The troubled marriage case of Henry VIII
Petition of the Lords of England to pope Clemens VII
asking for the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon.
Vatican Secret Archives - A.A., Arm. I-XVIII 4098A
Special Italian/English edition by the Vatican Secrets Archives. World premiere held at the Vatican on 23 June, 2009, before the highest Vatican authorities, the world ambassadors at the Holy See, teaching professors of the Pontifical Universities and eminent representatives of military, political and civil organizations.
Preface to the work - His Excellency Monsignor Sergio Pagano, Bishop of Celene – Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives.
Marital love, succession to the throne, the hope for a male heir as a guarantee of safe posterity, genuine or sometimes calculated religious deference, compliance with the human weakness and pride of blood, the merits of Tudor princes and the corruption of their court, the slavish devotion and, on the other side, the respectable conduct of nobles and clergymen, the impudent ambitions of a lady and the bitter disappointment of a proud queen, all these elements are entwined in a setting, worthy of Shakespeare (who actually described those facts in a historical drama), which was the background to king Henry VIII’s “Great Matter”, i.e. the sovereign’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the feverish attempts to achieve a sought-after new marriage with Anne Boleyn, who, he hoped, would finally give him a male descendant that his legitimate wife was no longer able to produce.
Since 1530, the Vatican Secret Archives have been preserving the document which, in some ways, can be regarded, though not as the most important, at least as the most impressive and representative of the English sovereign’s dogged determination throughout that intricate and much debated affair (A.A., Arm. I-XVIII 4098A).
It is the address of the peers of England to Clement VII, dating 13 July 1530, to persuade the pontiff to acknowledge the nullity of Henry’s marriage with Catherine of Aragon, according to what the subscribers believed to be right canonical reasons, otherwise long discussed in England and among the legates and diplomats in Rome, and with the authoritative opinions of the universities in Cambridge, Orléans, Oxford, Angers, Bologna, Bourges, Padua and Paris.
As much as 83 noteworthy personalities signed the plea ( a large parchment document in a nice cursive style) and almost each of them (with rare exceptions) added their seal or the seal at their disposals to such a binding document, whether the subscribers agreed with the reasons to be explained to the pope pro parte Henrici or they were forced to accept the content of the letter (as some of them undoubtedly were) by the violent reaction of the sovereign; , at that point he was weary enough to make jurists and clergymen study the law codes and to run a difficult relationship with the Holy See since April 1527, ( a crucial year for Clement VII, victim of the imperial troops during the terrible Sack of Rome) and he was resolved, whether the “Supreme See” liked it or not, to get married with Anne Boleyn whom he had fallen in love with during the February 1526 carnival feastings.