Thursday, June 22, 2017

Question from Tanya - Excommunication of Henry VIII

I was curious about the excommunication that the Pope carried out against Henry VIII. It is said that when a Prince is excommunicated from the Holy Church, his reign is made invalid. Is this true? & If so, was there anyone that attempted to userp the throne from Henry VIII? Thank you in Advance!

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

A tradition existed for many centuries in Christian Europe whereby coronations of any monarch were conducted by a high-ranking priest, usually an archbishop or cardinal, of the only church that wielded real power prior to 1500: the Roman Catholic Church. And as part of the coronation ritual, monarchs were usually anointed by the priest, conferring upon those monarchs certain spiritual powers and advantages not otherwise held by ordinary laymen. And as the Roman Catholic Church believed it could confer powers, it also believed it could revoke those powers. Priests could always be “defrocked” and stripped of their rights and powers as priests. Thus when Henry VIII defied the Roman Church and revoked any allegiance to the governing authority of the Roman Church, that governing authority (the Papacy) attempted to revoke Henry’s status as someone anointed of God to rule. Roman Catholics within England were released by the Church from any obligation to Henry VIII and no longer required to obey him. But the Roman Church lacked any kind of effective enforcement mechanism within England, whereas Henry VIII was very effective at enforcing obedience. Therefore, if an Englishman rose against Henry VIII as King of England, he might have the moral support of the Roman Catholic Church, but he would entirely lack any legal or practical support. The Roman Catholic Church was effectively powerless to enforce its own will in England after passage of the Act of Supremacy. So while the Vatican might prefer not to officially recognize Henry VIII as King of England, the Vatican's position had no real effect within England. Henry VIII’s reign remained “valid” because the people of England continued to recognize and accept him as their true monarch. The Roman Church was powerless to change that.