July 11 – Pope Clement VII has had all he can take of Henry VIII

By this day in Tudor history, 11th July 1533, Pope Clement VII had go to the end of his tether with King Henry VIII.

But how had Henry VIII gone from being lauded as Defender of the Faith in 1521 to being threatened with excommunication under 12 years later? What on earth had he done to upset the Pope?

In the video and transcript below, I share details on Henry VIII’s misbehaviour, the ultimatum that the pope gave Henry, and what happened next…


By this day in Tudor history, 11th July 1533, Pope Clement VII had really had enough of King Henry VIII’s behaviour.
Henry, who had been awarded the title “Fidei Defensor” (Defender of the Faith) by Pope Leo X in 1521, for defending the Catholic Church against the works of Martin Luther, had not only abandoned his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, without an annulment from the Pope, he had remarried AND been granted the title of Supreme Head of the Church in England by Convocation. It was all too much for Pope Clement.

On 11th July 1533, Pope Clement declared that the king’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was null and void, as was the annulment that had been declared by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury in May 1533. The pope also restored Catherine of Aragon to her “royal state” and ordered the wayward king to abandon the newly crowned and pregnant Anne Boleyn and return to Catherine. If he didn’t then Pope Clement would issue the bull of excommunication that he had drawn up.

Henry had until September to heed the pope’s warning, otherwise he’d be excommunicated from the Catholic Church, the most severe punishment that the Church could inflict.

Did Henry VIII take any notice of the pope?

Of course not.

Henry had come to believe that as a king he was only answerable to God, and not to the pope, so he made no effort to obey. He did manage to escape excommunication temporarily though, and was excommunicated until 17th December 1538, when Pope Paul III excommunicated him following his further misbehaviour, i.e. his break with Rome, his persecution of those who did not accept his supremacy, the dissolution of the monasteries, and his desecration of religious shrines, including that of Thomas Becket.

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One thought on “July 11 – Pope Clement VII has had all he can take of Henry VIII”
  1. The pope was a distant figure in a far away country, although he was head of the Catholic world and all catholic countries owed fealty to him, one of them was England but now Henry V111 torn by his desire for a dark eyed minx and need for a son, and broken away from the see of Rome and done the unthinkable- set himself up as head of his own church, the Catholic world were aghast, it was blasphemy in their eyes and now this king was damned to purgatory, he had married his wh*re and she was carrying their bastard child, the pope declared their Union invalid and ordered him to return to his true queen Katherine, of course he did nothing of the sort, he was no doubt with Anne when he received the message and they must have both laughed and cursed the pope, he had cut ties with Rome, he believed he was gods voice on earth and god spoke through him, the book Anne had once given him written by William Tyndall where he stated kings are not answerable to anyone but god he had read, and of course found it very helpful, it gave him supreme authority in his realm, but the sacking of the religious houses was very sad, to destroy beautiful buildings which had stood for centuries and in their day, had been not only houses of worship, but refuges for the poor sick and homeless, the beautiful treasures were stolen images were destroyed and there are many that survive today, now crumbling ruins dotted around the breadth of England, now ghosts of their former glory, this was the last straw according to the pope, he ordered the bull of excommunication as a last resort but Henry was too far gone he was committed to Anne Boleyn, he would never abandon her while she was carrying his child, whom he hoped was a son, he was looking to the future and this latest piece of news from his holiness he brushed aside like a fly in the ointment, Henry V111 had changed England irrevocably, now his subjects owed fealty to him not the pope anymore, he was now supreme ruler in his kingdom and it was to prove disastrous for many of his closest allies, as Sir Thomas More quoted ‘ when the lion knows his own strength there is none to gain say him’, it was something his adored second queen was to discover at her cost.

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