THE TUDOR THEORY of subjection," Professor J. W. Allen has stated, "was fundamentally utilitarian: it has strict reference to immediate expediency and to time and place."1 The genesis and development of this doctrine of absolute nonresistance to the king have been described by Professors Allen2 and Frankin Le Van Baumer3 and require only brief summary here.
The pioneer work was William Tyndale Obedience of a Christian Man, pubished in Antwerp in 1528. The author was anxious to disprove the charge that reformers encourage disobedience to secular authority.4 Rejecting papal claims to temporal and spiritual supremacy, Tyndale argued that kings are, in effect, captives of prelates, and he enunciated a political theory the main theme of which is the divine right of kings to rule all their subjects as they choose and the subjects' unqualified obligation to obey. As a Protestant, Tyndale could hardly be accepted as a respectable writer in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who prided himself upon being Defender of the Faith. But important events were to make Tyndale's views welcome in Tudor England.
The King had sought to terminate the marriage with Catherine of Aragon since 1527, and through the offices of his Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wolsey, had exhausted every means in an attempt to have the Pope authorize the separation. Probably in 1529, the year of Wolsey's fall, Tyndale's book reached his hands. Henry is reported to have said, "This is a book for me and for all kings to read."5 The failure of Henry VIII's divorce suit led to the adoption of a new political theory: if Rome would not act favorably on the issue, let the King be recognized as head