Henry VIII - The Break With Rome 2

Quick review:

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.

Who can tell me what a ‘divorce’ is?
It is a legal ending of a marriage which has been recognised as valid.

Who can tell me what an ‘annulment’ is?
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.

To sum up the points made towards the end of the last lesson, Pope Julius II (Picture 3) gave an annulment to the marriage of Arthur and Catherine, allowing Henry to marry Catherine, but Pope Clement II (picture 1) - the Pope after Julius - refused to give Henry and Catherine (Pictures 6 and 7)  an annulment so Henry could marry Anne Boleyn (pictures 4 and 5).

Henry did try and try to get an annulment; he sent Cardinal Wolsey here there and everywhere to see the Pope and persuade him to give an annulment - but was totally unsuccessful. This was the main reason why Cardinal Wolsey lost favour and ended up as an enemy of Anne Boleyn; Wolsey was shunted off up to York, pleaded with the King to let him back to Court but died before he could become friends again with Henry.

There were actually 11 main reasons why Wolsey failed to get an annulment. Here’s a list. It’s also on page 17 of the booklet.

1) The Pope used delaying tactics, to put off having to make a decision.

2) If the Pope said that the previous Pope’s decision to grant an annulment to Arthur and Catherine was wrong, that would make people think that the whole Papacy (everything to do with the Pope) was weaker. And don’t forget that it seems everyone wanted power in those days.

3) Charles of France (Burgundy) (allied with Prussia and Spain) were rivals, so Charles could not be relied on to agree with anything which went against what Ferdinand of Spain wanted.

4) Charles of France was a strong character and dominated the Pope - he was a powerful enemy, Charles, and cold threaten the Pope’s power.

5) Cardinal Campeggio’s (picture 2) court ended without a decision - it was just a waste of time.

6) The Bible (Leviticus) wasn’t very clear or solid;

7) Charles of France (Burgundy), who was also Holy Roman Emperor, refused to let any papers about an annulment leave Spain anyway so nothing could be signed;

8) Charles of France (Burgundy) and Catherine were relatives and he would naturally want to keep her as functioning Queen;

9) Catherine herself refused to give up her marriage - she still loved Henry;

10) Henry wanted a public statement - a proclamation - that the marriage was invalid. This was unheard of and an absolute affront to everyone involved (including the Pope)


11) All the data from Biblical sources and the thoughts of theologians were a bit dodgy - not solid facts and could be argued against.

Henry even tried to get a court set up in England to argue the case for an annulment; he thought that if the court was in England he could exert more influence over it and get what he wanted. But the Pope refused and only sent Cardinal Campaggio to ‘look into the matter’.

Perhaps the most important person in the failure to get an annulment was Catherine herself.
Catherine was called before the court of Cardinal Campaggio, and she simply refused to acknowledge that the court was valid. She made a passionate appeal to Henry then just walked out.

Catherine still loved Henry; but she also had pride in herself and her position. She had a powerful personality, which made her well-loved by the people - and she would not simply stand aside so Henry could pick up the next wife.

If the marriage of Henry and Catherine was annulled, then probably Mary would be declared ‘illegitimate’.

What is an ‘illegitimate’ child?
A child who is illegitimate is one who is born to an unmarried mother.

And if that happened, Mary could not become Queen.

Catherine also maintained that her marriage to Arthur was not consummated.

What is ‘to be consummated’?
To be proven by having intimate relations.

If Catherine said that the marriage was not consummated, there was not much anyone could do - it was unprovable. So all the Biblical stuff simply didn’t matter.

And finally, of course Catherine was popular amongst the people. She was well-loved, well-known, she made many visits among the people, and that always endears a King or Queen to the people.

When there was a debate in Parliament about the possibility of an annulment, even under severe threat, two bishops spoke up on here behalf and fully supported her.

The Campaign against Papal Authority

This is where things get more complicated. King Henry had to try to make sure everyone thought that the Pope was not good enough to be in charge of Henry and religion in England.

As everyone had been brought up very strongly to believe that whatever the Church of Rome said, must be true and obeyed or they would go to Hell, to change those thoughts would be very difficult indeed.

Henry tried to get the Pope to come to England to hold his Court of enquiry into the Annulment; the Pope insisted that Henry should go to Rome; Henry point-blank refused to go anywhere for the case.

Not only that (a direct refusal to do as the Pope wanted), but Henry passed a Law in England that gave him the title of Supreme Head of the Church of England - which technically gave Henry authority over the Pope. remember that everyone was still a Roman Catholic at this time.

While Cardinal Wolsey was still in favour and still had lots of power, he tried these things to obtain an annulment.

All the above seems complicated and doesn’t seem to explain what exactly happened between Henry VIII and the Roman Catholic Church.

Put far more simply, the break between Henry and the Church of Rome happened because the Pope (Clement) refused to annul the marriage of Henry and Catherine, so Henry could try for a boy child with Anne Boleyn.

When the Pope refused, Henry just said something like - “Ok, forget it - from now on, the Church in England will be separate from the Church of Rome, and I will be the head of the Church of England and can give myself an annulment”.

And so, that’s what he did. He separated the Church in England from the the “Church of Rome”, and it became called “The Church of England”.

The Church of England is a protestant Church, which means it has very small differences with the Roman Catholic Church.

If you ever go to England, and go to a Church of England High Church (an Abbey or a Cathedral) service, and then later go to a Roman Catholic service, you will see that almost everything which is said and done is the very similar.

(The main difference is that Protestants believe in a personal, one-to-one relationship with God and Jesus (which lets us find meanings given directly by God), and the Roman Catholics believe that The Pope is God’s representative on Earth, and has all the power to forgive sin and make statements which show God’s intentions.)


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