« PreviousContinue »
brother had died childless, was not admitted. The canonical impediment was, however, removed by a bull of dispensation from Julius the second, dated the 26th of December, 1503. Soon after it was obtained, the contract was signed: but, for some reason or other, when prince Henry arrived at a sufficient
age, it was annulled. Henry the seventh died, on the 7th day of April, 1509. He was succeeded by his son, Henry the eighth. The marriage between him and Katharine, was, with the full consent of both parties and the advice of the council of state, solemnized, on the third of the following June. The queen had several miscarriages ; as also some children, who were born alive, but, died, almost immediately; and one daughter, Mary, who lived to inherit the crown.
The king seems, for the first time, to have expressed scruples respecting the lawfulness of the marriage, about the year 1527. The pope's commission, authorising cardinal Wolsey, in conjunction with the archbishop of Canterbury, or any other bishop, to examine, juridically, the validity of the marriage and the dispensations, on which it was founded, is dated, the 13th of April, 1528. On the 15th of July, the following year, the pope annulle
annulled, by his bull, the power of the commissioners; and evoked the cause to Rome. On the 23d of May, 1533, Cranmer, then archbishop of Canterbury, declared the marriage null. On the 14th day of the following November, Henry publicly married Anne Boleyn. One child, Elizabeth, afterwards queen of England, was the issue of this marriage. On the 23d of May, 1534, the pope. pronounced the marriage between Henry and Katharine to be valid. On the 6th day of January, 1536, Katharine died.
Observations on the lawfulness of the Marriage of
Henry the eighth with queen Katharine.
The circumstance of the lawfulness, according to the Christian dispensation, of the marriage between Henry and Katharine,—considering it as the abstract question of a marriage between a brother and his brother's widow, -was certainly attended with considerable difficulties. The unlawfulness of such a marriage, by the injunctions in the Levitical law, admitted of no doubt. But, were these injunctions of the Levitical law adopted into the Christian code? If they were,—then, besides being a rule of the Christian economy, were they also a rule of the natural law ? If so,—could they admit of dispensation ? On each of these points, opinions were divided. It is certain, that doubts had been entertained of the lawfulness of the marriage, before Henry's scruples had provoked the discussion : this is evident from several circumstances : 1. Henry the seventh caused prince Henry, as soon as he
of age, to enter a protest against it; 2. And, on his death-bed, charged the prince not to make the alliance. 3. At the council, held upon it, after the death of Henry the seventh, some members, particularly Warham, the archbishop of Canterbury,
declared, at first, against it. 4. When the espousal of the princess Mary, the daughter of Henry, with Charles the fifth, was proposed to the states of Castile, they objected to it, the doubts, which were entertained of the validity of Henry's marriage with Katharine. 5. When the negotiations were opened with France, for betrothing the princess Mary to Francis the first, or the duke of Orleans, the bishop of Tarbe, the French ambassador, made the same objection. 6. And although the unlaw. ful practices, which were used in order to prevail, both on communities and on individuals, to pronounce in favour of the invalidity of the marriage, detract greatly from their weight-yet, it must be admitted, that several, who objected to it, were men of worth, and learning. The better opinion, however, appears to have been favourable to the marriage.
The generality of those, who pronounced for its validity, grounded their opinion upon the supposition, that the marriage between prince Arthur and Katharine had not been consummated. At the hearing of the cause, evidence was adduced to prove the consummation. But the assertion of Katharine before the king, and the legates, at the hearing of the cause, -that her virgin honour was unstained, when the monarch received her to his bed; her solemn, and affecting, appeal to Henry himself for the truth of her declaration ; and his not denying it,-added to her high character, and exemplary conduct, through life,-to which the monarch himself bore repeated testimony,-leave, in the writer's opinion, no doubt of the truth of her alle. gations.
Those, who wish to examine the detail of this important event in English history, should, besides the authors usually consulted, peruse “ Le Grand's “ Histoire du Divorce de Henry VIII, roy d'Angle“ terre et de Catharine d'Arragon, avec la Defense “ de Sanderus; La Refutation des deux premieres “ Livres de l'Histoire de la Reformation de M. “ Burnet: Et les Preuves. Paris, 3 vol. 8vo. 66 1688."
Sentence pronounced by Clement the seventh for the validity of the Marriage with Henry the eighth with Katharine.
It has been mentioned, that, on the 15th July, 1529, Clement the seventh, who then filled the papal chair, evoked the cause of the divorce to Rome. At the end of five years, the cause appeared to verge to a conclusion. The pope, at the earnest solicitation of Francis the first, then gave his solemn assurance, that, if Henry would send a proxy to Rome, and submit his cause to the holy see, he would appoint commissioners to meet at Cambray, and pronounce a final sentence.' Bellay, bishop of Paris, was sent by Francis to the English monarch, to apprise him of this circumstance, and to exhort him to submission. The prelate reached London, in the beginning of December; and about the beginning of the following February, arrived at Rome, with such an answer, as Francis had suggested.
But the answer was verbal ; and the pope required a written agreement, to the same purport, signed by, Henry himself; promising that, on its receipt, the proceeding, which was required, should take place. Messengers were accordingly sent; and a day was appointed for their return. Every thing then seemed to prognosticate an amicable conclusion. Rainie, the French agent at Rome, was persuaded, that Henry would gain his cause; and expressed himself to this effect, in a dispatch to the grand-master, Montmorency. But the courier, who carried the king's written promise, was detained beyond the day appointed; and, in the mean time, such intelligence had been brought to Rome, as induced the pope
to believe, that no courier was to be expected. Upon this, a consistory was assembled; and the pope pronounced sentence;-declaring, that the marriage of Henry with Katharine was valid ; and that the former should incur excommunication, in case he should refuse to adhere to it.—This memorable sentence was pronounced, on the 23d of March, 1534.
From the letters of the bishops of Paris, and Mascou, cited by le Grand, (vol. 1. p. 274), it appears, that, immediately after the first intelligence of the sentence, those prelates waited upon his holiness, and remonstrated against it; that they found him much concerned at the step, which, he said, he had been obliged to take ; and that he assured them, that in opposition to the advice of many cardinals, he had suspended the signification of the sentence, until the ensuing Easter. It must be added, that, if the courier brought with him any