There's only so much a pope can take of a misbehaving king, isn't there? And Pope Clement VII had had enough of Henry VIII by 11th July 1533.
But how had this English king gone from being lauded as Defender of the Faith to being threatened with excommunication? What had he done to upset the Pope?
In today's "on this day in Tudor history" talk, I give details on Henry VIII's misbehaviour, the ultimatum that the pope gave Henry, and what happened next.
Also on this day in history:
- 1536 – Death of Desiderius Erasmus, the famous Humanist scholar, from dysentery at Basel during the night of the 11th/12th July. He was buried in the cathedral at Basel on 18th July. His works included Novum Instrumentum omne (a Latin translation of the epistles and gospel), “The Praise of Folly,” “De Copia”, “Adagia” and “The Education of a Christian Prince”.
- 1558 – Baptism of Robert Greene, writer and playwright, at St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich. His works included the plays “The Scottish History of James IV” and “Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay”, and the romance “Mamillia”.
- 1564 – The plague hit Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. The epidemic lasted six months and killed over 200 people, around a fifth of the population. William Shakespeare was born in April of that year, and his family were fortunate in escaping the plague.
Pope Clement was correct but to be honest I really do feel annoyed at His Holiness because it took him years to get around to making a decision on Henry’s marriage until it was too late. Catherine was vindicated but Henry had already done as he pleased and it was too late to go back now. Henry was actually lucky not to get away with the excommunication for five more years as he was open to rebellion and being overthrown and invaded once it went through. Henry may not have given thought to the spiritual consequences but he did take note of the military threat, building up our coastal defences and he did make the best alliances he could as the tide and wives changed in order to keep invasion at bay.
Henry was the Supreme Head of the English Church and he thought Anne was going to have a son, so he certainly wasn’t going to return to Katherine. He took the gamble.