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Source Exercise 5: The Henrician Reformation 4

The bulk of the text is devoted to setting out, in the form of a dialogue between a lawyer and a theologian, the various arguments against the validity of Henry’s first marriage. This in itself indicates the importance Henry’s government placed on gaining public acceptance for the divorce, both to avoid the risk of an uprising and to enable Henry to stand up to foreign opposition.

However the preface, from which this passage comes, sets out the wider context by considering the issue of having a queen regnant – i.e. a queen reigning in her own right. It assumes that a queen must marry and that this will in itself prove an insuperable barrier. Not only does it raise the question of the husband’s dominant role with regards to his wife, but the husband’s origins must count against the match wherever he might come from. Firstly, there are political objections: it argues that it would be unacceptable to allow a Scot or Frenchman to rule England when the kings of England claim sovereignty over both those kingdoms, while marrying an English nobleman would cause resentment among all the other nobles and lead to trouble. Were Mary to marry a foreigner, the Glasse argues, ‘proximity of blood’ (because the Spanish royal family, form whom Mary was descended through her mother, was so closely related to all the royal houses of Europe) would bring Mary within the ‘prohibited error’ of incest and thus render her and her realm liable to divine vengeance. This might be considered the weakest part of the argument, but the emphasis on the horror in which incest is held helps to strengthen it considerably.

Thus the Glasse of the Truthe set out an agenda which would not only make the political case for the divorce but would also hang over the question of royal marriage and the succession throughout the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I.

Source 2

And Jehosophat the king did constitute Levites and priests, and the ancient heads of Israel, that they should judge the judgement and the causes of the Lord, towards all the inhabitants of the earth. …
Furthermore, Hezekiah did appoint the priests and the Levites in their order to wait by course, every man according to his office, for the burnt offerings and peace offerings, to minister and to thank and to pray in the gates of the lodge of the Lord…
Josias also did ordain priests in their offices, and commanded many things.
By all which it may appear, that Christian kings be sovereigns over the priests as over all other their subjects, and may command the priests to do their offices as well as they do [command] others: and ought by their supreme office to see that all men, of all degrees, do their duties whereunto they be called either by God or by the king. And those kings that do so, chiefly do execute well their office. So that the king’s highness, taking upon him as Supreme Head of the Church of England to see that as well spiritual men as temporal do their duties, does neither make innovation in the church nor yet trouble the order thereof: but does as the chief and the best of the kings of Israel did, and as all good Christian kings ought to do. Which office good Christian emperors always took upon them in calling the universal councils of all countries in one place and at one time to assemble, to the intent all heresies troubling the church might be there extirpated.

NOTE: Jehosophat, Hezekiah and Josias were all kings in the Old Testament; Levites were a type of Jewish clergy.


3. From the evidence, does this appear to be from a private letter or from a printed tract?


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