January 5, 1531 – Pope Clement VII Forbids King Henry VIII from Remarrying

On January 5, 1531, Pope Clement VII sends a letter to King Henry VIIIof England forbidding him to remarry under penalty of ex-communication. Henry, who was looking for a way out of his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, ignored the pope’s warning. He went on to marry Anne Boleyn (and five subsequent wives), leading to his ex-communication and one of the most significant schisms in the history of Christianity.

Catherine was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and the aunt of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, in addition to being the widow of Henry’s brother, Arthur. Increasingly concerned by his failure to produce a legitimate heir—although he publicly acknowledged an illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy—Henry searched for a way to end his marriage in a manner consistent with his Catholic faith. This was necessary for political reasons, as a monarch violating Catholic doctrine risked disgrace and condemnation by the pope. Henry was also by all accounts a fairly devout Catholic. He was a known opponent of the Protestant Reformation that was taking shape on the continent, earning the title of Defender of the Faith from Pope Leo X for a treatise he wrote attacking Martin Luther.

Read more on the originally published article here.

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