Explain the role played by Thomas Cranmer in achieving the Royal Divorce

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Paper 11 June 2012

Explain the role played by Thomas Cranmer in achieving the Royal Divorce

Thomas Cranmer, along with Foxe and Gardiner, were tasked with trying to solve King Henry VIII’s Great Matter. First they decided to appeal to the great universities of Europe in 1530, but it became apparent that there was nothing that could be done within canon law.

Therefore Cranmer, along with the Archbishop of Hereford, turned to a collection of documents known as the Collectania satis copiosa. This was a collection of ancient English manuscripts and Anglo-Saxon Chronicals which referred to the king as head of state and church. They set forward a legal and historical basis from which Cranmer used to argue that Henry had the authority to achieve a divorce without the consent of the Pope. Furthermore, it was said that Henry had a positive duty to regain the control over church and state that was written of in the Collectania. Henry’s own notes on the document prove that he was aware of its existence and that he was intelligent enough to know what it implied.

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It became apparent that the only way to get a divorce would be through statute law through king in parliament. Men such as Cranmer and Cromwell were more important than ever in 1530-32 because Henry saw them as his greatest chance of getting a divorce. The historian Ian Dawson believes that Henry chose them over the conservatives because the conservatives could only offer a stalemate with no solution. Cranmer was an evangelical, both pro-protestant and anti-papal. He had an agenda of his own that he wanted to achieve, and he believed that securing a divorce would mark the beginning of ...

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