Thomas Cromwell and the Intellectual Origins of the Henrician Revolution

The field of English Reformation studies is at present more active than ever before. New books and articles roll off the presses at a formidable pace. Yet among the familiar scholarship and revisionist new learning, however, one topic remains relatively underexplored: the intellectual origins of the ‘Henrician’ or ‘political’ revolution itself.1 The view is too often uncritically repeated that one man, Thomas Cromwell, ‘made’ or ‘was the architect of’ the these events. ‘Wherever one touches Thomas Cromwell, one finds originality and the unconventional’, writes Professor G. R. Elton.2 Regarding the Act of Appeals (1533) we are told: ‘The critical term is ’empire’. Kings of England had before this claimed to be emperors–the title occurs in Anglo-Saxon times and was taken by Edward I, Richard II, and Henry V–but the meaning here is different. Those earlier ’emperors’ had so called themselves because they ruled, or claimed to rule, more than one kingdom, as Edward I claimed Scotland and Henry V France. In the act of appeals, on the other hand, England by herself is described as an empire, and it is clear both from the passage cited and from what follows that the word here denoted a political unit, a self-governing state free from (as they put it) “the authority of any foreign potentates”. We call this sort of thing a sovereign national state.’3

This essay looks more closely at the Henrician concept of ’empire’–to examine its meaning and native intellectual origins. In doing this, the ideas that underpin the Act of Appeals must be considered, and an attempt made to locate in contemporary debate the definition attributed to ’empire’ by Henricians themselves. It then becomes possible to make a case for tracing the origins of the Tudor political revolution back to 1485, and to put forward the necessary arguments to reinforce that position as the basis of an alternative framework of interpretation.

The political creed of Thomas Cromwell, it is said, was most fully declared and expounded in the preamble to the Act in Restraint of Appeals to Rome, passed in April 1533:

‘Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same, unto whom a body politic, compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of spiritualty and temporalty, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience; he [the king] being also institute and furnished by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God with plenary, whole and entire power, preeminence, authority, prerogative and jurisdiction to render and yield justice and final determination to all manner of folk resiants or subjects within this realm, in all causes, matters, debates and contentions happening to occur, insurge or begin within the limits thereof, without restraint or provocation to any foreign princes or potentates of the world…4

Cromwell, it is said, here announced a novel theory of empire. He proclaimed the radical notion that the territorial realm of England was a sovereign national state, because all aspects of law and legislation, both temporal and spiritual, were henceforward within the exclusive competence of England’s properly constituted courts which, in turn, derived their authority from the king. Since the highest court of England was that of Parliament, an explicit feature of the Cromwellian revolution was also that the human positive law of the realm as enacted by king, lords spiritual and temporal, and commons in Parliament assembled, now enjoyed an omnicompetent supremacy over the amalgam of diverse central and local jurisdictions, both ecclesiastical and lay, which formed the Tudor constitution.

The questions to ask are, how accurate is this concept of England’s imperial status, and to what extent was it an original exercise in statecraft inspired by Thomas Cromwell? To approach the answers, it is necessary to look at two letters. Writing to Cromwell in 1535, John Stokesley, bishop of London, explained how some points he had made in an extempore sermon were those set out in the ‘king’s book’ made before ‘my going over the seas in embassy’.5 Stokesley had left England in October 1529 as an ambassador to France and Italy, and did not return until October 1530. He described how the ‘king’s book’ had been written by Edward Foxe, Nicholas de Burgo, and himself, being translated afterwards into English with changes and additions by Thomas Cranmer. The ‘king’s book’ was thought by Professors H. A. Kelly and Edward surtz to be the tract Gravissimae … censurae, a work dated April 1530 in the printer’s colophon, but demonstrably not printed until the spring of 1531. Dr. Virginia Murphy has now established conclusively, however, that the ‘king’s book’ was an earlier tract, one that lay behind the Gravissimae … censurae (so that Stokesley’s comment is explicable), but that was itself a version of the king’s own libellus submitted to Wolsey’s and Campeggio’s legatine court at Blackfriar’s in 1529. The earlier tract was called ‘Henricus Octavus’, and Dr. Murphy has found the authoritative text of it in a binding from the shop known as ‘King Henry’s binder’.6

Stokesley’s letter was written in 1535; it perhaps needs some corroboration. And there is, in fact, a second letter. Sir Thomas More, writing to Cromwell in 1534, reported in some detail how, shortly after he became lord chancellor, Henry VIII referred him to a team which was working out details of the royal divorce strategy. The team consisted of Thomas Cranmer, Edward Foxe, Edward Lee, and Nicholas de Burgo–the very same persons mentioned by Stokesley save Stokesley himself, who was, of course, away in Europe at the time. More was required to ‘confer with’ these scholars and to inform his conscience: he was unconvinced by their materials. ‘Whereupon the king’s highness being further advertised both by them and myself of my poor opinion in the matter . . . his highness graciously taking in gre my good mind in that behalf, used . . . in the prosecuting of his great matter only those . . . whose conscience his grace perceived well and fully persuaded upon that part’.7 More was excused on the issue, though Henry’s ‘great matter’ became More’s ‘matter’ too in 1534, when the king decided to test allegiance to his proceedings by means of oaths.

It is thus established that an identifiable team of royal scholars was engaged on the divorce issue in 1529 and 1530; Cranmer, Foxe, Lee, de Burgo, and Stokesley (to whom Dr. Murphy would add Stephen Gardiner, because some early drafts of ‘Henricus Octavus’ are in his handwriting) were busily raiding the libraries of London and Europe and preparing papers on current policies with the characteristic enthusiasm of intellectuals eager to display the relevance of learning to government in the interests of self-advancement. The petulant king had been dismayed by the decision of the legatine court of Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio to adjourn his case in June and July 1529 and was angry at the greater humiliation of the advocation of his suit to Rome by Pope Clement VII. He had decided to turn for support to other authorities, especially to the universities of the continent. He continued to rely on his coterie of scholars, who prepared for the printing press the ‘king’s book’.8 The pages of the main body of this work were probably ready for printing in October 1529, when Stokesley went abroad. Printing was delayed, however, until the opinions of seven leading French and Italian universities, those of Orléans, Paris, Angers, Bourges, Toulouse, Bologna, and Padua, could be included by way of a preface to the whole work. The Gravissimae … censurae was finally issued in Latin in April 1531, and an English translation by Cranmer was printed the following November under the title The determinations of the moste famous and mooste excellent vniuersities of Italy and Fraunce, that it is so vnlefull for a man to marie his brothers wyfe, that the pope hath no power to dispence therwith.9

Henry’s literary enterprises in 1529 and 1530 introduced him to important sources of knowledge: the councils of the church, the Fathers Greek and Latin, the writings of the popes, the schoolmen, and so on. The Censurae and Determinations make plain the purpose to which such learning was applied by the king. The Levitical Law that forbade a man to marry his brother’s wife was divine, not human. such incestuous relationships were also forbidden by the law of nature. If Pope Julius II had granted a dispensation to Henry VII contrary to divine and natural law, upon the strength of which Henry VIII had married Catherine of Aragon, widow of Prince Arthur, Henry VIII’s elder brother, that dispensation was invalid and the pope was no better than another human legislator who had exceeded his authority. Indeed should the pope grant a dispensation against the divine and natural law, any Christian might lawfully resist and condemn him–for this the authorities were no less than St. Augustine and St. Ambrose. If the pope erred, he was to be corrected or resisted.10

The Censurae and Determinations encapsulated ideas of 1529 and early 1530, not those preparatory to the Act of Appeals. Yet it was out of the endeavours of Henry’s research team in 1530 that remarkable ideas evolved. Henry VIII probably sat back while the Gravissimae … censurae and Determinations were in the press, though his interest in the finished product of the Determinations has been questioned, but not formally proposed, on the basis of some marginal notes in the British Library copy.11 His scholars, however, continued to work while the king reclined. In particular, they explored anew the sources used for the libellus of 1529 and the Censurae of 1531, and turned them gradually about to serve a new and revolutionary purpose. Under the direction, perhaps, of Edward Foxe, the author of the De vera differentia of 1534, and a member of the royal team since at least 1529, the king’s scholars addressed an issue bigger even than that of the divorce–the ‘true difference’ between regal and ecclesiastical power.12 Perhaps the Boleyn faction provided the momentum whereby Henry’s scholars changed the direction of their research; if so, Thomas Cromwell may have played some part in the shift, though his involvement in Henrician policy-making at any level above that of parliamentary draftsman between 1531 and 1533 remains speculative. Cranmer is a better candidate than Cromwell as agent of the research team’s new direction: already part of the team when More was obliged to ‘confer’, firmly attached to the Boleyn interest, and, with Foxe, one of the compilers of the Collectanea satis copiosa. We may suspect some truth lies behind the traditions that tell of Henry VIII’s meeting with his future archbishop at Waltham.13

It was the inquiry into regal and ecclesiastical power that paved the way for the Act of Appeals and break with Rome. During and after 1530, Henry’s scholars compiled a new source collection inspired by but distinct from that upon which ‘Henricus Octavus’ and Gravissimae … censurae were based. The new compilation was the Collectanea satis copiosa which, by September 1530, was indeed literally ‘satis copiosa’: it was adequate both in quality and quantity to be shown to the king, possibly by Edward Foxe. The document exists only in manuscript in the British Library, but the text there is an original, from which it is clear that Henry VIII himself studied the work closely. Thus Henry’s own hand is to be found in forty-six places on the manuscript, variously signifying his notes and queries, agreements or disagreements, pleasure or perplexity.14 The Collectanea was discovered and identified by Dr Graham Nicholson, who demonstrated, too, the document’s links with the Act of Appeals, the Glasse of the truthe, and Foxe’s De vera differentia.15

In fact, Henry applauded the work of his scholars, because Foxe and the others, beginning from the scriptural premises previously invoked to prove the case for Henry’s annulment of his marriage, had now validated the king’s regal power in such circumstances–not from the viewpoint of immediate need but from general theological and historical perception. Many of the sources used in the Collectanea were the same as in Gravissimae … censurae but slanted differently: the Old and New Testaments, the Fathers, church councils, learned ‘authors’, and English texts and chronicles. However, councils, Matthew Paris, William of Malmesbury, Bede, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and Anglo-Saxon laws were prominent in the Collectanea. The reason was the changed emphasis. Not only did the royal scholars aim to verify the right of the English bishops to pronounce Henry’s divorce unilaterally in England and without reference, if possible, to Rome (the policy advocated in the Glasse of the truthe in 1531 or 1532);16 but they had also conceived a revolutionary theory of English regal power, showing how kings in general, and the kings of England in particular, had exercised that power historically in handling the clergy. In short, the Collectanea imbued Henry with an ‘imperial’ sovereignty, part of which had been ‘lent’ to the priesthood by previous English monarchs. It was this thinking that underpinned the Act of Appeals.17

For instance, the authors of the Collectanea used the ancient Leges Anglorum to show that King Lucius I had in 187 A.D. become the first Christian ruler of Britain. In reality, the Leges Anglorum was a source less authoritative than it seemed, being a thirteenth-century interpolation of the so-called Leges Edwardi Confessoris. But it was a most pregnant source. It showed that the mythical Lucius had endowed the British Church with all its liberties and possessions and had then written to Pope Eleutherius asking him to transmit the Roman laws. However, the pope’s reply explained that Lucius did not need any Roman law, because he already had scripture from which he might legislate as king of Britain for both regnum and sacerdotium. The papal letter is twice quoted in full in the Collectanea, the second time immediately beneath the heading ‘Institutio officium et potestas Regum Anglie:

‘For you are vicar of God in your kingdom . . . A king is named by virtue of ruling not for having a realm. You shall be king while you rule well, but if you do otherwise the name of king shall not remain upon you, and you will lose it. The omnipotent God grant you so to rule the kingdom of Britain that you may reign with him eternally, whose vicar you are in the said realm’.18

In other words, Cranmer and Foxe were not merely justifying Henry VIII’s divorce in Collectanea satis copiosa; they were simultaneously announcing doctrines of royal supremacy and empire. The result was that Henry, as he read the Collectanea, became more convinced than ever before of the rights of his position. But not only should his suit for annulment of his marriage be dealt with promptly and in England, as he had thought previously. He must now reassert, too, the imperial status of which English kings had been deprived by the machinations of popes. For England was an empire; it had been one in the ancient British past, and English imperial jurisdiction was a theological truth which no pope could conscionably disregard.

What exactly was meant by ’empire’ in this context? Despite undoubted complexity, it is clear that the authors of the Collectanea were seeking to establish three basic principles of English regal power: secular imperium, spiritual supremacy and the right of the English Church to provincial self-determination, i.e. national independence from Rome and the papacy. Therefore, the Collectanea cited the passage of Bracton that makes the king the true sovereign because he has neither equal nor superior and is vicar of God. A phrase was, however, slanted to increase royal power.19 Next, extracts were made from chronicles in defence of Edward I’s claim to suzerainty over Scotland and Wales. Their purpose was to show that the authority of the English crown extended over other realms, and that the sum of the king’s feudal rights amounted to a right of empire. On the question of spiritual supremacy, Cranmer and Foxe relied on the spurious letter of Pope Eleutherius already quoted, describing King Lucius as ‘vicarius dei’, a position strengthened by the fact that Lucius, it was alleged, had single-handedly endowed the English Church, with the result that the clergy’s jurisdiction and standing were vindicated solely by a royal grant of lands and liberties. The implication, as with the theory of Edward I’s imperium, was that what had been granted remained inalienably in the king’s possession, and might be resumed at will by Henry VIII.20 By way of confirmation, Henry VIII, himself no mean scholar, invoked Justinian in 1531, perceiving a distinct spiritual estate comprising an emperor and his clergy, which took decisions on spiritual matters in Church Councils and promulgated them by the emperor’s authority alone.21 The Donation of Constantine, revealed to be a forgery in 1440, was also (perversely) used in Collectanea satis copiosa to show, after Marsiglio of Padua, that if the Emperor Constantine had granted the Roman Church its pre-eminent jurisdiction and temporal powers, such powers plainly could not have been granted by God and the papacy could not be a divinely ordained institution.

The third and most radical principle of English power, provincial self-determination, necessarily earned the most learned treatment at the hands of Cranmer and Foxe. By provincial self-determination was meant the right of the English Church to settle its affairs unilaterally in national synods and without reference to Rome. If this right could be satisfactorily asserted, the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage might be pronounced by the archbishop of Canterbury or the English Church in Convocation, declared nationally by letters placard or parliamentary statute, and enforced by new treason laws drawn (plausibly enough) to prevent malcontents dividing the realm over Henry VIII’s private life.22 Needless to say, the authors of the Collectanea discovered England’s right to ecclesiastical independence in the sixth canon of the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), when the precedence due to metropolitan churches was recognized. Likewise they drew Henry VIII’s attention to the Council of Toledo (589), where the bishops assembled at the command of Wambar, king of the Visigoths. Cranmer and Foxe headlined such canons as that of the sixth Council of Carthage (419), which enacted that no bishop, not even the Romanus Pontifex, shall be called ‘universal bishop’. On the same theme, Collectanea satis copiosa included predictable but invaluable material from Gallican sources, Anglo-Saxon pseudo-history, and conciliar theory, notably the view expressed at the Council of Constance (1414-18) that a future pope should reform the ‘abuses’ of appeals to Rome.

No wonder that Bishop John Fisher and Thomas More found the work of the king’s scholars unpersuasive. Yet that is aside from the present analysis. No recorded role in the making of the divorce tracts or Collectanea can be assigned to Thomas Cromwell; he was not a member of Henry’s coterie of scholars, although he had established himself as a man of business at Court by the spring of 1530, and was a member of the Council by the end of that year. By the middle of 1531 and in early 1532, Cromwell and his assistant Thomas Audley had established themselves as Henry VIII’s parliamentary draftsmen working at the king’s immediate behest.23 Indeed, in early 1533 it was Cromwell who was chiefly responsible for drafting the Act of Appeals, the principal legislative instrument of the break with Rome.24 But the draftsman of a legal document need not be the true author or architect of its content. In short, if Thomas Cranmer and Edward Foxe had attributed secular imperium, spiritual supremacy and provincial self-determination to Henry VIII and England in and after 1530, is this not perhaps the allegedly Cromwellian ‘national sovereignty’ of the Act of Appeals itself?

It thus becomes a possibility that the concept of Henry VIII’s sovereignty erected by Cranmer and Foxe in 1530 is in fact the source of that ‘revolutionary’ theory of the unitary state attributed to Thomas Cromwell in 1533. Perhaps the key that unlocks the secret is actually buried in the Act of Appeals itself, not in the text as passed, but in its preparatory drafts. In draft form, the opening passage of the Act with which this discussion commenced contained an additional section:

‘In confirmation whereof divers of the king’s most royal progenitors, kings of this said realm and empire, by the epistles from the See of Rome have been named, called and reputed the vicars of God within the same, and in their times have made and devised ordinances, rules and statutes consonant unto the laws of God by their princely power, authority and prerogative royal, as well for the due observing and executing of things spiritual as temporal within the limits of the imperial crown of this realm. So that no worldly laws, ordinances, jurisdictions or authority of any person at the beginning of the catholic faith, nor long after, was practised, experimented or put in execution within this realm, but only such as was ordained, made, derived and depended of the imperial crown of the same, for when any cause of the law divine happened to come in question or of learning then was it declared, interpret and showed by that part of the said body politic called the spiritualty, now being usually called the English Church, which always hath been reputed and also found of that sort that both for knowledge, integrity and sufficiency of number it hath been always thought, and is also at this hour sufficient and meet of itself without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons, to declare and determine all such doubts, and to administer all such offices and duties as to their room doth appertain, for the due administration whereof and to keep them from corruption and sinister affection, the king’s most noble progenitors and ancestors of the nobles of this realm hath sufficiently endowed the said church both with honour and possessions …’

The words in italics were added in one draft by Henry VIII himself, who also wrote that any foreign jurisdiction over English affairs in the past was ‘but wonly by necligence or usurpation as we take it and estime’.25

The language of this draft is inherently that of secular imperium, spiritual supremacy, and provincial self-determination, and that the basic historical manual referred to, with oblique allusion in passing to the laws the Anglo-Saxon kings, is quite specifically the passage on King Lucius and Pope Eleutherius from the Leges Anglorum as expounded in Collectanea satis copiosa. No wonder, then, that the early drafts were hastily abandoned in favour of the more arresting respectability of the preamble to the Act of Appeals as passed. To have left King Lucius unexpurgated would have been to proclaim to the world the poverty of the Henrician political alphabet — a schism which rested on pro-baronial propaganda cooked in the reign of King John. It was a sign of weakness and of Henry VIII’s desperation that the Act of Appeals as passed defined the king’s sovereignty in terms of ‘divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles’ alone. Henry VIII became rex imperator; England became an empire. But a theological and political revolution was made through necessity — Anne Boleyn’s pregnancy — to rest on an assumption that could not be made good by an agreed definition of an imperial constitution.26

Yet was the theory of ’empire’ in the Act of Appeals in any sense novel? Was it more than the sum of the parts of secular imperium, spiritual supremacy, and provincial self-determination? Was it tantamount to national sovereignty and the idea of statutory omnicompetence? Or have such modernist concepts been merely attributed to the mid-1530s by later historians and legal commentators? Certainly the issue of statutory competence aroused perceptible agony in the 1530s. Thomas More knew well enough the efforts made by the draftsmen of the Act of supremacy (1534) to avoid stating that Parliament had made Henry VIII supreme head of the Church of England, but that, rather, the king had always been supreme head and that Parliament was simply declaring an historic truth. Naturally More knew also that these efforts were futile, a point he proved definitively by being executed, not for denying the supremacy per se, but for refusing to be convinced that Parliament could do what Christendom said it could not. We have the record of More’s own words on the subject, spoken to Richard Riche in the Tower on 12 June 1535:

‘A king may be made by Parliament and a king deprived by Parliament, to which act any [of his] subjects being of the Parliament may give his consent . . . but to the case [in question] a subject cannot be bound because he cannot give his consent . . . [in] Parliament, saying further that although the king were accepted [as supreme head] in England, yet most Utter [i.e., foreign] parts do not affirm the same’. Whereunto the said Riche said, ‘Well Sir, God comfort you, for I see your mind will not change, which I fear will be very dangerous to you …’27

Of course, Henry VIII did not regard the break with Rome as a revolution: that was the ultimate measure of the genius, ingenuity, and ingenuousness of the authors of the Collectanea satis copiosa. Indeed the Dispensations Act of 1534 positively affirmed England’s commitment to the Catholic faith.28 For England’s political theory until 1536, when the last vestiges of the pope’s authority as pastor, teacher, and interpreter of Scripture were cast off,29 was less that of statutory omnicompetence, than that which assumed that conflicts between ecclesiastical and secular jurisdiction should properly be resolved in favour of the state and imperial Crown, save in cases where the enabling legislation was directly contrary to divine law.

The fascinating thing is that this last idea was older even than Collectanea satis copiosa and the Act of Appeals. Sir John Baker’s researches into Tudor law have demonstrated that a belief in the supremacy of common and statute law over canon law and local custom was a shared attitude or cultural assumption among many common lawyers after 1485.30 For example, Chief Justice Hussey asserted in 1485 that the king of England was answerable directly to God and was therefore superior to the pope within his realm. Thomas Kebell, an Inner Temple barrister, said in the same year that ‘if all the prelates should make a provincial constitution, it would be void, because they cannot change the law of the land’. He meant that provincial constitutions were invalid if they contradicted prevailing English law, and the jurisdiction of the church courts in cases of debt and contract had already been attacked by writs of prohibition awarded by the King’s Bench. John Hales, another barrister, in a Gray’s Inn reading of 1514, expounded his objections to the problems of dual authority caused by parallel jurisdictions exercised by church and state. He thought it inconvenient that similar questions should be decided differently in different courts, an argument that became the hallmark of the royal cause in the 1530s.31 In 1512 a law and order statute removed the privilege of benefit of clergy from persons not ordained in the three higher orders of clergy in cases of murder and of robbery in churches, on highways, or in dwelling houses.32 This act was the beginning of the abolition of clerical immunity from the effects of secular law in cases of felony, the privilege won posthumously by Thomas Becket by the Compromise of Avranches, confirmed by the Concessimus Deo clause of Magna Carta and many times since. That statute of 1512 was, in turn, contradicted by Pope Leo X’s pronouncement during the Fifth Lateran Council (May 1514) that laymen had no jurisdiction over criminous clerks, and was denounced in a sermon preached at Paul’s Cross in February 1515 by Richard Kidderminster, Abbot of Winchcombe. Kidderminster said that the statute was against the law of God and the liberties of the church; that it was void and sinful to put into effect; and that those who had made it, spiritual as well as lay (and including Henry VIII) were subject to ecclesiastical censure, and thus excommunication, if they remained obdurate.33

This sermon caused a furore: as Hughes aptly remarks, Wolsey ‘began his career as a cardinal as he was to end it, kneeling before the king and begging his mercy from the pains and penalties of praemunire’.34 For Henry VIII himself joined the debates in the wake of Kidderminster’s sermon. Ending the affair in November 1515 at Baynard’s Castle, he declared: ‘By the ordinance and sufferance of God we are king of England, and the kings of England in time past have never had any superior but God alone. Wherefore know you well that we shall maintain the right of our crown and of our temporal jurisdiction as well in this point as in all others’.35 Henry in 1515 had already studied the maxim that a king who does not recognize a superior is free from outside jurisdiction. Furthermore, he spoke in the context of a judge’s opinion that the writ of praemunire facias ran against all members of convocation who appealed to Roman canon law not demonstrably based on divine law or approved in advance by the king. In other words, Henry, fifteen years before Collectanea satis copiosa, defined his regal power in terms of his right to monitor the reception of canon law, in which case his ‘superiority’ was already deemed to embrace denial of the pope’s right to infringe his territorial sovereignty on the basis of the Petrine commission.36

Another clash occurred in 1519-20 over the ecclesiastical privilege of sanctuary. Matters had come to a head in the wake of a local feud in 1516 when John Pauncefote, a Gloucester justice, was shot and mutilated on his way to the sessions at Cirencester. The murderers and their supporters caused a public outcry by taking sanctuary. Once again the matter was argued in the King’s Council and before the judges, and ended by a pronouncement from Henry VIII himself:

‘I do not suppose that St. Edward, King Edgar, and the other kings and holy fathers who made the sanctuary ever intended the sanctuary to serve for voluntary murder and larceny done outside the sanctuary in hope of returning, and such like, and I believe the sanctuary was not so used in the beginning. And so I will have that reformed which is encroached by abuse, and have the matter reduced to the true intent of the making thereof in the beginning.’37

Chief Justice Fyneux welcomed this statement, making it the basis of a judgment in Hilary term 1520 reversing accepted law upon ecclesiastical sanctuary: the notion of permanent sanctuary, he declared, ‘is a thing so derogatory to Justice and contrary to the common good of the realm that it is not sufferable by the law’ unless usage time out of mind, that is, before 1189, had been recognized at a general eyre. Nor should this allowance be regarded as meaning much, since Fyneux observed that no one had ever found such a recognition in the records of the eyres. This amounted to saying that the only possibility of watertight sanctuary after 1520 was when the privilege had stemmed from a royal grant with papal confirmation and use before legal memory, supported by royal confirmation and use since. Mere papal grants were in breach of the statute of praemunire, even if the statute annulled them retrospectively; furthermore, subsequent royal confirmations did not mend the defect.38

No doubt all this sounds technical, legal, and dense. But it may point towards an intellectual shift in attitudes to Rome and canon law in the forty-five years between 1485 and 1530. When John Colet preached his Convocation sermon in 1512, he appealed to the leaders of the English Church not only to reform the church, but to defend it against lay encroachments.39 The same line was epitomized by the career of Sir Thomas More, whose ultimate defences of historic attitudes are best read in his Apology and Debellation of Salem and Bizance, rather than in the records of his trial and execution.40 The Apology and Debellation were More’s replies to books by the learned Middle Temple lawyer, Christopher St. German, author of Doctor and Student (1528 and 1530), New Additions (1531), A Treatise concerning the Division between the Spiritualty and Temporalty (1532), Salem and Bizance (1533), and numerous other works.41 In these books, St. German made quite categorical statements on the supremacy of English common and statute law over canon and papal law. For instance, he held that the law of the state, not the church, governed all matters touching property, which, taken to its logical conclusion, meant that the church retained jurisdiction only over its sacramental life and ceremonies. Discussing the anti-clerical legislation passed in the 1529 session of Parliament, which Bishops Fisher, West and Clerk had asked the pope to condemn as invalid on the grounds that it touched clerical immunity,42 St. German said that this legislation was made ‘by the assent of the king, and of all the lords spiritual and temporal of the realm, and of all the commons: and I hold it best not to reason or to make arguments whether they had authority to do that they did or not. For I suppose that no man would think that they would do anything that they had not power to do’.43

St. German went further. In his New Additions, he observed that the king-in-parliament was ‘the high sovereign over the people, which hath not only charge on the bodies, but also on the souls of his subjects’.44 A revolutionary proposition — or was it? In fact, St. German’s intellectual mentors turn out to be Sir John Fortescue, Jean Gerson the Parisian conciliarist, and Marsiglio of Padua.45 He had read and digested their writings before producing his own books. His ‘revolutionary statement’ may therefore really mean that he wanted the king to share with Parliament the regimen animarum — the tutorial ‘care’ or ‘charge’ of souls already entrusted to princes. Although St. German was the first writer to emphasize Parliament as the legislative (and consultative) instrument for achieving the victory of the common over the canon law, it is, however, questionable how far statutory omnicompetence in the modern sense is what he had in mind when he spoke of the king-in-parliament as ‘high sovereign over the people’. We are left wondering where medieval concepts end and modern thought begins — if indeed the transition was ever clear cut, which seems highly unlikely.

If, however, this reading is correct, Cromwell becomes the man who, if he did not ‘invent’ St. German’s theory, nevertheless translated into it action between 1534 and his fall, since he succeeded in neutralizing the essentially absolutist characteristics of Henry VIII’s ‘imperial’ kingship.46

Yet if ‘assimilation’ rather than ‘revolution’ was the keynote of juristic thought in the 1520s and 1530s, the work of St. German, notably the twin dialogues of his Doctor and Student, testifies to a change since the time of Sir John Fortescue–a shift of either mentality or modes of expression. If a change of mentality occurred it was inspired, I think, by juristic ideas at the Inns of Court. Thomas Cromwell would have been influenced, with others, but such a change of mentality would have been partial, or partisan, since Thomas More was a common lawyer too. If a shift in modes of expression lies at the heart of changed emphasis, it was signalled by St. German’s desire to circulate Doctor and Student in printed form, particularly by his decision to write and print in Latin and English rather than Law French, for this reveals his conscious wish to appeal to a constituency much broader than that of the Inns of Court.47

Another scholar, one directly concerned with the gestation of official Henrician ideology and the concept of ’empire’, wrote a Latin treatise for the press. Edward Foxe’s De vera differentia (1534) must be regarded as an acid test of the extent to which Henrician dogma might be revealed to a learned international audience during the year of the Act of supremacy. (Foxe’s book was in 1548 translated into English and printed in black letter, the preferred typeface of the literate people.)48

Foxe had four self-conscious aims in the De vera: (1) to establish that ecclesiastical jurisdiction had no foundation in divine law save in respect of the sacramental life of the church, and that provinces of the universal church were largely self-governing; (2) that the contents of canon law had validity only as ‘informations’, ‘rules’, or ‘traditions’ for the guidance of Christian men, but not as laws that commanded obedience; (3) that holy bishops and Church Councils repudiated the dominion of one man, favouring limited episcopal authority in the church, and that holy bishops had sometimes rightfully resisted papal encroachments when guided by ‘conscience’ or ‘private law’ as written in their hearts by the Holy Spirit; (4) that the power of kings in general, and kings of England in particular, vouchsafed them undisputed rights of ecclesiastical government over both their churches and clergy. Both scripture (mainly the Old Testament) and the law of nature validated royal power — it was for kings to govern and judge. Kings were superior to bishops and bishops subject to kings. The clergy were only to administer the sacraments and to guide Christians by the holiness of their examples. Romans 13 was the key New Testament text, as expounded by Fathers and learned ‘authors’: the text gave authority to kings over bishops and clergy as much as over lay people. The thesis here may be summarized thus: all power was of God and must be so obeyed; the distinction was between lawful power entrusted to kings, and ecclesiastical tyranny permitted by God in order that men might be scourged for their transgressions.

The emperors Constantine and Justinian, together with the Anglo-Saxon kings, and William I and Edward I, were the historical models erected by Foxe. Yet the concept of ’empire’ as announced in the Act of Appeals, at any rate in relation to the specific issue of ecclesiastical appeals, is almost overlooked in De vera differentia. The issue of appeals is mentioned, but briefly. Following a passage on Justinian, who enacted laws De episcopis et clericis, many ‘laws’ of England were cited to establish that kings there had maintained their historic authority over the church. The matter of appeals is tucked away in this section between Justinian’s laws and the regalian rights of Henry I’s reign. Foxe quotes chapter 8 of the Constitutions of Clarendon, which had also appeared in the Collectanea satis copiosa in a version taken from William of Malmesbury.49 The Constitutions of Clarendon were, however, a weak authority for the king’s oversight of appeals: it is plain than an attempt is being made to give the legislation of 1533 spurious historical force. Otherwise the Anglo-Saxon kings predominate: the ‘laws’ of Cnut, Edgar, Aethelstan, Ine, Ethelred and others are listed. King Lucius turns up again, as ever the joker in the pack. Likewise King Edgar’s speech to his clergy, the Acts of the Bishops of Durham, the Battle Abbey charter, William I’s letter to the pope, and Edward I’s claim to overlordship of Scotland appear. The last issue is represented by long documentary quotation: Edward’s royal dignity and customary law demand papal recognition of his right and title to Scotland, which the king must assert as an inalienable function of the English Crown, one that could not be granted away even if an individual English king were willing to do so. The argument is familiar, but Foxe’s De vera adds nothing to the episode. One senses, above all, no awareness in the work that England’s ‘imperial’ status was perceived as anything beyond what was actually maintained by the Lincoln Parliament in the political context of 1301. If national sovereignty and statutory omnicompetence in the modern sense were at stake in 1533 and 1534, Edward Foxe, one of the minds behind ‘Henricus Octavus’, Gravissimae … censurae, the Collectanea, Glasse of the truthe and the rest, prefers not to say so.

Before we abandon the vexed question of statutory omnicompetence, it does seem bizarre that the supposedly cohesive policy which manufactured the Act of Appeals under the guiding hand of Thomas Cromwell contained so dramatic an internal contradiction as between the notion of the supremacy of statute and that of the caesaropapist supreme head, Henry VIII. If Henry VIII was henceforward to manage the English Church and clergy directly after the manner of a late-Roman emperor, it would appear that Parliament was no more sovereign than it had been when the English Church owed allegiance to Rome and the papacy. The reason for this contradiction was perhaps that the Act of Appeals was itself a compromise document, partly between Henry VIII and Cromwell, partly between Henry VIII and the clergy. It is plain that the king could only achieve the declaration of the English Reformation by parliamentary statute with the co-operation of the lords spiritual in the House of Lords, who, if not in the majority there, were nevertheless in a substantial minority, namely fifty or so as against fifty-seven temporal peers. Since there were conservative lords temporal as well as spiritual, everything depended on politics and parliamentary management.

Of course, Henry coerced some of his clerical opponents into submission by threats, praemunire, and punitive taxation, but some bishops actually supported the king, and a vital truth lies behind this capitulation. It is beginning to look as if Henry VIII had decided from the beginning of his reign that he meant to control and manage the English church; for fourteen years he ran the church and clergy through Wolsey, and the clergy connived, because it was better to be ruled by a churchman, however abrasive, than more directly by the king–and Wolsey certainly protected the clergy from the full force of Tudor policy between 1515 and 1529. Then Wolsey was destroyed by praemunire; the anticlerical laity and common lawyers were given their heads as an integral aspect of the king’s divorce policy; by 1532 it looked as if the Tudor supremacy would be a parliamentary one, not a purely royal instrument of control. The king, who disliked representative assemblies out of ‘imperialism’ and emulation of the French, wished to cut back Parliament’s contribution to the mechanical but still revolutionary task of enacting the requisite legislation. He found among the clergy some unexpected allies, because it was plain to all but the most ultramontane papalists in the years 1532 to 1536 that a parliamentary supremacy would have exposed the clergy directly to the pent-up fury, and hatred, of the anticlerical laity and common lawyers. Thus to politically alert bishops royal supremacy was the better of two evils: the clergy would not have to counter the approaching anticlerical backlash without the necessary filter of royal mediation.

I have already hinted that the intellectual origins of the Henrician revolution might profitably be traced back before the Act of Appeals to 1485 or before, and that the principles of equality before the law, laicization, and rationalization as espoused by some English common lawyers reflected perhaps some sort of union of the juristic specifics of the English situation with the citizen-centred philosophy of the Renaissance that developed without direct regard to England or the Tudors. Of course, we must recognize the obvious: the 1530s saw dramatic changes; the break with Rome was in this sense a revolution. The triumph by 1580 of Protestantism and the Anglican Church was an even greater revolution. Yet we should return, finally, to my suggestion that a case might be made for 1485 as a date of some significance. In addition to the arguments of the judges and common lawyers in the courts, in their inns, and as members of the King’s Council — all of which had a cumulative effect, though they had been fundamental to the English scene for hundreds of years — we must face some harsh political realities.

It was the first of the Tudors, Henry VII, who transformed the relationship between civil and church authorities. The Tudors could not tolerate vested interests incompatible with their secular aims: thus franchises were attacked, liberties suppressed, actions of praemunire and quo warranto begun in the royal courts against church and churchmen; appeals to Rome were monitored and suffered decline; requests for secular aid against excommunicates dropped to the lowest level since 1250.50 All this was happening between 1485 and 1509, and every available method was used: an act of Parliament of 1489 curtailed benefit of clergy; Archbishop Morton, Henry VII’s lord chancellor, secured bulls from Rome modifying the privileges of sanctuaries which had become refuges for criminals, and to conduct visitations of religious houses hitherto exempt from royal jurisdiction.51

We have seen that such policies were continued by Henry VIII.52 Furthermore, Henry VII changed the character of the bench of bishops to the extent that Dr. Knecht has suggested that in the long term, secularization of the bench may have enervated its religious leadership.53 First, Henry VII’s appointments to bishoprics favoured lawyers at the expense of theologians; the king’s first consideration was always that of service to the Crown, thus of twenty-seven preferments during his reign, sixteen were of lawyers, and only six of theologians. Most of his theologians, too, were administrators.54 Second, service to the state to the detriment of the church was exacted as a conscious act of policy under Henry VII: thus William Smith petitioned in vain to be allowed to leave the Marches of Wales in order to pay attention to his neglected see, and Richard Redman had to fine with the king for permission to reside in his diocese.55 The status of bishops in the King’s Council declined, and Henry showed a ruthlessness to them typical of his treatment of other peers. Even Richard Fox paid £2,000 for a pardon, while all were subject to fiscal feudalism and the quest for revenue.

Under Henry VIII, though, the clergy were subjected to the harshest and most extensive taxation in previous English history. In addition to normal contributions in other years when general taxation was exacted, in 1523 and 1531 the English provinces were obliged to offer £118,000, the first time as the triumph of Wolsey’s legatine ingenuity, and the second in exchange for the ominous Pardon of 1531.56 Each of these donations was equivalent in value to the yield of a parliamentary lay subsidy of 2s.8d. in the pound; thus the clergy were paying above traditionally accepted proportions of general taxation as between them and the laity. In short, a systematic attack on ecclesiastical revenues had begun. Henry VIII’s attacks on benefit of clergy and sanctuary have already been mentioned; so too has his study in 1515 of the maxim that a king who does not recognize a superior is free from outside jurisdiction. Yet surely such study was not undertaken in isolation. For Henry’s imperial ambitions, though they came to new and ripe fruition with Collectanea satis copiosa and the Act of Appeals, had more obvious origins even than the pronouncements of 1515. Henry had briefly sought the imperial crown of Germany in 1519. He hoped, too, to conquer the throne of France, and alongside that ambition, first given military expression in 1512, went the propaganda war in which the French and English monarchs vied with each other for primacy in sacerdotal sovereignty. For instance, the French in 1515 republished the fifteenth-century dialogue known as the Debate of the Heralds. The French herald in that exchange praises the independence of his king from all overlordship, whereas, he jibes, the English king holds from the see of Rome. Moreover, the Frenchman boasts that his king can outshow the English in symbolic emblems of regal pre-eminence.57 In reply, the English exhumed and embellished the ideology of the Hundred Years War. The exchange ended with an English vernacular edition of the Debate, printed in 1550, in which the English herald answered that his king was emperor within his own realm and ‘holdeth of no man’, that he is supreme head of the churches of England and Ireland, wears an imperial diadem, holds in his left hand an orb representing his empire, and in his right hand carries a sword to minister and defend justice.58

The Debate of the Heralds has recently been addressed by Professor McKenna; it would be interesting to discover more concerning the transfer of any similar English materials from manuscript to print between 1513 and 1550.59 Yet such inquiry should be widely extended. Henry VIII, we know, had placed the arched or imperial crown as a decorative motif on his gold and purple pavilion at the tournament of 1511;60 in 1513 the arched crown was struck on a special issue of coinage during the English occupation of Tournai, that emblem having first appeared on the coinage in 1489, when Henry VII minted his new gold sovereign.61 When in 1517 Henry VIII was musing on the idea of aspiring to succeed the Emperor Maximilian, who had purported to be willing to resign in favour of Henry in order to gain a subsidy, Cuthbert Tunstall informed him:

One of the chief points in the election of the emperor is that he which shall be elected must be of Germany, subject to [the] Empire; whereas your grace is not, nor never since the Christian faith the kings of England were subject to the Empire. But the crown of England is an Empire of itself, much better than now the Empire of Rome: for which cause your Grace weareth a closed Crown. And therefore if ye were chosen, since your Grace is not of the Empire the election were void. And if your Grace should accept the said Election, thereby ye must confess your realm to be under subjection of the Empire to the perpetual prejudice of your successor ….62

All these matters require further research. Yet one thing is apparent. Politics, ideology and the divorce issue provided an explosive mixture in the wake of the fall of Wolsey. But the ensuing fusion was of formidable complexity. The opportunities that the political situation created were considerable, but policy could be ambiguous and was not fully coordinated. Many minds were at work; decisions had to be taken under pressure in response to royal requirements and immediate needs. There was no overall blueprint. Furthermore, unexpected traps beset the unwary. One awaited Edward Foxe, whose exposition of ‘private law’ or ‘conscience’ in De vera differentia justified Thomas More’s defensive stand against Henry VIII far better than Robert Grosseteste’s against Innocent IV. Finally, the cultural and mental background since 1485 may be significant: we need to know more about the Inns of Court, who was active there, whether readings and moots reflect discernible patterns of opinion, how widespread were St. German’s attitudes, how far juristic thought mirrored royal policy or vice versa, and so on.

The search for the intellectual origins of Henrician ‘imperial’ kingship will thus extend far beyond the achievements, and lifetime, of Thomas Cromwell. It will reach beyond England and the sixteenth century, too, since the theme of imperial renovatio was European: Charles V, Francis I, and Henry VIII stood in a tradition that sprang from Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and Charlemagne. The theme of ‘imperialism’ in the Renaissance had been articulated by Ariosto in the Orlando furioso and was consummated for England by Spenser in The Faerie Queene. It is unlikely that Henry VII and Henry VIII were much influenced by this universal outlook, but it is equally clear that the question, ‘Who was the architect of the Henrician “political” revolution?’ is mal posée, if Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell are to be our only candidates. Whatever takes its place, the ‘King or Minister’ debate is dead. Yet as Elton had all along emphasized, Thomas Cromwell was not King Utopus.63


1. For the literature on this question, the following works are essential: Elton, Tudor Revolution; The Tudor Constitution; England under the Tudors; Reform and Reformation; Policy and Police; Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government, vol. 1, pp. 173-88; vol. 2, pp. 82-154, 215-58; P. Williams and G. L. Harriss, ‘A revolution in Tudor History’, Past and Present, no. 25 (1963), pp. 3-58, and no. 31 (1965), pp. 87-96; Coleman and Starkey, Revolution Reassessed.

2. Elton, Reform and Reformation, p. 169. See also his Reform and Renewal; ‘Thomas Cromwell Redivivus’, pp. 192-208; Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government, vol. 1, pp. 173-88.

3. Elton, England under the Tudors, p. 161.

4. Elton, The Tudor Constitution, pp. 353-8.

5. LP, VIII, no. 1054.

6. The ‘Henricus Octavus’ is named after its incipit, which was the salutation from Henry VIII to the cardinal legates at Blackfriars. See Virginia Murphy, ‘The debate over Henry VIII’s first divorce: an analysis of the contemporary treatises’ (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cambridge, 1984), pp. 66-80. Her findings on the ‘Henricus Octavus’, the Gravissimae censurae and Determinations supersede those of H. A. Kelly, The Matrimonial Trials of Henry VIII (Stanford, 1976), pp. 180-1.

7. Correspondence, ed. Rogers, no. 199 (p. 496).

8. Murphy, ‘The debate over Henry VIII’s first divorce’, pp. 164-218.

9. The printed tracts are Gravissimae atque exactissimae illustrissimarum totius Italiae et Galliae Academiarum censurae … (London, c.1531), and The determinations of the moste famous and mooste excellent vniuersities of Italy and Fraunce, that it is so vnlefull for a man to marie his brothers wyfe, that the pope hath no power to dispence therwith (London, 1531). STC2, nos. 14286, 14287. See E. surtz and Virginia Murphy (eds.), The Divorce Tracts of Henry VIII (Angers, 1988).

10. Cf. A Glasse of the truthe, ready in 1531 or 1532, which is more emphatic. STC, nos. 11918-19. A modern edition is by Pocock, Records of the Reformation, vol. 2, pp. 385-421.

11. Elton, Policy and Police, p. 177 n.2.

12. Guy, Public Career. pp. 131-51. The authoritative account is by G. D. Nicholson, ‘The nature and function of historical argument in the Henrician Reformation’ (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cambridge, 1977), pp. 74-156.

13. D. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer (London and New Haven, 1996), pp. 41-78.

14. Nicholson, ‘Nature and function of historical argument’, pp. 111-13. The Collectanea is British Library, Cotton MS. Cleopatra, fos. 16-135.

15. Nicholson, ‘Nature and function of historical argument’, pp. 74-214.

16. Cleopatra, fos. 16-42, 64, 76, 84, 92v, 94-119, 134-5. Cf. Pocock, Records of the Reformation, vol. 2, pp. 385-421.

17. Nicholson, ‘Nature and function of historical argument’, pp. 179-214; W. Ullmann, ‘This realm of England is an empire’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 30 (1979), pp. 175-203.

18. Cleopatra, fos. 27, 35. The letter is dated 169 A.D. in the Collectanea.

19. ‘[Rex debet esse] sub Deo et sub lege, quia lex facit regem’, appears as ‘sub Deo. Non sub lege, quia Rex legem facit’! Ibid., fo. 28v. Were Cranmer and Foxe using a royalist text or were they vetting Bracton?

20. W. Ullmann, Principles of Government and Politics in the Middle Ages, 2nd edn. (London, 1966), pp. 178-81, 204.

21. D. Wilkins (ed.), Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae, 4 vols. (London, 1737), vol. 3, pp. 762-5.

22. Guy, Public Career, pp. 181-3.

23. Ibid., pp. 176-99. Much of the paperwork, however, is filed in Cromwell’s archive.

24. Elton, Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government, vol. 2, pp. 82-106.

25. Cleopatra, fos. 180-4.

26. Cf. R. Koebner, ‘The imperial crown of this realm’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 26 (1953), p. 30; Nicholson, ‘Nature and function of historical argument’, pp. 182-91.

27. E. E. Reynolds, The Life and Death of St Thomas More (London, 1968), pp. 385-6. I have checked Riche’s manuscript (PRO, SP 2/R, fos. 24-5) under ultra-violet light, and am satisfied that the reading ‘consent’ (Reynolds, p. 368, line 11) is correct. It is a pity that the document is so badly mutilated.

28. 25 Henry VIII. c.21.

29. By 28 Henry VIII, c.10.

30. J. H. Baker (ed.), The Reports of Sir John Spelman, 2 vols., Selden Society (London, 1977-8), vol. 2, intro. pp. 64-70.

31. Ibid., vol. 2, intro. p. 65.

32. 4 Henry VIII, c.2.

33. J. Duncan M. Derrett, ‘The affairs of Richard Hunne and Friar Standish’, in The Complete Works of St Thomas More, vol. IX, The Apology, p. 226.

34. P. Hughes, The Reformation in England, 3 vols. (London, 1950-4), vol. 1, p. 153.

35. John Guy, ‘Henry VIII and the praemunire manoeuvres of 1530-1531’, English Historical Review, 97 (1982), p. 497.

36. Ibid.

37. Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. Baker, vol. 2, intro., pp. 342-3.

38. E. W. Ives, ‘Crime, sanctuary, and royal authority under Henry VIII: the exemplary sufferings of the Savage family’, in M. S. Arnold, T. A. Green, S. A. Scully and S. D. White (eds), Of the Laws and Customs of England (Chapel Hill, NC, 1981), pp. 298-9.

39. J. H. Lupton, A Life of John Colet, D.D. (London, 1909), pp. 293-304. For the date, see J. B. Trapp, ‘John Colet and the Hierarchies of the Ps-Dionysius’, Studies in Church History, 17 (1981), pp. 130-3.

40. More, Complete Works, vol IX, pp. 1-172; the Debellation is Complete Works, vol. X (STC2, no. 18081).

41. Alistair Fox and John Guy, Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform 1500-1550 (Oxford, 1986), pp. 95-120.

42. 21 Henry VIII, c.6; Guy, Public Career, p. 139.

43. Doctor and Student, ed. Plucknett and Barton, p. 317.

44. Ibid., p. 327.

45. John Guy, Christopher St German on Chancery and Statute, Selden Society, supplementary series, vol. 6 (London, 1985), pp. 35-6, 40, 43-4, 51, 72-3, 87.

46. Elton, Reform and Reformation, pp. 197-200.

47. Doctor and Student, ed. Plucknett and Barton, pp. lxix-lxxvi, 176-7.

48. Opus eximium. De vera differentia regiae potestatis et ecclesiasticae, et quae sit ipsa veritas ac virtus utriusque (London, 1534); STC, no. 11218. The translation by Henry, Lord Stafford, The true dyffere[nce]s betwen ye regall power and the ecclesiasticall power, is competent but marred by misprints and Protestant influences; STC, no. 11220. Cotton MS. Cleopatra, fos. 1-15, is a manuscript of the latter part of the Latin text of De vera differentia headed ‘De potestate regia’.

49. De vera differentia, sigs. M3v-4; Cleopatra, fo. 40 (annotated ‘de appellationibus’ by Henry VIII); W. Stubbs, Select Charters, ed. H. W. C. Davis, 9th edn. (Oxford, repr. 1962) p. 165; Nicholson, ‘Nature and function of historical argument’, p. 194.

50. R. L. Storey, Diocesan Administration in Fifteenth-Century England, Borthwick Papers no. 16, 2nd edn. (York, 1972), pp. 29-33; Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. Baker, vol. 2, intro., pp. 66-8; Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California, Ellesmere MS. 2652, fo. 6.

51. Storey, Diocesan Administration, pp. 29-30; Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. Baker, vol. 2, intro., pp. 332-40.

52. Ibid, vol. 2, intro., pp. 64-70, 326-46.

53. R. J. Knecht, ‘The episcopate and the Wars of the Roses’, University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 6 (1957-8), pp. 108-31.

54. M. M. Condon, ‘Ruling elites in the reign of Henry VII’, in Patronage, Pedigree and Power, ed. C. Ross (Gloucester, 1979), pp. 110-11.

55. Ibid., pp. 111-12.

56. Guy, ‘Henry VIII and the praemunire manoeuvres’, pp. 481-503.

57. Le debat des heraulx darmes de Fra[n]ce et de A[n]gleterre (Rouen, [1515]), British Library, C.32.g.4; L. Pannier (ed.), Le Débat des Hérauts d’Armes de France et d’Angleterre (Paris, 1877). See J. W. McKenna, ‘How God became an Englishman’, in Tudor Rule and Revolution: Essays for G. R. Elton from his American Friends ed. D. J. Guth and J. W. McKenna (Cambridge, 1982), p. 29.

58. The Debate betwene the heraldes of Englande and Fraunce, compyled by Jhon Coke, clarke of the kynges recognysaunce, or vulgerly, called clarke of the Statutes of the staple of Westmynster, and fynyshed the yere of our Lorde. M.D.L.; STC, no. 5530.

59. Cf. ‘How God became an Englishman’, pp. 27-31, 35-43.

60. C. Whibley (ed.), Henry VIII [an edition of Edward Hall’s Chronicle], 2 vols. (London, 1904), vol. 1, p. 24.

61. C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage (Manchester, 1978), pp. 49-51, 65-6.

62. H. Ellis (ed.), Original Letters Illustrative of English History, 1st series, 3 vols., 2nd edn. (London, 1825), vol. 1, p. 136 (LP, II, no. 2911). For further evidence of the intellectual origins of Henry VIII’s ‘imperial’ sovereignty, see Ullmann, ‘This Realm of England is an Empire’, pp. 175-203; D. B. Quinn, ‘Henry VIII and Ireland’, Irish Historical Studies, 12 (1960-1), pp. 325-6; D. Hoak, ‘The Iconography of the Crown Imperial’, in D. Hoak (ed.), Tudor Political Culture (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 54-103; T. F. Mayer, ‘On the Road to 1534: the Occupation of Tournai and Henry VIII’s Theory of Sovereignty’, in ibid., pp. 11-30.

63. Elton, ‘King or Minister? The Man behind the Henrician Reformation’, in Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government, vol. 1, pp. 173-88.

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