8 June 1536 – The Lady Mary Writes to Her Father and the Second Act of Succession is Passed
Posted By Claire on June 8, 2013
On 8th June 1536, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary, continued in her quest to reconcile with her father following the death of Anne Boleyn. Letters and Papers has a record of her letter:
“Begs his daily blessing. Though she understands, to her inestimable comfort, that he has forgiven all her offences and withdrawn his displeasure long time conceived against her, her joy will not be full till she is allowed to come to his presence. Begs pardon for her continual suit and rude writing, for nature will suffer her to do no otherwise. Hopes God will preserve him and the Queen, and send them a prince. Hownsdon, 8 June.”1
Unfortunately, things were actually going to get worse between father and daughter because Henry still expected his daughter to submit and accept him as the Supreme Head of the English Church and to accept her illegitimacy. On 15th June 1536 Henry sent members of his council to bully Mary into submission. See Henry VIII’s Council Bullies Mary.
While Mary was writing this letter, Parliament me and passed the Second Act of Succession (28 Henr. VIII, c. 7). Parliament confirmed that the King was “lawfully divorced” from Anne Boleyn and declared her “attainted by authority of Parliament, as she already was by common law. Parliament then confirmed the legitimacy of Henry VIII’s marriage to Jane Seymour:
“and [forasmuch as you] have chosen and taken a right noble, virtuous, and excellent lady, Queen Jane, to your true and lawful wife; who, for her convenient years, excellent beauty, and pureness of flesh and blood, is apt to conceive issue by your Highness; which marriage is so pure and sincere, without spot, doubt or impediment…”2
and the illegitimacy of Mary and Elizabeth:
“May it now please your Majesty, for the extinguishment of all doubts, and for the pure and perfect unity of us your subjects, and all our posterities, that inasmuch as the marriage with the Lady Catherine having been invalid, the issue of that marriage is therefore illegitimate; and the marriage with the Lady Anne Boleyn having been upon true and just causes deemed of no value nor effect, the issue of this marriage is also illegitimate; the succession to the throne be now therefore determined to the issue of the marriage with Queen Jane.”3
Notes and Sources
- LP x. 1083
- Froude, James. The Essential James A. Froude Collection, p1305
6 thoughts on “8 June 1536 – The Lady Mary Writes to Her Father and the Second Act of Succession is Passed”
Why did Henry divorce Anne? Since she was dead, couldn’t he remarry anyway? Was it only to make Elizabeth illegitimate?
The marriage was annulled before she was executed. He wanted it so that he was never legally married to her, so that the marriage never existed.
But why? Regardless of whether we call it “divorce” or “annulment”, what was the reason for it? Henry needed to get out of his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne, but since Anne was (ok, soon would be) dead, couldn’t he remarry without the divorce / annulment? Was it to make Elizabeth illegitimate, or had perhaps the machinery been set in motion before it was clear that Anne would be executed, and Henry just let it keep running?
I’m trying to get things straight in my mind (to the extent that that’s possible when so much is unknown), and my interest in Anne is quite new, so I’ll probably be struggling for a while yet. (This site is a great resource.) Anyway:
Re the use of “divorce”, I take the point that the marriage was annulled. Nonetheless, the Act of Succession says both that the marriage was “utterly void and of none effect” and (as quoted in your post) that Henry “was and is lawfully divorced”. Ives in The Life and Death says the marriage was annulled but also uses the term “divorce” (p 354-6), and it’s under “divorce” in the index. So it seems that the word does apply, at least in an informal sense.
Re the timing, according to Ives, Anne was tried on the 15th of May, the formal award declaring the marriage null and void was made by Cranmer the 17th, and Anne was executed two days later. So when the annulment went through, it was already clear that Anne would soon be dead.
(BTW, when trying to work out the dates, i also looked at the Wikipedia entry to Anne, and I think it has the wrong date for when “Cranmer declared Anne’s marriage to Henry dissolved” — it has 14 May — through, I think, a misreading of their source, Starkey’s Six Wives, p 581. It ‘s necessary to look at the previous page too.)
After seeing Sarah Blogar’s act as Mary, i now have a soft spot for Mary. It is just sad for a girl to be threatened by her father to accept her illigetimat status. Why was it so important for Mary to submit?
She had to she had no other choice, she had to obey her father just the same as everyone else had to.
I think that Henry feared that if he had another wife still living it would again upset things for the succession and his marriage to Jane may not get recognized. That is why he wanted to make sure that Anne was not only executed for her alleged treasons but that the marriage was as if it did not exist. The ending of his marriage pushed Elizabeth out of the succession and meant that his only heirs now would be via Jane Seymour. Flawless logic!
And poor Mary still had to say that her mother was not legally married to her father and that he was Head of the Church, despite Anne out of the way. I think she was truly shocked to learn that her father was behind the bullying as well as Anne. She must have been terrified when she realised that she did not have Henry’s protection, nor would she have until she submitted.
Jane at least had a kind heart to persuade Henry to accept Mary back and to get her to accept him for all of his titles and stuff. I think she just wanted them all to have a happy domestic family life and the strife to be at an end. Henry’s health was not as it used to be due to his fall and I think Jane was worried that he would do himself more harm by getting upset all the time. If he had a quiet life: he may regain his health.