October 11, 1542 – Death of Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt, by Hans Holbein

Sir Thomas Wyatt, by Hans Holbein (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Sir Thomas Wyatt was one of the bright poetic lights at the court of Henry VIII, often credited along with Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey for introducing the sonnet from Italy into England.  Anne Boleyn fans will remember the poem he is said to have written about her in her youth, Whoso List to Hunt, as well as the moving Circa Regna Tonat (It Thunders Through the Realm) on her arrest (I’ve posted it – read it here).

Surrey wrote stanzas on Wyatt’s death (entitled, fittingly, Stanzas on Wyatt’s Death):

Wyatt resteth here, that quick could never rest :
Whose heavenly gifts increased by disdain ;
And virtue sank the deeper in his breast :
Such profit he by envy could obtain.

A head, where wisdom mysteries did frame ;
Whose hammers beat still in that lively brain,
As on a stithe, where that some work of fame
Was daily wrought, to turn to Britain’s gain.

A visage stern, and mild ; where both did grow
Vice to contemn, in virtue to rejoice :
Amid great storms, whom grace assured so,
To live upright, and smile at fortune’s choice.

A hand, that taught what might be said in rhyme ;
That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit.
A mark, the which (unperfected for time)
Some may approach, but never none shall hit.

A tongue that serv’d in foreign realms his king ;
Whose courteous talk to virtue did inflame
Each noble heart ; a worthy guide to bring
Our English youth by travail unto fame.

An eye, whose judgment none effect could blind,
Friends to allure, and foes to reconcile ;
Whose piercing look did represent a mind
With virtue fraught, reposed, void of guile.

A heart, where dread was never so imprest
To hide the thought that might the truth advance ;
In neither fortune loft, nor yet represt,
To swell in wealth, or yield unto mischance.

A valiant corpse, where force and beauty met :
Happy, alas! too happy, but for foes,
Lived, and ran the race that nature set ;
Of manhood’s shape, where she the mould did lose.

But to the heavens that simple soul is fled,
Which left, with such as covet Christ to know,
Witness of faith, that never shall be dead ;
Sent for our health, but not received so.

Thus for our guilt this jewel have we lost ;
The earth his bones, the heaven possess his ghost.

(From Wikisource)

 

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September 1, 1532 – Anne Boleyn Created Marquess of Pembroke

Anne Boleyn's ennoblement, as immortalized by Showtimes' The Tudors (Natalie Dormer as Anne, Jonathan Rhys-Meyer right behind her as Henry)

Anne Boleyn’s ennoblement, as immortalized by Showtimes’ The Tudors (Natalie Dormer as Anne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers right behind her as Henry)

This was a huge step. Anne was granted a hereditary peerage in her own right – the first time this had ever been done in England. And what a peerage! Pembroke was the title borne a century earlier by Henry’s great-uncle Jasper Tudor.  Whatever happened to or with Henry, Anne was semi-royal.

The ennoblement occurred right before Anne was about to accompany Henry on a trip to France to drum up support for the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The title was a way of enhancing Anne’s status for the meeting – a step that was soon followed by Anne’s taking over the crown jewels which Catherine was forced to surrender.

The real question is whether this was a reward for Anne finally ceding her virginity to Henry – or the assurance she needed before she would do so. The wording of Anne’s patent vested succession to the title in her “heirs male” – omitting the standard “lawfully begotten.” That strongly suggests that they were contemplating such a possibility. Either way, the question was mooted a couple of weeks later – it was clear that Anne and Henry were sleeping together in France – they had interconnecting bed chambers they spent most of their time in, the Venetian ambassador was claiming they had married in secret…that kind of stuff. Whether the relationship started there is irrelevant to all but the romantics among us, who like to imagine that the lovers were transported after the triumph of the meeting with Francis and threw caution to the wind in the certainty that they would soon be lawfully married…

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June 1, 1533 – Anne Boleyn Crowned

Holbein's Sketch for a Street Tableau

Holbein Sketch for one of the Tableaux at Anne’s Coronation (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

This day was the ultimate triumph for Anne Boleyn: after seven years of struggle and uncertainty, she became the anointed Queen of England, six months pregnant with the promised heir to the throne. But I can’t help viewing the events in the light of what happened afterwards. To me it is a poignant, ironic moment before her ultimate tragedy (which, ironically, is what cemented her legacy and made her immortal…).

Today’s coronation preceded and followed days of festivities and formalities – the before including a procession of barges down the Thames and Anne’s formal entrance into London, the afterwards consisting of jousts, tournaments, and dancing. In the morning was held the traditional and moving ceremony that effectively crowned her as a queen regnant (because it not only anointed her, but also placed the Crown of St. Edward on her head, a gold scepter in her right hand and an ivory rod in her left). Then came the banquet that lasted for hours (twenty-eight dishes were served for the first course, twenty-three for the second…). Anne was seated alone in the middle of the center table, with her ladies standing behind her with napkins and a fingerbowl – and ready to hide what she was doing when she needed to spit or even vomit).

The following comes from Edward Hall’s Chronicles:

On 1 June Queen Anne was brought from Westminster Hall to St Peter’s Abbey in procession, with all the monks of Westminster going in rich copes of gold, with thirteen mitred abbots; and after them all the king’s chapel in rich copes with four bishops and two mitred archbishops, and all the lords going in their parliament robes, and the crown borne before her by the duke of Suffolk, and her two sceptres by two earls, and she herself going under a rich canopy of cloth of gold, dressed in a kirtle of crimson velvet decorated with ermine, and a robe of purple velvet decorated with ermine over that, and a rich coronet with a cap of pearls and stones on her head; and the old duchess of Norfolk carrying her train in a robe of scarlet with a coronet of gold on her cap, and Lord Burgh, the queen’s Chamberlain, supporting the train in the middle.

After her followed ten ladies in robes of scarlet trimmed with ermine and round coronets of gold on their heads; and next after them all the queen’s maids in gowns of scarlet edged with white Baltic fur. And so she was brought to St Peter’s church at Westminster, and there set in her high royal seat, which was made on a high platform before the altar. And there she was anointed and crowned queen of England by the archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of York, and so sat, crowned, in her royal seat all through the mass, and she offered at the said mass. And when the mass was done they left, every man in his order, to Westminster Hall, she still going under the canopy, crowned, with two sceptres in her hands, my Lord Wiltshire her father, and Lord Talbot leading her, and so dined there; and there was made the most honourable feast that has been seen.

The great hall at Westminster was richly hung with rich cloth of Arras, and a table was set at the upper end of the hall, going up twelve steps, where the queen dined; and a rich cloth of estate hung over her head. There were also four other tables along the hall; and it was railed on every side, from the high dais in Westminster Hall to the platform in the church in the abbey.

And when she went to church to her coronation there was a striped blue cloth spread from the high dais of the king’s bench to the high altar of Westminster on which she went.

And when the queen’s Grace had washed her hands, then came the duke of Suffolk, high constable for that day and steward of the feast, riding on horseback, richly dressed and decorated, and with him, also riding on horseback, Lord William Howard as deputy for the duke of Norfolk in his office of marshall of England, and there came the queen’s service followed by the archbishop’s with a certain space between, which was all borne by knights; the archbishop sitting at the queen’s board, at the end on her left hand. The earl of Sussex was sewer, earl of Essex carver, earl of Derby cup bearer, earl of Arundel butler, Viscount Lisle panter, and Lord Grey almoner.

 

SOURCES:

Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Hall’s Chronicle of the History of England – which can be a little difficult to read so please visit EnglishHistory.Net – The Crowning of Anne Boleyn for the wonderful transcription (poke around on there, it’s a great site!)

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May 14, 1536 – Cromwell Informs Gardiner of Recent Events (AKA “Spin in Tudor Times”)

Thomas Cromwell, as played by James Frain in Showtime's The Tudors

Thomas Cromwell, as played by James Frain in Showtime’s The Tudors

So just about everything we know about the fall of Anne Boleyn comes from people who didn’t actually KNOW but were just repeating stories. But on May 14, Cromwell wrote a letter to Gardiner and Wallop, the King’s ambassadors in France, to let them know what was going on. He knew they had heard the rumors, but it was time to give them the “official” version. They had written to the King, they were owed a response, this would be it.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t much. The letter is most interesting in that it speaks a lot about the discovery process but deliberately makes short shrift of the facts: “I write no particularities, the things be so abominable that I think the like was never heard, and therefore I doubt not but that this shall be sufficient…” I’m going to guess Cromwell was being prudent and practical (perhaps even still hoping to add additional charges!) rather than avoiding the subject out of guilt and shame. Either way, he simply cites the Queen’s “abominations” and a plot against the King’s life, and then with those necessities out of the way, moves quickly on to financial issues – settling money owed to Gardiner and to Wallop, which would soon be paid to them – and assuring them that the King thinks they are doing a fine job.

It really feels like, for Cromwell, everything was just business.

 

I know you have not as yet received answer to your letters: they were deferred until the arrival of the bailly of Troyes. Yet the King’s Highness thought convenient that I should inform you of a scheme that was most detestably and abominably devised, contrived imagined, done and countenanced – and so most happily and graciously by the ordinance of God revealed, manifested, and notoriously known to all men. You have surely heard the rumor, yet I shall express unto you some pain of the coming out and of the King’s proceeding in the same. The Queen’s abomination, both in incontinent living and other offenses towards the King’s Highness, was so rank and common that her ladies of her privy chamber and her chamberers could not contain it within their breasts (conceal it). Their disgust led to such frequent communications and conference of it that at the last it came plainly to the ears of some of His Grace’s counsel. Given their duty to his Majesty, they could not conceal it from him: with great fear, they declared what they had unto his Highness. Whereupon in most secret sort, certain persons of the privy chamber and others of her side were examined, in which examination the matter appeared so evident, that beside the crime, with the accident, there broke out a certain conspiracy of the King’s death which extended so far that all we that had examination of it quaked at the danger his Grace was in, and on our knees gave Him laude and praise that He had rescued him so long from it and now manifested the most wretched and detestable determination of the same. Thus were certain men admitted to the Tower for this cause, that is Mark and Norris, and her brother. Then was she apprehended and conveyed to the same place, and after her were sent thither Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton. Norris, Weston, Brereton and Mark are already condemned to death, having been upon arraigned in Westminster Hall on Friday last. She and her brother shall be arraigned tomorrow, and will undoubtedly go the same way. I write no particularities, the things be so abominable that I think the like was never heard, and therefore I doubt not but that this shall be sufficient for your instruction to declare the truth if you have occasion so to do.

Your lordship shall receive 200£ of the 300£ that were out among these men, notwithstanding great suit has been made for the whole, which though the King’s Highness might give in this case yet His Majesty does not forget your service. And the third 100£ is bestowed of the Vicar of Hell (Francis Bryon), upon whom though it be some charge unto you His Highness trusteth ye will think it well bestowed. And thus fare you most heartily well.

From the Rolls in haste this fourteenth of May. Your loving assured friend, Thomas Cromwell

PS – And you Master Wallop shall not be forgotten. The certainty of the amount that ye shall have I cannot tell, but in the next letters you shall know it. I assure you the King’s Highness taketh both your services in as thankful part as you could wish or devise.

SOURCES:

Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell, Volume 2,  edited by Roger Bigelow Merriman

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April 30, 1536 – Henry and Cromwell Writes to Gardiner About…Not That

Signature of Henry VIII (via Open Government License from the National Archives)

Signature of Henry VIII (via Open Government License from the National Archives)

On April 30, 1536, Henry VIII wrote to Stephen Gardiner, who was then serving as England’s ambassador to Francis I. The letter was a general set of instructions on certain diplomatic points that had been in issue between the two countries. Cromwell even sent a cover note, and enclosed cramp rings that Queen Anne would have blessed a couple of weeks ago right before Easter. The letters are completely innocuous (though they are an important part of moving forward in negotiations). So why do they deserve a mention?

It’s all about what they didn’t say. These letters were written and sent on the very day Mark Smeaton was arrested – the day before the May Day Joust where Henry walked away from Anne forever. An interesting PS was added to Henry’s instructions:

P.S.—Though this packet was made up this morning, and delivered to Thos. Barnaby, it has been delayed on account of the French ambassador signifying a wish for an audience. He has told the King that the French king was sending the bailly of Troyes to England “to open unto us the bottom of his heart,” and that he was commanded meanwhile to remove certain sinister opinions entertained of his proceedings; insisting that he had made no peace with the Emperor, and that, as he was informed for certain, that the Emperor and the bishop of Rome had determined upon summoning a General Council at Mantua at Whitsuntide come twelve months, he desired to know Henry’s resolution. The King replied that the matter was too weighty to be hastily disposed of, but that he considered, first, that all Christian princes had as good a right and an equal voice in the indiction of a General Council as either the Pope or the Emperor, and that no such council ought to be summoned without the consent of all; secondly, that though Henry thought it very necessary for the quiet of Christendom to have a Christian free General Council, his good brother would agree that Mantua was a most objectionable place, and most unsafe for princes to repair to.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I see these letters as Henry and Cromwell clearing the decks before the storm. These missives, sent at the last possible moment, would be sent out to smooth over all simmering controversies – so that when the French King (and everyone else) heard the news of Anne’s arrest, it would all blow over easily since no one would be worried about what that meant to them.

The next missive to Gardiner was not sent until May 14 – after the convictions of Brereton, Norris, Weston, and Smeaton but the day before the trials of Anne and George. It is interesting that no letters in this interim were recorded from Marillac (France’s ambassador to England) – while Chapuys informed the Emperor of the spate of arrests on May 2. I have to see this as part of Cromwell’s astute observations and careful planning…

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March 23, 1534 – First Act of Succession

Henry VIII in Parliament, from the Wriothesley Garter Book (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Henry VIII in Parliament, from the Wriothesley Garter Book (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The First Act of Succession (at the time referred to only as the “Act of Succession”) was a key step in Henry’s repudiation of Catherine of Aragon: it recognized Elizabeth, his daughter with Anne Boleyn, as the true heir to the throne (until of course a son was born to this marriage!), and made Mary, his daughter with Catherine, a bastard. While the Church of England had already declared the same thing, this Act of Parliament bound the people much more directly.

It was a formidable weapon because it required every Englishman to swear an oath to recognize this Act, as well as the King’s supremacy:

And that all manner your subjects, as well spiritual as temporal … shall swear a like corporal oath, that they and every of them, without fraud or guile, to their cunning, wit, and uttermost of their powers, shall truly, firmly, and constantly observe, fulfil, maintain, defend, and keep the effects and contents contained and specified in this Act, or in any part thereof.

Those who refused – like Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher – would be guilty of treason and executed. Henry wasn’t messing around!

[E]very such person and persons, of what estate, degree, or condition they be of … and their aiders, counsellors, maintainers, and abettors, and every of them, for every such offence shall be adjudged high traitors, and every such offence shall be adjudged high treason, and the offenders and their aiders, counsellors, maintainers, and abettors, and every of them… shall suffer pains of death, as in cases of high treason; and that also every such offender, being convicted as is aforesaid, shall lose and forfeit … all such manors, lands, tenements, rents, annuities, and hereditaments, which they had in possession as owners, or were sole seized of by or in any right, title, or means, or any other person or persons had to their use, of any estate of inheritance, at the day of such treasons and offences by them committed and done …

Interestingly, only two years later, the Act was superseded by the Second Act of Succession, passed in June 1536 and which vested the succession in Henry’s children by new wife Jane Seymour and made Elizabeth as illegitimate as Mary. Of course, since Henry did not as yet have any children by Jane Seymour, the Second Act also gave Henry “full and plenary power and authority” to choose a different successor in letters patent or through his final Will. Nor was this Henry’s final say on the matter: the Third Act of Succession, passed in July 1543, restored Mary and Elizabeth to the succession (though without removing their illegitimacy) behind Edward, Edward’s children, and any children Henry might yet have with then-wife Katherine Parr) – and of course subject to Henry’s continuing right to change his mind in letters patent or his Will…

SOURCES:

Wikipedia for the First Act of Succession, the Second Act of Succession, and the Third Act of Succession

Luminarium for the full text of the First Act of Succession

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January 29, 1536 – Anne Boleyn’s Fateful Miscarriage

Henry’s Cold Reaction to the News – from The Six Wives of Henry VIII (BBC 1972)

January 29, 1536 was the day that everything changed for Anne Boleyn – it was the day she miscarried of the son that would have kept her safe forever. While the event may not have led directly to her repudiation and execution, it certainly opened the possibility.

Henry VIII needed an heir, that was the bottom line. Remember, this was the man who fully believed that God’s judgment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was revealed in the fact that she had borne him no sons – it was this truth that had pushed him to break with the Catholic Church he had always loved and form his own, answerable to no one but him. Henry trusted his conscience – and that trust was surely much more deserved at the start of his reign than by the end. Power corrupts, and few figures illustrate this as well as Henry VIII.

When Anne miscarried this time, after two major later-term miscarriages – one in 1534, another in 1535 – it led him to see the hand of God once again, or think he did. I say this based on his alleged reaction to the news – depending on the source, he either said “I see God will not give me male children” or warned Anne “you shall have no more sons by me.” Either way, his meaning was clear.

But there’s more to the story. It’s one of those uniquely Tudor tales, packed with elements of divine symmetry and retribution: January 29th was also the day of Catherine of Aragon’s funeral. How ironic that Anne lost her child on the very day Catherine was committed to the earth. On top of that, a rumor, spread by Jane Dormer, Countess of Feria, suggested that the miscarriage was brought on by Anne Boleyn coming into a room to find Jane Seymour on Henry’s lap – prompting Anne to fear that Henry would treat he like had had treated her predecessor (that was Chapuys’ guess, anyway).

 

RESOURCES

Henry Clifford, The Life of Jane Dormer, Duchess of Feria.

Letters & Papers – Chapuys’ letter to Charles V, dated February 10, 1536

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November 29, 1530: Death of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey

“Cardinal Woolsey” (an archaic spelling) by an unknown artist c.1520. Detail from an oil on panel in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Wolsey, Wolsey Wolsey.

Thomas Wolsey was such an important figure of the Tudor court. In a way, his influence lasted far beyond his death – since he was the one who found and trained Thomas Cromwell.

Wolsey was born around 1473 to an Ipswich butcher. Despite such humble origins, he rose through the Church thanks to his brilliance and dedication (and because his timing was perfect: the young Henry VIII was happy to delegate the day-to-day drudgery involved in the running of the government to someone who could never be a threat). Wolsey began as Henry’s Almoner in 1509, a position that gave him a seat on the Privy Council and therefore visibility – and made him unstoppable. In 1514, he became Archbishop of York, the second highest Ecclesiastic title in the land (behind only the Archbishop of Canterbury). Never one to accept limitations (sees being lifetime appointments), Wolsey got himself named a Cardinal in 1515. This automatically made the highest prelate in England, and it happened in the same year that he became Lord Chancellor. From them on, he sought to convey the image of an alter rex, building Hampton Court Palace, intended to be the finest residence in England, to show foreign embassies that the King’s chief minister “knew how to live as graciously as any cardinal in Rome.” The poet John Skelton wrote the following words, illustrating a bit of the contemporary resentment that Wolsey was overstepping his bounds, that too much of his glory was personal and not reflective of his master:

Why come you not to Court?

To which court?

To the King’s court?

Or to Hampton Court?

Nay, to the King’s court!

The King’s court

Should have the excellence

But Hampton Court

Hath the pre-eminence!

Still, Henry probably would have allowed him to continue like that forever had Wolsey not failed in the one task that mattered: procuring a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. That crime could not be excused. Especially since Wolsey had made the mistake of underestimating Anne Boleyn very early on, earning her undying enmity in 1523 when he broke her engagement to Henry Percy, heir to the Duke of Northumberland. In her he had an implacable enemy.

In 1529 Wolsey was stripped of his government office and property, as well as Hampton Court. He did remain Archbishop of York, and so was sent to Yorkshire to “preach to the sheep.” But even there he was not safe from the rabble-rousers at court. It was decided to accuse him of treason – and Henry Percy, Sixth Duke of Northumberland, was the man sent to arrest him (you know Anne Boleyn arranged for that fillip!) and escort him back to London. Wolsey died on the road – many believe he took poison to avoid being tried and disgraced. Right before his death, he is reputed to have said “If I had served God as diligently as I have done the King, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”

Rest in peace.

REFERENCES:

Wikipedia – pages on Thomas Wolsey, Hampton Court Palace.

Historic Royal Palaces – Hampton Court Palace

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November 26, 1533 – Henry FitzRoy Marries Mary Howard

Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond, by Hans Holbein (public domain via Wikipedia Commons)

Henry FitzRoy was the illegitimate son of Henry VIII and Elizabeth Blount. Mary Howard was the second daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and Anne Boleyn’s cousin. The marriage was an enormous coup for the Howard family.

There had been talk, when Henry VIII first began to consider divorcing Catherine of Aragon, to have FitzRoy marry his daughter Mary and thereby assure the future of the Tudor line. The Pope pushed for this solution as the perfect solution to Henry’s Great Matter, and offered to issue the required dispensation. It might even have worked, except that the King was in love with Anne Boleyn…

By November 1533, Anne Boleyn had become Queen of England. She had given birth to her daughter Elizabeth and a son was expected next. The marriage between the fifteen year old FitzRoy and the fourteen year old Mary Howard was a triumph for the Howard family, cementing their position as the premier English family. It also gave assurance that, one way or another, Howard blood would join in the royal line after Henry…

Unfortunately for the young couple, they were not allowed to consummate the marriage. The King was afraid that too much sexual activity had hastened his older brother Arthur’s death (remember – it was at the base of his annulment from Catherine that the two had consummated that marriage) and didn’t want to chance his own son. Thus, when FizRoy died of consumption in 1536 right after turning 17, Mary was not entitled to many of the lands she should have expected as the widow – because without the consummation, the marriage was not a true marriage (a trick Henry was to use again to rid himself of Anne of Cleves)(!).

But that is a story for later. For today, let us toast happiness to the newlyweds and to the still-triumphant Anne Boleyn….

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September 25, 1534 – Death of Pope Clement VII

Pope Clement VII, by Sebastiano del Piombo, c. 1531

Pope Clement VII, by Sebastiano del Piombo, c. 1531

Pope Clement VII was born Giulio di Giuliano de’Medici. He was Pope from 1523 until his death in 1534, the key years of Henry VIII’s Great Matter. Arguably, he caused the schism that created the Church of England given the vacillating and contradictory signals he sent.

Normally, Henry VIII should have been able to count on an annulment – Popes had done no less for every other ruler in need of an heir, based on facts that were far less persuasive than those that Henry put forth. That was one of the reasons that Thomas Cardinal Wolsey was so confident at the start of the ordeal – of course, at the time he was making arrangements for Henry to marry a French princess. When it became clear that the King intended to marry a subject, Anne Boleyn, everything changed. Suddenly Henry’s motives looked suspicious, and his determination questionable – which explains a lot of Clement’s dilatory tactics: he assumed (as most people did) that Henry would soon tire of his affair and the storm would blow over. Clement was wrong.

Clement was also wrong about the lengths to which the English monarch would be willing to go in this matter. Of course, the ever-artful Anne Boleyn timed her surrender perfectly: when she found herself pregnant in January 1533, the final important steps to implement the breach with Rome were all taken in rapid succession. The pregnancy was kept quiet until the papal bulls arrived to allow Thomas Cranmer to be consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury (Clement had, incredibly, provided them despite the Emperor’s warnings – it was one of the only concessions he could make to England and he thought this would help appease Henry). From there, the bill forbidding appeals to Rome, at which point Cranmer could invalidate the King’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and confirm his union with Anne Boleyn. Thus Anne was anointed and crowned on June 1, the final step needed to assure legitimacy of the son she was surely carrying.

Of course, Clement deeply resented the way he’d been duped. He finally ordered Henry to return to Catherine, issuing a bull of excommunication to show ow serious he was (though the sentence was still stayed….). But this was too late. Did it give the King pause? Yes. The news came days before Anne was scheduled to take to her chamber, and he kept the news from her to avoid upsetting her. But even after a daughter was born instead of the son he needed, he remained resolute. Of course, this issue had gained a financial element: the King was now keeping for himself the taxes on ecclesiastical income rather than paying them to Rome. Then Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534, and the Church of England was complete.

Would things have been different if Clement had acted earlier? Catherine of Aragon believed so, she constantly warned that an immediate decision was imperative. I have to agree with her. Henry was profoundly religious, and the seven years he spent fighting created a mounting justification of the rightness of his cause. What would Henry have become if he had been forced to stay with Catherine? Would he have avoided the descent into suspicion and madness that marked his later years? Or would it have started earlier, with an order to have Catherine poisoned? We will never know.

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