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.

Related Post