Henry VIII - The Break With Rome 1

One of the main reasons that Henry VIII decided to break with the Church of Rome was that he was not granted either a divorce or an annulment.

What is a ‘divorce’?
It is a legal ending of a marriage which has been recognised as valid.

What is an ‘annulment’?
An annulment is the ending of a marriage which is said never to have been real - that means that the marriage was not a true marriage in the first place.

There were five main reasons why Henry kept on insisting that he should have an annulment from Catherine of Aragon.

The first was that he was preoccupied with the need for a male heir. It wasn’t all he could think of but it did occupy his thoughts a lot of the time. In the days of Henry, and in fact right up until the beginning of the 20th Century, a male on the throne was preferred to a female. It’s just a reflection of the times, it is not sexist or even meaning that females - Queens - are not as strong or powerful as Kings. It’s just the way things were.

Henry did have a living daughter with Catherine - Princess Mary - but Kings were preferred over Queens. He thought that he would be remembered as a weak King, unable to produce a boy child. Catherine, by this time, had passed child-bearing age, but this was nonsense, of course - as he had produced Henry Fitzroy, who died when he was 17 years old, with Lady Elizabeth Blount.

Why was the child called ‘Fitzroy as his family name and not Tudor or Blount?
Fitzroy means ‘Son of the King’; so in this way Henry made it clear that the boy was his child.

The second reason Henry wanted an annulment was that Catherine was getting older and her glamorous looks were fading. Henry wanted a ‘newer’ and more pretty woman to hang on his arm as he did kingly things.

Thirdly, Henry still had the idea that the validity of his marriage to Catherine was not Biblically safe - the book of … what?

Which book of the Bible did Henry try to say showed that the hold not have married Catherine?
Leviticus - chapter 20, verses 20 and 21.

20 And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 

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. 

Naturally this was not a very good reference to rely on, as Henry had had children - most had died but at least one survived.

Henry also thought that the way in which the Pope (Julius) didn’t do the job properly of allowing Henry to marry Catherine; Henry eventually thought that the Pope was plain wrong in allowing him to marry his (dead) brother’s wife.

The fourth important reason why Henry wanted an annulment was that he had already fallen in love with Anne Boleyn. Henry was rather ‘one for the ladies’ and fell in and out of love with, basically, any women with whom he could ‘enjoy’ himself. Once that was over, though, he fell for another.

Anne Boleyn was a tricky one, and she had seen quite clearly what Henry was like; her own sister had been ‘a friend’ of Henry’s and he had loved and left her. Anne Boleyn decided that she would not ‘allow’ Henry until they were married. Her refusal left Henry rather more than a little ‘excited’ and this also spurred him on to making strong efforts to get the annulment.

Finally, foreign policy in Europe had turned against the Habsburg family - the traditional, and strong - rulers of Prussia (modern Germany). Prussia and Spain were close allies and so England’s turning against the Habsburgs of Prussia made the King of Spain (Ferdinand) more resolute not to give Henry anything he wanted (ie, agreeing to an annulment).

Those are the five main reasons why Henry thought he should have an annulment. He also thought he should have one because he was king and kings usually got what they wanted.


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