Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:44 AM
The year was dominated by the events surrounding King Henry VIII's quest for a male heir. Convinced that Catherine of Aragon was incapable of producing a son that would survive, Henry set about securing a divorce that would free him to marry Anne Boleyn. To do so, he had to split England from the Church of Rome.
By the beginning of 1533, Anne Boleyn was pregnant, a fact which precipitated a crisis in Henry VIII's matrimonial affairs. He had for some years been anxious to obtain a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. His brother's widow, and six years older than Henry, Catherine had given birth to six children, but only Henry's daughter Mary had survived.
Henry desperately wanted to produce a male heir and convinced himself that the deaths of Catherine's children were God's punishment for an improper marriage. Under normal circumstances, Pope Clement VII would probably have obliged Henry's request for a divorce the papacy understood in such cases and especially when they involved matters of state. But Catherine was the aunt of Charles V. Holy Roman Emperor, who, quite apart from feelings of family loyalty, had very high moral standards and would not hear of a divorce. The sanctions which the emperor could bring to bear on the papacy far outweighed any pressure that the king could exert.
So the solution to his problem lay in the king's own hands. He had in any case fallen in love with Anne Boleyn and, knowing her to be pregnant, married her secretly on 25 January, thus ensuring that his son would be legitimate and the acknowledged heir to the throne.
But the question of Henry's marriage to Catherine remained unresolved. There was no hope of obtaining a divorce from Rome, so it had to be achieved through the Archbishop of Canterbury. As luck would have it, the archbishop's chair was vacant: Archbishop Warham had died only the previous year. The king appointed Thomas Cranmer, a brilliant young Cambridge scholar of divinity who had, as one of the king's chaplains, been canvassing support for a divorce.
On 30 March, the new archbishop was formally consecrated. Although he took the usual oath of obedience to the pope, he qualified it by a formal assertion that he was not bound to do anything contrary to the law of God or to the king, realm, laws, and prerogatives of England. This, together with the hurriedly passed Act of Appeals, which recognized the English primate as the ultimate authority for English ecclesiastical law without reference to Rome, cleared the way for Henry's divorce.
Immediately after his consecration, Cranmer presided over meeting which decided that Henry's marriage to Catherine was contrary to divine law, and on 10 May he opened his court at Dunstable. Catherine refused to recognize Cranmer's authority to try a cause that was before the papal court and did not attend. On 23 May, the archbishop passed sentence, pronouncing that the pope had no power to license marriages such as Henry's, and that the king and Catherine had never been husband and wife.
Five days later, Cranmer declared Henry and Anne Boleyn lawfully married, and on 1 June Anne was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey. On 11 July, in a belated effort to protect the dignity of the Church, the pope prepared the sentence of excommunication which was delivered in September. Henry had, in effect, broken any remaining links with Rome: the Reformation in England was under way.
The king's personal desires in this matter were, coincidentally, in accordance with the aspirations of his people who, in a wave of nationalism and disillusionment with the Church, were keen to rid themselves of the influence of Rome. In other matters there was no such accordance. Catherine's humiliation was deeply resented by the people, Europe was shocked, and pope and emperor had been insulted.
But the final irony of this tale did not become apparent until three months after Anne's coronation. In the afternoon of Sunday 7 September, Queen Anne gave birth to a daughter. On the following Wednesday, the child was christened Elizabeth the future Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Writer – Marshall Cavendish