On this day in history during 1536 the Parliament of England “passed An Act Extinguishing the Authority of the Bishop of Rome. This Act was wordily insulting to the pope, but contained within it the power to punish anybody defending his authority in Britain. It was a step that for Henry’s reign at least ended all possibility of reconciliation with Rome.”
Now Henry VIII was not only saying he was head of the Church of England, he was saying anyone wanting to still embrace papal authority and Catholicism would be in deep poo. Quite a change of opinion in the monarch who was the erstwhile defender of the faith in 1521, no? Henry had changed quite a bit in the intervening fifteen years. For one thing he had recently beheaded his wife Anne Boleyn, the woman he was fighting the Papacy about in the first place.
As far back as 1528 Henry’s chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey tried desperately to warn the Pope that if he did not grant Henry his divorce, then the King would reject Rome’s authority. The Pope apparently thought that the Cardinal was bluffing because Wolsey just worried about his place in Henry’s court. The Defender of the Faith wouldn’t really turn apostate! The idea was ridiculous! In hindsight, the Pope should have listened to Wolsey’s advice. Wolsey’s greater knowledge of Henry’s nature had forewarned him that the King was not a man who would submit himself to any authority that was not directing him to do exactly what he had wanted to do in the first place. Sure enough, when push came to shove – Henry VIII shoved.