Defender of the Faith

Father Rowland fumbled through the passage to the dimly lit chapel in the Palace of Whitehall.  Inside, a small group was already standing by: a single altar server, several members of the Court, and the King and his betrothed.

“Your majesty,” Father Rowland whispered and bowed.

The King simply nodded his recognition.

The priest saw that all things were prepared for the celebration of the Nuptial Mass and just before he was to begin, he turned deferentially back to the King.

“Sire,” he uttered shakily, “since it touches upon us all, I think it important that the license be read before we proceed… and, since excommunication is no slight matter and since your previous, shall we call it, invalid marriage has not yet been publicly annulled, well… I trust you have the Pontifical Brief?”

The witnesses held their breath and the bride to be glanced sideways at her fiancé as if observing the storm about to erupt from a long calm.  But the King surprised those present with a cool response.

“Father, it aches my soul that you should give such little credit to my character.  I assuredly have the Pope’s signature upon the permission to wed; it’s just that I’ve concealed it in a very secret place.  If I were seen wandering the early hours to go and retrieve it, word might spread among the conspirators that something was afoot.  This must remain a secret for now... I’ll show it to you later…”

In reality, there was no ecclesiastical permission and King Henry VIII had already given up on obtaining it.  His marriage to Anne Boleyn was enacted that day but it wasn’t until five months afterward, May 23, 1533 that his divorce from Catherine, and subsequently the divorce of England from the Church of Rome, was made public.


Prixie said...

I always thought that Henry was such a 'man whor3' - for lack of a better phrase.

Thanks for the great story!

cyurkanin said...

Oh, there are so many phrases to describe that man lol It was pretty difficult for me to maintain a "nicety" when writing this one. I was originally going to delve into the possible actual relationship of Henry and Anne but I try to keep this blog rated PG at worst.

cyurkanin said...

... and then there's Father Rowland too. After the Anglican schism, he became known to history as the "Hanging Bishop" - claiming personally to have ordered the execution of at least 5,000 Welshmen alone. He really hated the Welsh :)

Enbrethiliel said...


I'm late to the party, as usual, and this makes sober Ash Wednesday morning reading. For all my pro-monarchy trumpeting, I know I wouldn't want to be in a position where I had to deny a power-mad king.

I really like the angle you take here: the role of the "little people" in the Anglican schism. Henry may have pushed the lever, but others acted as the fulcrum.

And then, apparently, rose to power themselves.

cyurkanin said...

Not everyone could be Thomas More. I'm glad you understood the angle I took, ma;am, thanks, I never really know if it comes across.

Enbrethiliel said...


I'm sure I miss the point as often as I get it. =) This one was a little easier because I've gone over Henry's story so many times with other writers (and even in my own mind).

Roma said...

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Roma X

cyurkanin said...

Thanks, Roma, very much! Welcome, and I'll be checking out your ramblings too!