I have a few questions concerning how legitimacy was determined during the Tudor Era. I know Elizabeth I was born September 7th, 1533, which means she would’ve been conceived in late November or early December of 1532. Although Henry and Anne may have been married upon their return from Calais, it’s believed that the first ceremony was null and void due to the fact that Henry was still technically married to Catherine of Aragon at the time, and that’s why there was a second marriage ceremony in January. Even despite this second ceremony, Thomas Cranmer didn’t declare Henry’s marriage to Catherine null and void until May 1533. That would mean Elizabeth was conceived before Henry and Anne were legitimately married. Could she technically be considered illegitimate because she was conceived out of wedlock, or does it not matter if she was conceived out of wedlock so long as her parents were married by the time she was born? Thanks in advance for your answer, I adore your site!

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It's a bit of a conundrum this question. In Henry's opinion, his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was never valid so whenever Elizabeth was conceived she was legitimate and born in wedlock. Henry truly believed that the Pope did not have the power to give a dispensation for a marriage that was contrary to God's law. The marriage was annulled and that meant that it had never been valid so the only marriage that was valid was the one to Anne Boleyn, hence Elizabeth was legitimate. Very complicated!

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