Category Archives: Mary I

On this day in 1518 – Princess Mary and the Dauphin of France were betrothed

As part of the Treaty of London, signed on 28th February 1518, an agreement was made that would betroth Princess Mary of England and the Dauphin of France two betrothal ceremonies would take place on in England, on 5th October, the second in Paris on 16th December.

Treaty of LondonThe Treaty of London

On 5th December 1518 the two year old Princess Mary was taken to the court at Greenwich and presented to the French Maryambassadors. Standing in for the French Dauphin was Guillaume Gouffier, Lord Admiral of France. Mary was dressed in a gown of gold cloth and a cap made of black cloth that covered her auburn hair, she was also covered in jewels.

Mary was stood in front of her mother, Katherine of Aragon, until the ceremony began and she was held up to participate. The French ambassador asked for Henry and Katherine’s consent to the marriage, which also meant Mary’s consent. After the royal parents gave their consent the Princess’ godfather, Cardinal Wolsey, presented the Lord Admiral with a Diamond ring which he then placed on the young Princess’ hand.

Mary who behaved throughout the ceremony believed that the Lord Admiral was the Dauphin and asked ‘Are you the Dauphin of France? If you are, I wish to kiss you.’

DauphinFollowing the first betrothal Mary would begin French lessons, the French ambassadors would check on her progress. Mary would never meet the Dauphin as King Henry VIII did not take her to the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 although King Francis took the Dauphin along. Henry eventually broke the betrothal the following year in 1521 when he betrothed Mary to Charles V instead.

Above right: Princess Mary

Left: the Dauphin of France

On this day in 1553 – Queen Mary I was coronated

On 1st October 1553 Queen Mary I was proclaimed Queen of England at Westminster Abbey, after a turbulent childhood spending years out of favour with her father, King Henry VIII following his divorce from Katherine of Aragon.

At 11am Mary was led by the Bishop of Winchester, gentlemen, knights and councillors including the Earl of Arundel carrying the ball and sceptre, the Marquess of Winchester carrying the orb and the Duke of Norfolk carrying the crown. Mary was dressed traditionally wearing the state robes of crimson velvet that her male ancestors would have worn to their coronation. A canopy was carried over the Queen by the barons of the Cinque Ports as she walked along a raised walkway to the coronation chair.

Bishop Stephen Gardiner presided over the coronation instead of the Archbishop of Canterbury, this was because Mary viewed the Archbishop as her enemy due to his Protestant beliefs therefore Gardiner and his Catholic ways was a safer bet. Gardiner began the coronation by saying;

Sirs, Here present is Mary, rightful and undoubted inheritrix by the Laws of God and man to the Crown and Royal Dignity of this realm of England, France and Ireland, whereupon you shall understand that this day is appointed by all the peers of this land for the consecration, injunction and coronation of the said most excellent Princess Mary; will serve you at the time and give your wills and assent to the same consecration, unction and coronation?”

The congregation replied ‘Yea, yea, yeah! God save Queen Mary!’

Mary then prostrated herself on a velvet cushion in front of the altar whilst prayers were said over her. Following this the Bishop of Chichester, George Day, preached a sermon about the obedience owed to a monarch. Mary then made her oaths and whilst the choir sang Veni Creator Spiritus Mary laid prostrate in front of the high altar.

Following this Mary and her ladies prepared the new Queen for her anointing, Mary returned dressed in a purple velvet petticoat and lay in front of the altar as she was anointed with holy oil on her shoulders, forehead, temple and breast by Bishop Gardiner. Mary did not wish to use the oils that had been consecrated by her brother’s ministers as she viewed them as heretical therefore Mary had the Bishop of Arras in Brussels send untainted oils.

After redressing herself with the robes of state Mary was handed the sword, sceptre and orbs, Mary was in fact handed two sceptres during her coronation; the first was the one handed to all past Kings and the second was one that was bearing a dove which was traditionally handed to the Queen Consort this second sceptre would have been handed to Mary’s mother, Katherine of Aragon. After she was handed these items of state Mary was crowned firstly with the crown of Edward the Confessor, then the Imperial Crown and finally a smaller custom made crown. Finally the ermine furred crimson mantle was placed around her shoulders and nobles approached the new Queen to pay their respects whilst she was seated in the coronation chair.

The coronation ended at 4pm with Mary proceeding to Westminster Hall for the coronation banquet and the beginning of her reign. During her coronation banquet Sir Edmund Dymoke appeared on horseback dressed in full armour and flung his gauntlet down and threw open a challenge and proclaimed himself as the Queen’s champion. Mary in gratitude gave Dymoke her gold drinking cup filled with wine. Mary was served over 312 dishes at her banquet with 7,112 served to the entire court. Nearly 4,900 dishes were recorded as waste and distributed to the Londoners that were outside the Hall hoping to catch a glimpse of the new Queen.

Coronation_of_Mary_ICoronation of Queen Mary I

On this day in 1553 – Queen Mary I began her coronation procession from the Tower of London to Whitehall

After years of not knowing what her future held at 3pm on 30th September 1553 Queen Mary I began her coronation procession from the Tower of London and made her way to Whitehall where she would stay overnight before being proclaimed Queen the next day. Mary and the procession left the Tower to the bells of churches ringing and gun fire.

The procession consisted of the Queen’s messengers, trumpeters, heralds, bannerets, esquires of the body, Knights of the Bath which included 15 that had been newly created that morning, the clergy, merchants, soldiers, knights, foreign ambassadors and the council. Following all of these came Mary’s retinue that included the Earl of Sussex who was acting as Mary’s Chief Server, Stephen Gardiner and William Paulet carrying the seal and mace, the Lord Mayor of London carrying the gold sceptre, the Sergeant at Arms and the Earl of Arundel carrying the Queen’s sword there was also ‘two ancient knights with old-fashioned hats, powdered on their heads, disguised’ who represented the Dukes of Normandy and Guienne.

Behind all of these came the new Queen in an open litter pulled by six horses in white trappings. It was reported that she was ‘richly apparelled with mantle and kirtle of cloth of gold’ with a gold tinsel cloth and jewelled crown on her head. Mary was escorted by the mother of Edward Courtenay and the wives of the Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Arundel and Sir William Paulet all on horseback. Behind them was a carriage carrying Mary’s younger sister, Princess Elizabeth and their former step mother, Anne of Cleves.

The procession would travel a mile and a half across London and there was entertainment at every turn including; a civic pageantry at Temple Bar, verses sung in praise of the new queen at Cornhill and Cheap, Queen Mary was address at St Paul’s by the recorder of London and was presented with a purse containing 1000 marks of gold by the chamberlain and an oration in Latin and English was delivered by playwright John Heywood at the school in St Paul’s Churchyard and finally minstrels played at Ludgate.

Mary reached Whitegate where she would prepare for her coronation the following day at Westminster Abbey.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1553 – Queen Mary I rode into London with Elizabeth.

On 3rd August 1553 Queen Mary I rode into London after being proclaimed Queen, she rode alongside her Elizabeth, her half sister. They travelled from Wanstead to Aldgate where Mary was greeted by the Lord Mayor of London who handed her ‘the scepter perteyninge to the office’ Mary handed the sceptre back to the Lord Mayor and entered the city followed by Sir Anthony Browne, the Duchess of Norfolk, Marquess of Exeter and in front of Mary travelled the Lord Major with the sceptre and the Earl of Arundel holding the sword of state.

The party passed St Botolph’s Church where the children of the local Christ’s hospital greeted the new Queen and they passed through Leadenhall towards Gracechurch Street and Fenchurch Street then down Mark Lane before arriving at the Tower of London. It was at the Tower that Mary was met by Sir John Gage, the Constable of the Tower and Thomas Bruges who welcomed the Queen into the Tower. Inside the Tower Mary was also greeted by the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Gardiner and Edward Courtenay.

The chronicler Wriothesley wrote about the day by starting with Mary’s appearance;

her gowne of purple velvet French fashion, with sleues of the same, hir kirtle purple satten all thicke sett with gouldsmithes work and great pearle, with her foresleues of the same set with rich stones, with a rich bowdricke of goulde, pearle, and stones about her necke, and a riche billement of stones and great pearle on her hoode, her pallfray that she rode on richly trapped with gould embrodred to the horse feete.”

Wriothesley continued by talking about the city of London and how the new Queen was greeted;

“All the streates in London, from Algate up to Leadenhall, and so to the Tower, were richly hanged with clothes of arras and silke, the streates gravelled all the way, and the citizens standing at rayles with theyr streamers and banners of eury Company or occupation standing at theyr rayles, eury Company in their best liueryes with theyr hoodes. Allso there were iiii great stages between Algate and the Tower where clarkes and musicians stoode playing and singing goodly ballets which rejoysed the Quene’s highnes greatly. Allso there was such a terrible and great shott of guns shot within the Tower and all about the Tower wharf that the lyke hath not bene hard, for they neuer ceased shootinge from the tyme her highnes entred in at Algate til she came to Marke Lane ende, which was like great thunder, so that yt had bene lyke to an earthquake. And all the streets by the way as her highnes rode standing so full of people shoutinge and cryinge Jesus saue her Grace, with weepinge teares for joy, that the lyke was neuer seen before. “

Mary’s arrival in London marks the start of her reign as Queen.

Mary I arriving in LondonQueen Mary I arriving in London with Elizabeth

by John Byam

On this day in 1554 – Queen Mary I married Prince Philip of Spain

On 25th July 1554 Queen Mary I married Philip of Spain, the son of her cousin, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Philip was the heir apparent to many countries across Europe and the New World so was an appealing match, as part of the marriage negotiations 37 year old Mary was sena portrait of her new husband to be.

The marriage proposal was unpopular in England and led to many of Mary’s advisors urging her to marry an Englishman. A rebellion also broke out led by Thomas Wyatt the younger led a small army from Kent in an attempt to place Elizabeth on the throne. The biggest fear that many of the rebels held was that whoever Mary married would instantly become King of England and assume all the powers of the monarchy. This led to Mary introducing Queen Mary’s Marriage Act.

Under the terms of the Marriage Act Philip would be called King of England and enjoy the honours that are associated with the title, also all official documents including any Acts of Parliament would be signed by both Mary and Philip and Philip was to co-rule England alongside Mary but the majority of the royal authority still fell to Mary. The Act did prohibit Philip from appointing foreigners to any English office and was unable to take Mary or any child they may have outside of England. The Act also stopped the crown automatically passing to Mary if she died before him. Philip was unhappy with the terms of the Act but nonetheless agreed in order to go ahead with the marriage.

Philip did not view the marriage as one made for romance but instead as political and strategic. Philip’s aide wrote, “it will take a great God to drink this cup the king realises that the marriage was concluded for no fleshy consideration, but in order to remedy the disorders of this kingdom and to preserve the Low Countries.”

The marriage took place at Winchester Cathedral, just two days after they had met for the first time. Philip did not speak any English and so the couple conversed using a mixture of Spanish, French and Latin.

The wedding ceremony was presided over by Bishop Gardiner with Philip arriving at 10am wearing ‘His breeches and doublet were white, the collar of the doublet exceeding rich, and over all a mantle or rich cloth of gold, a present from the Queen…this robe was ornamented with pearl and precious stones; and wearing the collar of the Garter”

Mary wore a gown in the French style of ‘rich tissue with a border and wide sleeves, embroidered upon purple satin, set with pearls of our store, lined with purple taffeta’. Mary’s gown also had a high collar, a kirtle of white satin, a train and was embroidered with silver.

Mary arrived at Winchester Cathedral at 10.30 and was preceded by the Earl of Derby who was carrying the sword of state. Mary was given away by the Marquess of Winchester and the Earls of Derby, Pembroke and Bedford, who took on the role on England’s behalf. Bishop Gardiner began the service by announcing that Charles V had given his son and his new bride the kingdom of Naples as well as a short speech regarding the Marriage Act. The service was conducted in both Latin and English in order for both countries to understand the proceedings. During the service a small band of gold was placed upon the bible along with the traditional three handfuls of gold from both the bride and groom before the ring was placed upon Mary’s hand.

As the marriage was completed heralds took to the street to declare;

Philip and Mary, by the grace of God king and queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem and Ireland, defenders of the faith, princes of Spain and Sicily, archdukes of Austria, dukes of Milan, Burgundy and Brabant, counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tyrol.”

With the ceremony completed the wedding party returned to Bishop Gardiner’s palace for a feast and an evening of entertainment and dancing before the couple were taken for the consummation of their marriage.

Mary was clearly in love with her new husband and soon wrote to her cousin, Charles V of her happiness;

I will only offer to your majesty all that my small powers enable me to give, always praying God so as to inspire my subjects that they may realise the affection you bear this kingdom and the honour and advantages you have conferred upon it by this marriage and alliance, which renders me happier than I can say, as I daily discover in the king, my husband and your son, so many virtues and perfections that I constantly pray God to grant me grace to please him and behave in all things as befits one who is so deeply embounden to him…”

Mary and PhilipMary I and Philip of Spain

On this day in 1553 – Mary Tudor proclaimed Queen of England

On 19th July 1553 Henry VIII’s first born child was declared Queen of England following the death of her younger half brother, Edward.

Mary route to the throne was not easy as Edward in his will declared Lady Jane Grey as his heir, contravening what Henry VIII had laid out in the Third Act of Succession. However, Mary strongly believed that she was the rightful heir and began gathering support.

On 18th July the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel had called a Privy Council meeting to convince fellow members that Mary had a legitimate claim to the throne and it was Mary not Jane that was the rightful Queen. It took until the following day to convince all the members that they should support Mary’s claim. Pembroke even went as far as drawing his sword and cried to the others “If the arguments of my lord Arundel do not persuade you, this sword shall make Mary queen, or I will die in her quarrel.”

With the rest of the council now backing Mary Pembroke went out amongst the people of London later that day and proclaimed;

“The xix. day of the same monyth, was sent Margarettes evyne, at iiij. of clocke at after-none was proclaimyd lady Mary be qwene of Ynglond at the crose in Cheppe with the erle of Shrewsbery, the earle of Arundel, the erle of Pembroke, with the mayer of London, and dyvers other lords, and many of the aldermen and the kynges schrffe master Garrand, with dyvers haroldes and trompettes. And from thens cam to Powlees alle, and there the qwene sange Te Deum with the organs goynge, with the belles ryngynge, the most parte alle, and that same nyght had the parte of London Te Deum, with bone-fyers in every street in London, with good church, and for the most parte alle nyght tyll the nexte daye to none.”

Mary was unaware of the change of support from the council and that they had proclaimed her the rightful Queen of England until the following day when William Paget and the Earl of Arundel arrived at Framlingham with the news.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1553 – Lady Mary Tudor declared herself Queen

After King Edward VI’s death the country was left unsure of its future, the young King had declared just days before his death that he wished his cousin Lady Jane Grey to succeed to the throne upon his death, however, this contradicted his fathers, King Henry VIII, Third Act of Succession which declared if Edward died with no children then the throne would go to the Lady Mary, Henry’s daughter with Katherine of Aragon.

Mary had been informed of her half brother’s death on 7th July 1553 at Euston Hall, Thetford where she was staying with Lady Burgh. Mary travelled to her home at Kenninghall, Norfolk and declared to her household that the King had died and therefore “the right to the crown of England had therefore descended to her by divine and by human law.” Her household proclaimed Mary Queen of England, unaware of what Edward had done to alter the line of succession.

With the belief that Mary was the rightful Queen she wrote to the Privy Council informing them that she was to be recognised as Queen and to “casue our right and title to the crown and government of this realm to be proclaimed in our city of London and other places as your wisdom shall seem good.”

Little did Mary know that she would have to fight for her crown over the coming days.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1536 – Lady Mary submitted to the King.

On 22nd June 1536 Lady Mary Tudor finally submitted to her father, King Henry VIII, and accepted him as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and the invalidity of his marriage to her mother, Katherine of Aragon. Mary was a staunch Catholic and to recognise Henry’s split from Rome and the head of a new church would have been something that Mary had struggled with. However, a visit from Henry’s council just a week earlier where they threatened her must have weighed heavy on her mind and combined with council from the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, Mary came to her decision and wrote to her father;

“Moste humbly prostrate before the feete of Your most excellent Majestie, your most homble, faythefull, and obediente subjecte, which hath so extremely offended Your most gratyous Highnes, that my heavie and fearfull hert dare not presume to calle you Father, ne Your Majesty hathe any cause by my desertes, saving the benignetye of your most blessed nature dothe surmounte all evelles offences and trespasses, and is ever mercyfulle and redy to accepte the penytente callynge for grace, in any convenyente tyme. Havinge received this Thursdaye, at nighte, certene letteresfrom Mr. Secreatary, aswell advisying me to make my homble submyssyone immedyatly to your selfe, which because I durste not, without your gravyous licence, presume to doe befor, I latly sente unto him, as sygnefyenge that your moste mercyfull harte and fatherly pyttye had graunted me your blessyng, with condissyone that I should persevere in that I had commenced and begoone; and that I should not eftsones offend Your Majesty by the denyall or reffusalle of any suche articles and commaundementes, as it maye please Your Highenes to addresse unto me, for the perfite trial of myne harte and inward affectyone, for the parfait declaration of the bottome of my herte and stomake.

 

Fyrste, I knowledge my selft to have most unkyndly and unnaturally offended Your most excellent Highenes, in that I have not submitted myselfe to your moste juste and virtuous laws; and for myne offence thearin, which I must confesse wear in me a thousand folde more grievous, then they could be in any other lyving creature, I put myselfe holly and entirely to your gratyous mercy; at whos hands I cannot receave that punishment for the same, that I have derserved.


Secondly, to opene my herte to Your Grace, in theis thinges, which I have heartofore refused to condiscend unto, and have nowe writtene with myne owne hand, sending the same to Your Highenes hearwith; I shall never beseeche Your Grace to have pyttye and compassion of me, yf ever you shall perceave that I shall prively or appertly, vary or alter from one pece of that I have writtene and subscribed, or refuse to confyrme, ratefy, or declare the same, wher Your Majesty shall appointe me.

 

Thurdly, as I have and shall, knowinge your excelent learnynge, vertue, wisdom, and knoledge, put my soulle into your directyone; and, by the same, hathe and will, in all thinges, from hence foarthe directe my consyence, or my body I do holly commyte to your mercye and fatherlye pyttye; desiringe no state, no condissyone, nor no mannore degre of lyvinge, but suche as Your Grace shall appoynte unto me; knoledging and confessynge, that my state cane not be so ville, as ether the extremity of justice wold appoynte unto me, or as myne offences have required and deserved. And what soever Your Grace shall comaunde me to doe, touching any of theyse pointes, ethere for thinges paste, presente, or to come, I shall as gladly doe the same, as Your Majestie cane comaund me. Moste homblye, therefor, beseeching your mercy, most gratyous Soveraine Lord and benign Father, to have pyttye and compassion of your myserable and sorrowfull child; and, with the aboundance of your inestymable goodnes, so to overcome my iniquitie towards God, Your Grace, and your holle realme, as I maye feele some sensyble tokene of reconsyllyation; which, God is my judge, I onely desyre, without other respect, to whome I shall dayly praye for the preservation of Your Highenes, with the Queenes Grace, and that it may please him to send you issue. From Hownsdon, this Thursdaye, at 11 of the clocke at nighte.

 

Your Graces moste humble and obedient Daughter and Handmayd,

Marye.”

Marys letterRemains of Lady Mary’s letter to King Henry VIII

On this day in 1536 – Henry VIII’s councillors sent to bully Lady Mary into accepting Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church.

After the death of Anne Boleyn King Henry VIII pressed ahead with the Reformation and insisted to be the Supreme Head of the Church. One person that was still reluctant to acknowledge this along with Henry’s insistence that his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon was not legal was his daughter Mary. By acknowledging these demands Mary would be condemning the memory of her mother and also her own illegitimacy.

On 15th June 1536 member of Henry’s Privy Council led by the Duke of Norfolk arrived at Mary’s home in Hunsdon to coerce Mary to agree to Henry’s demands and was promised with reconciliation with her father if she did.

Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador and close to Mary and her late mother, wrote to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V about the visit;

To induce her to obey his commands and accede to his wishes, the King sent to her a deputation composed of the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Sussex, the bishop of Chester, and several others, whom she literally confounded by her very wise and prudent answers to their intimation. Upon which, finding that they could not persuade her, one of them said that since she was such an unnatural daughter as to disobey completely the King’s injunctions, he could hardly believe thatshe was the King’s own bastard daughter. Were she his or any other man’s daughter, he would beat her to death, or strike her head against the wall until he made it as soft as a boiled apple; in short that she was a traitress, and would be punished as such. Many other threats of the same sort did the said deputies utter on the occasion, assisted in their task by the Princess’ governess, who happens to be the same as before, having then and there received orders not to allow the Princess to speak a word to any one, and to watch over her so that she should never be left alone by night or day.”

Chapuys went on to say that he advised Mary to submit to her father’s demands;

I have written to her fully and in detail, advising, among other things, that, should the King, her father, obstinately persist in his determination should she herself hear from friends at Court or elsewhere that her life was really in danger through ill-treatment or in some other way, my opinion was that she ought to obey her father’s commands, assuring her at the same time that such was Your Majesty’s advice and wish. That in order to save her own life, on which the tranquillity of this kingdom and the reform of the many great disorders and abuses by which it is troubled entirely depended, it was necessary that she should make all manner of sacrifices, and dissemble for some time to come, the more so that the protest previously signed and the cruel violence used were quite sufficient to preserve her inviolable right, and at same time relieve her conscience, inasmuch as there was nothing in it against God nor against the articles of Faith. That God looked more into the intentions than into the deeds of men, and now she had a better opportunity than when the King’s concubine was alive, since there was a question of depriving the bastard and making her heir to the Crown. I was certain that, should she go to Court, she might by her prudence and wisdom be able to lead the King, her father, to the right path, availing herself of Your Majesty’s valuable intercession after your probable reconciliation with him. Many other similar things have I written and inculcated upon the Princess in order to persuade her that the best course for her to pursue in case of unusual violence is to yield for the present to the King’s wishes.

Thank God that the judges, notwithstanding all manner of threats were unwilling to take a resolution in the affair, and advised that a paper should be sent to the Princess for her to sign, and if she still refused that legal proceedings should then be instituted against her; otherwise I do not know what might have happened. At last the Princess, hearing from several reliable quarters how matters stood, signed the paper without reading it, which will be in future one of the best excuses she can offer. I need scarcely tell Your Majesty that I had beforehand sent her the formula of the protest for her to write down, and sign separately. I had likewise warned her to make sure first that by complying with her father’s wishes she will be quickly restored to his grace and favour; that I should never have advised her to sign the paper in question save with the perfect understanding that she was not acting against God and her conscience, or again that she could very well promise not to contravene the statutes without in anywise granting them her approval. I do not know yet how the Princess has come out of the difficulty, but whatever has been done I am confident that she has not disregarded my advice. Indeed had she allowed this opportunity to pass there would have been no remedy in her case. As soon as it was known that the Princess had actually signed the paper, there was incredible joy throughout the Court, save in the case of the earl of Essex, who said to the King, “That is a sort of game the playing of which will in time cost me my head, were it for no other reason than the injurious words I addressed to her on the occasion.” Innumerable people, moreover, have sent me their congratulations at the reconciliation of the Princess with the King, her father.”

Chapuys went on to add at the end of his report;

It appears, however, that after signing the paper as above said, the Princess fell suddenly into a state of despondency and sorrow; but I have since removed all her conscientious scruples by assuring her that not only will the Pope not condemn her action, but will highly approve of it under the circumstances.”

Mary was being asked to go against everything she believed in in order to be reconciled with her father.

Chapuys signatureEustace Chapuys signature

On this day in 1536 – Second Act of Succession passed by Parliament

The Second Act of Succession was passed by the English Parliament on 8th June 1536. It had two names at the time ‘An Act concerning the Succession of the Crown’ and ‘Succession to the Crown: Marriage Act 1536’.

The Act was introduced to Parliament following the execution of Anne Boleyn and the new marriage of King Henry VIII to Jane Seymour that had all happened within the previous month.

The new act replaced the First Act of Succession, which was passed in March 1534. In this act as well as Mary still being illegitimate it also declared Elizabeth to now be illegitimate and both were ruled out of the succession. Both girls lost the right to be called Princess and had to be referred to as Lady. Any children that Henry would have with his new Queen, Jane would be the rightful heir to the throne.

The Act however, left Henry with no legitimate children for the time and therefore no heir to the throne. The Act did cover this by declaring that it gave Henry ‘full and plenary power and authority’, which meant that if he still had no legitimate child when the time came to write his will then he could name his successor in letters patent or in his last will and testament.

As well as dealing with the line of succession it also made it an offence to any person who said that either of Henry’s first two marriages to Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn were valid or even if someone said Mary or Elizabeth were legitimate. It was also punishable if anyone criticised the sentence passed on Sir Thomas More who was executed for refusing to take the previous oath regarding the succession. If an offense was committed then that person could be charged with high treason and punished.

The Act also required subjects to take an oath to uphold the Act and again it was treason to refuse. Any one accused of treason was not able to seek sanctuary and therefore had nowhere to hide. If accused and convicted of treason then the death penalty could be passed.

Henry and Jane were delivered a son, Edward, in October 1537 and this act meant that he was, from birth, the rightful heir to the English throne.

Henry VIII and familyKing Henry VIII surrounded by his children.