The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII

The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII – Scrinium – A.A., Arm. I-XVIII 4098A – Archivum Secretum Vaticanum (Vatican City, Vatican City State)

England — 1530

A final effort at ecclesiastical unity: the English nobility's futile attempt to obtain papal approval for King Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon

  1. The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII is a precious artifact from the English Reformation

  2. King Henry VIII (1491-1547) was declared “Defender of the Faith” by the Pope in 1521

  3. He broke with the Catholic Church nine years later to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)

The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII

King Henry VIII of England may have had the most famous love life of any monarch in history, one that had wide-reaching religious and political implications and changed the course of European history. Within a decade, Henry VIII went from being the staunchest defender of the Catholic faith to one of the most prominent leaders of the Protestant movement. It all began when the King, disappointed by his wife Catherine of Aragon’s inability to produce a male heir, pursued a divorce in favor of a marriage with Anne Boleyn. In the year 1530, a letter signed and sealed by the overwhelming majority of the House of Lords attempted to pressure Pope Clement VII into granting the divorce that Henry VIII wanted. This request was famously denied and thus Henry VIII made himself the head of his own church, and free to divorce or marry whomever he pleased.

The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII

King Henry VIII (1491-1547) is probably the most famous monarch in English history, mostly due to his infamous personal life. The “Great Matter” is the term given to the issue of the King’s desire to be divorced from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536), so that he might marry Anne Boleyn (ca. 1501-36), whom the King expected to produce a male heir for the English throne. A letter dated July 13th, 1530 and affixed with 81 wax seals from English noblemen representing 70% of the House of Lords was addressed to Pope Clement VII (1478-1534), who was pressured to grant the King’s request by ominous threats of a similar divorce of the English church from Rome. It took two months for the letter to reach Rome, but when it did the Pope did not acquiesce to these demands and the rest, as they say, is history. First rediscovered in the 1920’s, this letter is an incredibly precious witness to the politics and attitudes of the English court during the 16th century and the creation of a national identity defined by opposition to papal power and influences from the continent in general, an attitude that persists today.

An Improbable Reformation

The break with Rome was less of a reflection of pro-Protestant attitudes in England than a political decision based upon the fact that Catherine of Aragon, through no fault of her own, had failed to produce a son after numerous miscarriages and the King was now determined to pursue other options. In fact, Henry VIII wrote and published a repudiation of Martin Luther (1483-1546) that earned him the name Fidei Defensor or “Defender of the Faith” from Pope Leo X (1475-1521) only nine years earlier. Even after the split from the papacy, the Anglican Church was essentially unchanged save for the replacement of the pope with the monarch. Incredibly, the 1530 letter that resulted in this split was hidden in a chest built under a chair until it was discovered in 1926 by the Prefect of the Vatican Archives, Angelo Mercati (1870-1955).


Alternative Titles
Causa Anglica
The letter contains the request of 81 English nobles to Pope Clement VII to annul Henry VIII's first marriage
King Henry VIII of England (1491–1547)

Available facsimile editions:
The 1530 Letter to Pope Clement VII – Scrinium – A.A., Arm. I-XVIII 4098A – Archivum Secretum Vaticanum (Vatican City, Vatican City State)
Scrinium – Venice, 2009
Limited Edition: 236 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Causa Anglica

Scrinium – Venice, 2009

Publisher: Scrinium – Venice, 2009
Limited Edition: 236 copies
Commentary: 1 volume
Languages: Italian, English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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