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The Split with Rome

The Split with Rome in 1534 occurred as a result of King Henry VIII's desire to divorce and remarry. Henry had been married to Catherine of Aragon since 1509 and she had borne Henry no male heir. Henry was anxious to have a son, who would become King upon his death. In order to secure the succession Henry wanted to remarry and he had fallen in love with a young courtier called Anne Boleyn.

To remarry Henry would need to get the permission of the pope who was the head of the catholic church. The Pope though was warned by King Charles V of Spain that he would be very unhappy if the divorce went ahead. Spain were a very powerful Catholic country and the Pope was reluctant to upset the Spanish King. Likewise the Pope didn't want to upset Henry as he too was a very powerful man who had, until now, been a very useful ally of the churches. The pope put off a decision.

In 1533 Henry forced the issue. Anne Boleyn was pregnant to Henry and the king knew that he must be married for the child to be legitimate. He married Anne without Rome saying that he could. The Pope, in 1534 said that Henry's marriage to Anne was illegal. Henry's reaction was to say that as King he had the right to control the way that the church was run in England and that the pope had no authority. In November 1534, parliament passed an act that made King Henry the head of the church in England. The English government had now Split with Rome.


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