry VIII..
    thinking that he was on an equal par with the Lord. And the lengths he went to, and all the problems that arose because of his desire for Anne. Only to cast her aside and destroy her after he had her.

  3. I feel that all of Henry’s wives were victim to to his wild delusions that he could do whatever he wanted. Women were not as important as men back then, but to have complete disregard for them is just mind boggling. Katherine showed grace and honor in that horrible time, we should all strive to be so strong.

  4. It seems impossible that he did so much and killed those who spoke against Anne but sent her the block just a few years later. RIP COA and AB xx

  5. Katherine really had to be on the ball to get wise to the King trying to circumvent the courts and proceed to the do it yourself marriage/break from Rome and must have had a lot of inner fortitude in order to give the Pope the heads up on his intentions. We think of her as poor abandoned Katherine, but perhaps we should think more of her courage and determination to sue for justice. Henry may have been running out of patience and Anne out of time as a woman (childbirth time) but they had wanted to go down the legal root; they knew that Katherine would oppose them and that she too had a strong suit. Henry may have believed in his cause as righteous, but so did Katherine and she did not have another motive other than to protect her own rights as a wife and mother and those of her child. She was a brave woman, in an age when women had few rights and she was the husband of a powerful, but insecure King, who wanted his own way; to marry the women he was passionate about, and to have a son and heir.

    It was good that at this time the church could stand as a witness and a refuge outside of the social and political power of Kings and corrupt governments. That Rome could have the final say in a King’s divorce may not be to the cup of tea of the modern mind, but it did act as a neutral arbitor in the complex affairs of human society, to which all had the right of appeal. Even as a woman and a foreigner in the English court, Katherine had the right as a Catholic member of the Universal Church, to appeal against the powerful injustice that she believed her husband’s ministers were forcing upon her. Katherine believed Henry was being misled; she had more concern for his soul, evn at the peril of her own body, than she knew and did not reason that it was Henry himself who was now making all the decisions in the divorce case.

    Henry could make an appeal to the courts in England, to the church courts and to Rome; so could Katherine. Why was Henry so anxious to block that appeal; to put pressure on the curia and the rota in Rome to throw out her appeal; to make sure that the Pope did not listen to Katherine’s case? Because he wanted to marry Anne, no other reason. He wanted to move things forward quickly and the move to Rome would hold things up. It is also believed that the Pope did not have any intention of granting Henry a divorce and that Campeggio had private instructions to postpone the case to Rome; Katherine may just have got her appeal in first. The trial at Blackfriars continued through the Summer of 1529 without the Queen, only to rise late on and never to sit again. When Henry learned of this he now wanted to take things into his own conrtrol and laid down the groundwork to move without Rome’s consent. The Pope, in my opinion made the correct move by making a threat to Henry to await the decision and not to interfere with justice. Excommunication would have been a final step; but it was a useful tool to make King’s who want their own way to fall into line; for the time being at least.

    In this case; the threat made Henry do one thing and state another. He was busily laying the ground work for a stage by stage move away from Rome, but he was still making appeals to Rome. Finally, with Cranmer and Cromwell in place, singing from the same hymn sheet, his case was put as a theological one, the universities canvised for learned opinion, and Parliament summoned to begin the process of enabling Henry to take control of church assets, estates, finances, and to bring the cergy under royal control. Once this was done, it was only a matter of time before the headship of the church followed, and with it the divorce and marriage to Anne.

  6. Even taking into consideration that Henry thought he could do anything he liked, and did, in modern terms, he was a bigamist! His secret marriage to Anne took place months before his marriage to Katharine was declared illegal, which demonstrates just how arrogant Henry was and for someone who had originally been destined for the Church until Arthur died, he knew what he was doing was wrong! But we saw how he bent the law to marry Katharine, so why am I surprised! Poor Katherine was fighting a man who would stop at nothing to get his own way. She has to be admired for her stoicism.

    The strutting image Hans Holbein created of Henry says it all, but stand back and if you had no idea of who the man was, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was a portrait of a rich fat man with attitude!

    For a man who was a lusty as Henry, I have always wondered how would he have coped with being a man of the cloth and supposedly meant to lead a celibate life, had Arthur lived? Would he have argued that since Wolsey was his senior and had a mistress, he was just following Wolsey’s lead?

    Had he lived today, hopefully he would have been imprisoned for bigamy. However, I’m thankful we can make all these observations from centuries of hindsight otherwise we might have landed in the Tower, or more likely, on the gallows.

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