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The Tudor Society

11 May 1532 – Henry VIII attacks the clergy

On this day in history, 11th May 1532, King Henry VIII sent for the Speaker and a delegation from the Commons and accused the clergy of being "scarce our subjects", attacking their oath to the Pope.

Here is chronicler Edward Hall's account of this:

"The. xi. daie of Maie, the kyng sent for the Speker again, and. xii. of the common house, hauvng with hym eight Lordes, and saied to theim, welbeloued subiectes, we thought that y clergie of our realme, had been our subiectes wholy, but now wee haue well perceiued,
that they bee but halfe our subiectes, yea, and scace our subiectes: for all the Prelates at their consecracion, make an othe to the Pope, clene contrary to the othe that they make to vs, so that they seme to be his subiectes, and not ours, the copie of bothe the othes I deliuer here to you, requiryng you to inuent some ordre, that we bee not thus deluded, of our Spirituall subiectes. The Spekar departed and caused the othes to be redde in the comon house, the very tenor whereof ensueth.

"I Ihon bishop or Abbot of A. from this houre forward, shalbe faithefull and obedient to sainct Peter, and to the holy Churche of Rome, and to my lorde the Pope, and his successors Canonically enteryng, I shall not be of counsaill nor concent, that they shall lese either life or member, or shall bee taken, or suffre any violence, or any wrong by any meanes, their Counsaill to me credited, by theim their messyngers or letters, I shall not willyngly discouer to any person : the Papacie of Rome, the rules of the holy fathers, and the Regalie of sainct Peter, I shall help and retain, and defende against all men : the Legate of the Sea Apostolicke, goyng and commyng I shall honourably entreate, the rightes, honors, priuileges, authorities of the Churche of Rome, and of the Pope and his successors, I shall cause to be conserued, defended, augmented and promoted, I shall not bee in counsaill, treatie, or any acte, in the whiche any thyng shalbe imagined against hym, or the Churche of Rome, there rightes, states, honors, or powers. And if I knowe any suche to bee moued or compassed, I shall resist it to my power, and as sone as I can, I shall aduertise hym or suche as maie geue hym knowlege. The rules of the holy fathers, the Decrees, Ordinaunces, Sentences, Disposicions, Reseruacions, Prouisions, and Commaundementes Apostolicke, to my power I shall kepe and cause to be kept of other : Heretickes, Sismatikes and rebelles to our holy father and his successors, I shal resist and persecute to my power, I shall come to the Sinode, when I am called, except I be letted by a Canonicall impediment, the lightes of the Apostles I shall visite yerely personally, or by my deputie, I shall not alien nor sell my possessions, without the Popes Counsuill: so God me helpe and the holy Euangelistes."

"I Ihon Bishop of. A. vtterly renounce and clerely forsake all suche clauses, woordes, sentences and grauntes, whiche I haue or shall haue here alter, of the Popes holines, of and for the Bishopricke of A. that in any wise hath been, is or hereafter maie bee hurtefull
or preiudiciall to your highnes, your heires, successors, dignitie, priuilege, or estate royall : and also I dooe swere, that I shalbe faithfull and true, and faithe and truth I shall beare to you my souereigne lorde, and to your heires kynges of thesame, of life and lymme, & yearthly worship aboue all creatures, for to liue and dye with you and yours, against all people, and diligently I shalbe attendant, to all your nedes and busines, after my witt and power, and your counsaill I shall kepe and holde, knowlegyng my self to hold my bishopricke of you onely, besechyng you of restitucion of the temporalties of thesame, promisyng as before, that I shalbe faithefull, true, and obedient subiect to your saied highnes heires, and successors duryng my life, and the seruices and other thynges dewe to youre highnes, for the restitucion of the Temporalties, of thesame Bishoprike I shall truly dooe and obediently perfourme, so God me helpe and all sainctes."

The openyng of these othes, was one of the occasions, why the Pope within two yere folowyng, lost all his iurisdiccion in Englande, as you shall here afterward."

On 16th May 1532, the Submission of the Clergy was officially ratified, with Convocation recognising the king instead of the Pope as the supreme lawmaker of the church in England.

Notes and Sources

  • Hall's chronicle: containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, London, printed for J. Johnson, 1809, p. 788-789.

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11 May 1532 – Henry VIII attacks the clergy