CHAPTER VIII. HENRY VIII (iv) 1529-33 - THE BREACH WITH ROME
The subsequent methods of procedure were largely the outcome of the diplomatic situation on the Continent. In the first place, the idea of calling an Oecumenical Council had been much in the air. Each of the three great monarchs was desirous of calling one, on his own terms; so were the Lutherans. But for each the terms must be such as should ensure practical subservience to his own dictation: while to the Pope the proposal, so long as it was hypothetical, was a thing he could produce as either a sop or a threat, as circumstances might commend. In the next place, for the time Charles dominated the Pope; but while he was making terms with the Lutherans, under pressure of the advance of the Turks on the east, whereby his loyalty to the papacy was made doubtful, he was also on the other hand, Katharine's unyielding champion. Thus any positive declaration on the divorce from Clement was tolerably certain to finally alienate either Charles or Henry. Now the rivalry of Charles was the great obstacle to Francis: whose object had come to be to utilise England so as to obtain for himself the concessions he wanted from the Emperor; extorting them as the result of joint pressure on the part of France and England or as the price of a separation between France and England. The thing he most feared was a compromise between Henry and Charles. Thus his policy was, by associating himself with Henry, to detach the Pope also from Charles, by the menace of a joint Anglo-French schism from the Roman obedience. Therefore in the summer and autumn of 1532 Francis was ostentatiously friendly to Henry and the cause of the Divorce. Conferences to which Henry was invited to bring Anne Boleyn as his Queen-elect were arranged, and took place at Calais and Boulogne. Henry thereafter made up his mind to a decisive step and on their return to England in November or perhaps in the following January he married Anne privately. Francis however had successfully avoided committing himself unequivocally to an uncompromising English alliance.
[1533 The crisis arrives]
In December, the Pope and the Emperor both being at Bologna, Clement professed to the English agents a more amenable spirit, suggesting that the divorce should be held over for a General Council, or that Henry should agree to have the trial held outside his own realms; propositions, however, to neither of which the King could be lured to assent. But the year 1533 had hardly opened when Charles was enabled to publish a Papal warning of excommunication against Henry unless he restored Katharine to her full rights as his wife (Feb.); while he detached France from England by the promise of concessions restoring her position in Italy.
Clement might now defer a pronouncement in favour of Katharine; there was no practical room for hoping that he might still pronounce against her. Henry stood alone; if the Pope were finally driven to choose between defying the King or the Emperor there could be no doubt which of the two he would rather have for an enemy. It only remained for Henry to put it beyond question that the declaration must be made, and that his own enmity would take an energetic form. His reply to the Pope was decisive. Early in April, parliament passed the great Act in Restraint of Appeals, which was virtually the announcement of the repudiation of the Roman allegiance; before the end of May, the new Archbishop of Canterbury in his court pronounced the marriage with Katharine void ab initio, and the recent marriage with her rival valid.
[Restraint of Appeals]
In form, the Act in Restraint of Appeals was not a fresh piece of legislation but a declaration of the existing law; a flat assertion that any appeal to the jurisdiction of Rome from the English courts brought the appellant under the penalties of praemunire, the "spiritualty" of the country being competent to deal with spiritual cases, and the sovereign recognising no jurisdiction superior to his own. It did not raise the question of authority in matters of doctrine; nor was it a formal declaration of schism from Rome. Its meaning however was clear. The constitutional theory of independence, put forward on many occasions as the warrant for legislation, was henceforth to be acted upon in its most ample interpretation: though, as with the Annates Bill, the final confirmation was suspended to leave Clement a last chance of surrender. Taken on its merits the Act laid down principles entirely acceptable to all parties who claim or claimed independence of Rome: yet it was quite obviously issued with the direct purpose of setting aside the Pope's authority in a particular case already referred to him.
[Sidenote 1: Cranmer Archbishop] [Sidenote 2: The decisive breach]