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Further legislative acts of England

Article by Chelsey Trisa

In Parliament, Bishop John Fisher championed Catherine and the clergy; he had inserted into the first article, the phrase “as far as the word of God allows”. In Convocation, however, Archbishop Warham requested a discussion but was met by a stunned silence; then Warham said, “He who is silent seems to consent”, to which a clergyman responded, “Then we are all silent.” The Convocation granted consent to the King’s five articles and the payment on 8 March 1531. That same year Parliament passed the Pardon to Clergy Act 1531.

The breaking of the power of Rome proceeded little by little. In 1532, Cromwell brought before Parliament the Supplication Against the Ordinaries which listed nine grievances against the Church, including abuses of power and Convocation’s independent legislative power. Finally, on 10 May, the King demanded of Convocation that the Church should renounce all authority to make laws and, on 15 May, the Submission of the Clergy was subscribed, which recognised Royal Supremacy over the church so that it could no longer make canon law without royal licence, i.e. without the permission of the King; thus completely emasculating it as a law-making body. (This would subsequently be passed by the Parliament in 1534 and again in 1536.) The day after this More resigned as Chancellor, leaving Cromwell as Henry’s chief minister. (Cromwell never became Chancellor; his power came – and was lost – through his informal relations with Henry.)

Several Acts of Parliament then followed. The Act in Conditional Restraint of Annates, which proposed that the clergy should pay no more than 5% of their first year’s revenue (annates) to Rome proved at first controversial, and required Henry’s presence in the House of Lords three times and the browbeating of the Commons. The Act in Restraint of Appeals which was drafted by Cromwell, apart from outlawing appeals to Rome on ecclesiastical matters, declared that “this realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the Imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporality, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience”, thus declaring England an independent country in every respect. English historian Geoffrey Elton has called this Act an “essential ingredient” of the “Tudor revolution” in that it expounded a theory of national sovereignty. The Act in Absolute Restraint of Annates outlawed all annates to Rome, and also ordered that if cathedrals refused the King’s nomination for bishop, they would be liable to punishment by praemunire. Finally in 1534 the Acts of Supremacy made Henry “supreme head in earth of the Church of England” and disregarded any “usage, custom, foreign laws, foreign authority [or] prescription”.

Meanwhile, having taken Anne to France on a pre-nuptial honeymoon, Henry was married to her in Westminster Abbey in January 1533. This was made easier by the death of Archbishop Warham, a stalwart opponent of an annulment, after which Henry appointed Thomas Cranmer as his successor as Archbishop of Canterbury; Cranmer was prepared to grant the annulment of the marriage to Catherine as Henry required. Anne gave birth to a daughter, Princess Elizabeth, three months after the marriage. The Pope responded to the marriage by excommunicating both Henry and Cranmer from the Roman Catholic Church (11 July 1533). Henry was to be excommunicated again in December 1538.

Consequently in the same year the Act of First Fruits and Tenths transferred the taxes on ecclesiastical income from the Pope to the Crown. The Act Concerning Peter’s Pence and Dispensations outlawed the annual payment by landowners of one penny to the Pope. This Act also reiterated that England had “no superior under God, but only your Grace” and that Henry’s “imperial crown” had been diminished by “the unreasonable and uncharitable usurpations and exactions” of the Pope.

In case any of this should be resisted Parliament passed the Treasons Act 1534 which made it high treason punishable by death to deny Royal Supremacy; the following year Thomas More and John Fisher were executed under this legislation. Finally in 1536 Parliament passed the Act against the Pope’s Authority which removed the last part of papal authority still legal. This was Rome’s power in England to decide disputes concerning Scripture.

About the Author

Chelsey Trisa’s: Palace Resorts, Singles Cruise,Korean Airline, AndItalian Villas.

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