The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon: The Story as Told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII

By J. A. Froude | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX.

Danger of challenging the Papal dispensing power -- The Royal family of Spain -- Address of the English Peers to the Pope -- Compromise proposed by the Duke of Norfolk -- The English Agents at Rome -- Arrival of a new Nuncio in England -- His interview with the King -- Chapuys advises the King's excommunication -- Position of the English clergy -- Statute of Provisors -- The clergy in a Præmunire -- Remonstrances of the Nuncio -- Despair of Catherine -- Her letter to the Pope -- Henry prepares for war -- The introduction of briefs from Rome forbidden -- Warnings given to the Spanish Ambassador and the Nuncio.

THE question whether the Pope had power to license marriages within the forbidden degrees affected interests immeasurably wider than the domestic difficulties of Henry VIII. Innumerable connections had been contracted, in reliance upon Papal dispensations, the issue of which would be illegitimate if the authority was declared to be insufficient. The Emperor himself was immediately and personally concerned. Emmanuel of Portugal had been three times married. His first wife was Isabel, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, Catherine's sister and Charles's aunt. His second wife was her sister Maria; his third, Charles's sister Eleanor. Charles's own Empress was the child of the second of these marriages, and they had all been contracted under dispensations from Rome. A sudden change of the law or the recognition in a single instance that the Pope's authority in such matters might be challenged would create universal disturbance; and it was not for Catherine's sake alone that the Emperor

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