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Presentation on theme: "RELIGION & RELIGIOUS CHANGE IN ENGLAND, C.1470-1558 ORIGINS OF THE ROYAL SUPREMACY."— Presentation transcript:


2 WHAT IS THE ROYAL SUPREMACY? Question of how Henry VIII’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon might be annulled as illegitimate to clear the way for a marriage to Anne Boleyn : ‘The King’s Great Matter’. Result: challenge Papal authority: Establish Henry as ‘Emperor’ in England. Destroyed monasteries Vastly increase Royal wealth and authority Arguably render England ‘Protestant’ for next 5 centuries.


4 BACKGROUND/CONTEXT: DYNASTIC POLITICS Obsessive desire for a son. Why? Dynasty = stability Wars of the Roses a fresh memory – Henry VII ended them. How ‘legitimate’ were the Tudors? Births, marriage, death ramifications for the realm and all who lived in it. Body Monarchical = Body Politic. This was a time of personal kingship. Henry’s chief objective was to reconfigure his family Doing so made significant changes to kingship which had profound and shocking implications for the realm.

5 A GLASSE OF THE TRUTHE (1532) Henry referred bluntly to the fact that he was: ‘childless’. Neglecting the presence of Mary. Problem of Queens: Largely unprecedented, and understood to be vulnerable. A Glasse of the Truthe (1532) explained his reasons for thinking his marriage to was Katherine invalid. Need for male heir more significant for country at large than Henry: ‘For his lack of heirs male is a displeasure to him but his life time: as lacking that which naturally is desired of all men….But our lack shall be permanent so long as the world lasteth: except that God provide ’ ‘If the female heir, shall chance to rule, she cannot continue long without a husband, which by God’s law, must then be her governor and head, and so finally shall direct his realm’. Problem Mary and Elizabeth would both face. popular consent Problem: winning popular consent for either a foreign Prince or a native subject: ‘And as touching any marriage within this realm, we think, it were hard to devise any condign and able person, for so high an enterprise, much harder, to find one, with whom the whole realm would and could be contended to have him ruler and governor’.

6 DISPUTE Ceased sleeping with Katherine of Aragon from around 1525: Grew a beard – which she disliked. Henry’s character crucial: Understood blessings in life to be signs from God: And demanded them as his right. Life had led him to think that way: 1509, good fortune of inheriting the throne Did so peacefully Young, healthy, handsome and beloved. Vigorous and physically impressive – embodied majesty

7 EGO-GO-GO: deserved Left him with the conviction that he deserved to be blessed: Not accept personal misfortune Try to rectify it and resume his position as God’s favoured son. Usually done with force; or swift revenge. That his ‘Great Matter’ took almost a decade to resolve is a testament to its severity.

8 BIBLE 1526 – Henry ‘discovers’ explanation for absence of a son in the Bible. Leviticus 18:16: ‘Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of they brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness’ 20: 21: ‘And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness: they shall be childless’. Aragon marriage was clearly – in Henry’s mind – contrary to God’s law. Not a divorce – marriage had never existed in the first place. Consequently been living in sin for 20 years: thus no sons.

9 A ‘HUMANIST’ MOMENT? Last lecture – Bible scholarship part of humanist renewal of the Church: Scriptural authority over tradition Debate about whether Papal authority to interpret scripture sacrosanct; or whether scripture spoke for itself. Henry’s was an appeal to divine law, not papal. Tapping into new and exciting ideas; and (implicitly at first) calling into question papal supremacy. THIS WAS AN ISSUE OF CONSCIENCE, NOT A WHIM! Idea that marriage could be deemed invalid by previous relationship with close kin not new: Papacy constantly grant dispensations allowing people to marry in this way. Pursuing this route would have preserved balance of power between King and Pope as it was. Fact Henry based it upon the bible tells us much about him Used to be thought that King relied upon a succession of advisers in his ‘Great Matter’: Changed strategies with personnel. Scripture only employed once all of those avenues failed. Now Now clear that biblical annotations – in Henry’s hand – were there from the beginning. Deeply involved. Wrote, read, debated with vigour.

10 ‘CONVERSION’ ‘Official’ line, cast as a conversion experience. Had been wallowing in sin, now seen the light through scripture. Conviction : letter to his sister (1527) after the annulment of her marriage to the Earl of Angus on the grounds of bigamy. Henry exhorted her to observe: ‘the divine ordinance to inseparable matrimony ’ and warned ‘what charge of conscience, what grudge and fretting, yes, what danger of damnation should it be to your soul, with perpetual infamy to your renown, slanderously to distain with dishonour so goodly a creature…namely your natural child, procreate in lawful matrimony, as to reputed baseborn’.

11 HENRY VS POPE Renaissance & the Papacy: Threatened by questioning Control over the Church historically shaky/ perennially disputed. Conciliarism. Older debates in a fresh context: Wealthy/ostentatious/ embodied neglect of the gospel [the source text which would renew the Church]. Clash with notions of 1 st Christians – simple lives/persecuted/humble/ charitable. Hypocrisy of aggressive foreign policy/ position as a secular ruler (Papal States). Erasmus – Julius II excluded from heaven: Julius II – ‘Warrior Pope’. Arrives at heaven in usual magnificence only to be shredded by St. Peter in questions at the gate. Critical that ideal not live up to reality, rather than ideal itself. Critical that ideal not live up to reality, rather than ideal itself. Henry – like Reformers/Protestants – not set out to use marriage to break from the Church: Long record of loyal service to the Papacy 1513: Holy League 1518: Treaty Of London (answering a Papal call to Peace). 1521: in attacking Luther.

12 HENRY VS POPE: Pope Clement VII not particularly hostile to idea of dissolving Henry- Katherine’s marriage : Long record of good relations between Henry VIII and the Medici Popes. Giovanni de’ Medici, Leo X (1513-21) – applauded Henry’s Kingship. Giulio de’Medici, Clement VII (1523-) viewed Henry with particular favour. First Golden Rose of his pontificate sent to Henry 1524, Fidei Defensor. 1527, Henry sent the Pope 30,000 ducats to help in the face of warfare. Problem lay in the fact that Katherine’s nephew was the most powerful man in Europe: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Warring in Italy – with the French – for half a century, Papacy’s position precarious. 1527 – Charles V’s troops sacked Rome. Pope an imperial prisoner in all but name. Henry sent Bishop Gardiner and Edward Foxe as envoy’s to the Pope: Delays & procrastinations. Two years of being rebuffed at the Papal court. April 1529, Gardiner reported to Henry: ‘His Holiness is in a great perplexity and agony of mind, nor can tell what to do. He seemeth in words, fashion, and manner of speaking, as though he would do somewhat for your Highness: and yet, when it cometh to the point, nothing he doth’. Also reported to have wished the queen dead to ease his burden! Delay frustrated Henry Question need for Papal approval – Leviticus burning in his mind: Increasingly looked to King like a straightforward act of obedience to divine law. ‘I am the Lord’s anointed, why wouldn’t he give me an heir’. Explore alternative routes to get around the problem. Wolsey tried to take over the Church whilst the Pope was imprisoned. Had a document of adjudication set up – all required was the Pope’s signature.


14 LEGAL AVENUES: KATHERINE OF ARAGON Pressure Katherine into becoming a nun: Would necessitate the termination of their marriage. Katherine of Aragon - defence team: Vital that she been seen to be treated fairly John Fisher, Cuthbert Tunstall, Juan Luis Vives. She passionately believed that their marriage was legitimate and that, therefore, so was Mary. Secret court from May 1527. Debated and considered: Fisher debated Robert Wakefield (Cambridge Professor of Hebrew) Leviticus 20:21 not ‘he will be childless’ but ‘he will be without sons ’. An improvement on the Vulgate Bible: typical of humanist scholarship of the time. Not everyone happy with the case been staked on divine law over the papacy : Fisher : Old Testament was equivocal. Henry may be arguing that marriage to a brother’s widow was against natural law – i.e. fundamentally wrong – but God appeared a little confused on the issue. Deuteronomy: expressly commanded marriage to a brother’s widow. Henry’s scholars tried to dismiss this as an aspect of Jewish ceremonial law which was consequently not binding. Fisher : would God have permitted something – however temporarily – against nature? ‘I’ll see your Leviticus, and I’ll raise you Deuteronomy …….’

15 LEGAL AVENUES: KATHERINE’S MARRIAGE TO ARTHUR Investigation of Katherine’s first marriage to Henry’s brother, Arthur. Leviticus could only apply if Katherine-Arthur been a ‘real’ marriage: i.e. that is was consummated. Katherine claimed it was not. Henry and team dredged a mass of 20 year old gossip to prove that it was.

16 PAPAL HEARING: September 1528, finally secured a Papal commission to investigate the case: Led by papal legate: Carindal Campeggio. Katherine produced a key document: alternative version of the original papal dispensation to marry in 1509. Henry’s legal case rested upon the wording of the original document. Debate: was the new document was a forgery? Scuppered Campeggio’s investigation for 9 months. Legatine court eventually met June 1529: Presided over by Wolsey and a reluctant Campeggio. Spends time trying to get the case recalled to Rome; or for Katherine to become a nun. Series of bitter court room confrontations - Katherine kneels before King and pleads with him. Wrong to casted her as victim and he has villain – complex moral case unfolding before the court. Fisher: willing to lay down his life like John the Baptist in the case. John the Baptist died for criticising King Herod’s unlawful marriage; subtle label of Henry as tyrant. Katherine’s appeal reached Rome, and Pope repealed the Court’s authority. Summer of 1529, clear an impasse had been reached: Henry brutal in response. Wolsely removed. Indication of change of tactic: to attack the papal legate to attack the Pope he represented. Wolsey guilty of praemunire – offense of appealing to an outside authority in a matter under the jurisdiction of the realm. Traditional charge for those who put the affairs of the church above those of the king.

17 Wolsey replaced by Thomas More as Lord Chancellor – ironic: man who could not secure king his divorce replaced by one who did not want to. right Move towards questioning on what grounds – and with what right – the Papacy had to intervene in a matter of royalty in England.

18 PROPAGANDA & PRESSURE Henry recognized that he needed to persuade population of the rights of his case since the route of international law was looking bleak.

19 CURBING CLERICAL POWER: ‘ Anti-clerical’ Parliament 1529: Not simply mobilising a wellspring of bile against a corrupt medieval Church, a ‘stepping-stone’ to Reform. Many ‘reformers’ committed to the Church, not against it. Condemnation of vices: avarice, simony, taxation. Henry’s need to curtail the Church’s co-opted by those of an evangelical bent to try to win favour for Lutheran thought. Unsuccessful: but Henry keen to use evangelical rhetoric against Church power where it suited him. Tyndale, Obedience of a Christian Simon Fish, Supplication of Beggars : Hyperbolic but met mood of the time: illegitimacy of a Church so powerful even the King could not oppose it. 1529 Parliament decried clerical abuses – non-residence, probate fees, pluralism, engagement in secular appointments. Precedents Precedents set for the House of Commons to pass religious legislation, and intrusion of religious conflict into the public sphere

20 PRE-EMPTING THE SUPREMACY: Convocation of the Church drew up a list of reforms which Henry oversaw: Practicing Royal Supremacy before the theory existed to support it. Wolsey had built up such a power base that he effectively ran the Church in England. His patronage networks and infrastructure now belonged to the King.

21 CHANGING TACTICS: This was still about applying pressure on the Papacy rather than rupturing from it. New initiatives to win papal approval still being pursued. Different protagonists. Thomas Cranmer/Stephen Gardiner canvas opinion of Europe’s universities on legality of King’s marriage to Katherine. Embassies sent abroad – international propaganda questioning the Pope’s judgement/right to judge. 1530 – several universities found in the king’s favour. Sent a letter to the Pope that year, signed by multiple clerics and learned men and subscribing to the king’s cause. Clement VII understood that unless he took matters into hand, England might act alone. Finally heard the case at Rome. Irony Irony : all of the research, debate and activity meant that the king’s thinking had evolved so much from 1527 that he now questioned the RIGHT of the Papacy to hear the case at all. anything must Conviction that anything which acted to constrain his authority within his realm must be wrong. His case being heard outside his realm offended his sense of majesty. By 1530, mass of material in the great research project came to fruition Collectanea satis copiosa.

22 COULD A KING BE SUMMONED TO ROME? Protestant or Humanist? No higher legal authority in the realm than the king:  Luther accused Henry of being a Pope in England. Draw on humanist ideas – authority of the Bible. Old Testament kings seemed to have those powers – David. Research: Christian Emperors – Constantine: History showed that King of England no King at all, but an Emperor – and therefore in charge of the Church. 1531, entire Church charged with praemunire. Accused the Church of treason by virtue of their being clergy – simultaneously absurd and undeniable Developed on the run, reactionary: No clear ‘Pope’ vs ‘King’ parties Progress from 1529 erratic in absence of Wolsey. Only with new personnel that pathway cleared. Edward Lee as Archbishop of York; Gardiner as Bishop of Winchester. Thomas Cromwell – former servant of Wolsey. Tudor Revolution in Government? Geoffrey Elton Cromwell or the King? Cromwell: effective administrator/strategist with regards to Parliament. Pivotal management of 3 rd session of ‘Reformation Parl’ in January 1532 managed at every turn. Needed to be – what the King was trying to do was unprecedented, and those being asked to decide were not used to being asked to do so – tense and anxious. Privy Councillors holding meetings with MPs to pressure them into agreeing that King’s marriage should only be decided within the realm.

23 SUPREMACY: Break with Rome was given legal definition by: Act in Restraint of Annates (1534) Withdrew revenue from Rome – Church taxes to remain in England. King in charge of appointments of Abbots and Bishops. Act of Appeals (1533) Ideological justification of the Supremacy which redefined Kingship.

24 ‘Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same…..he hath being also institute and furnished by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God with plenary, whole and entire power, pre- eminence, authority, prerogative and jurisdiction’. England an Empire England an Empire – everybody said so, had always said so. Meant the English rulers had the right to authority over Church and State ‘without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons’. Marriage could now be annulled at home Also meant that Henry now ruled the Church of England Act of Appeals (1533)

25 RAMIFICATIONS Was much of this new? Henry had been leaning towards humanism which vaunted the authority of the Bible. Long been attracted by image of himself as Emperor. Long dominated the Church in England through Wolsey. Idea of dissolving ecclesiastical institutions to fund the monarchy was not unprecedented. Henry’s Grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort; Cardinal Wolsey, done same. Royal Supremacy gave unprecedented scope to those ideas: Solidity Legal sanction – permanence and sanctioned by appeals to antiquity.

26 Conclusion: A beginning or an end? Debate: is this the end of a period beginning in 1525; or the start of something new? Things determined by contingencies rather than co-ordinated plans. Dependent on the balance and sway of vicissitudes of European politics. Traditional accounts of Reformation: beginning of England’s march to Protestantism: March away from the middle ages to rule by a more ‘Enlightened’ form of religion. And to the increasing presence of parliament in England’s life. Culminating in Civil War and Glorious Revolution. Human behaviour rarely accords with inevitability: Developed on the run – not a leap into Protestantism. Henry and his supporters indebted to humanism/renaissance (like Protestants) But being cut from same cloth not necessarily make for same result An act undertaken on religious conviction, it was a conviction about royal power; not the process of salvation Crucial for the Reformation - marked out the context in which it would occur: Monarch as the agent of renewal - appealed to as such by reformers. What did it mean that Rome’s authority over the Church was false?


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