It took nearly 480 years, but Henry VIII’s petition to the Vatican for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon has finally been made public. (Compare that to a typical California divorce case where the documents are available to the public almost instantly.) After languishing in a drawer in the Vatican’s Secret Archives until the 1920’s, an Italian firm has been painstakingly reproducing the letter and now plans to produce 200 of them at a rate of three per month.
However, at a cost of nearly $83,000 (£50,000) per copy, the price of a replica of the ancient parchment remains out of the reach of most ordinary people and be limited to museums and collectors. The parchment contains 81 wax seals and weighs in at 5-1/2 pounds (2.5 kg).
In 1530, members of England’s House of Lords sent a parchment to Pope Clement VII in support of his desire for a divorce. At the time, the monarch was obsessed with producing a male heir to the British throne with Anne Boleyn, as he had been unable to do so with his wife. Boleyn was not satisfied with merely being the king’s mistress and thus, one of the most famous stories about “the other woman” was born.
In the wake of the Vatican’s refusal to grant Henry VIII a divorce, the English king broke with Rome and subsequently installed himself as the leader of the Church of England. To many historians, this is the most defining and important event in English history.
“This is the moment at which England ceases to be a normal European Catholic country and goes off on this strange path that leads it to the Atlantic, to the new world, to Protestantism, to Euro-skepticism,” said David Starkey, a British historian and expert in the Tudor family in a recent interview with AP Television News. The story appears in the Associated Press.
For more information about California family law issues, please contactattorney Gary D. Sparks.