Henry VIII Personal Divorce Plea
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Henry VIII was created Prince of Wales after the death of his older brother Arthur, Prince of Wales.
A special dispensation from Pope Julius II was necessary in order to allow him to marry his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon.
However, Catherine, his first wife, failed to provide Henry a male heir to survive to adulthood. And by 1529 Catherine was deemed too old to have more children.
Henry VIII's greatest desire was to secure an annulment to his marriage so that he could marry Anne Boleyn and produce a male heir.
When it was suggested to Catherine that she quietly retire to a nunnery she steadfastly refused.
Henry VIII set his hopes of an annulment upon an appeal to Pope Clement VII.
The Pope was at the time a prisoner of Catherine's nephew, The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, following the Sack of Rome in 1527, and this prevented him from annulling the marriage.
This one page letter measuring 12½" x 15½" is written in Latin and dated January 18 1529.
This historically significant correspondence represents Henry VIII's attempt to advance his plans to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn.
Unable to make contact with The Pope, Henry VIII writes to Cardinal Benedetto de Accolti, the Bishop of Ravenna.
Henry sends a recommendation for his envoy Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire (and curiously the father of Anne Boleyn) to be sent to represent him in discussions with Emperor Charles V.
The letter is in very good condition, with professional repairs and reinforcement to intersecting folds on reverse, scattered light toning, minor edge wear, and a few small areas and pin holes of paper loss (primarily from ink erosion).
The signature is extraordinarily bold and dark, and, given its age, the document is exceedingly bold for display.
The basic message of this royal piece - heavily dressed in a formal tone - essentially sends the recipient the good wishes of His Royal Highness, expresses a desire for mutual co-operation between the two factions, and asks that note be taken of the ambassador he is sending - the father of Anne Boleyn.
Under pressure from Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, The Pope's inability to grant Henry VIII's request for an annulment changed the History of England forever.
In an interview with the Associated Press in June 2009 David Starkey, a British Historian, TV presenter and Tudor expert, said:
"It is an event of enormous magnitude, the most 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."
This is Henry VIII's personal attempt to seek an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
Dated January 18 1529 and signed by Henry VIII.
This document represents the beginning of one of the most significant events in British history.
Documents of this significance are rarely available on the collectors market. The Vatican Secret Archives hold a document measuring 3 foot x 6½ foot, dated 1530, sent by members of England's House of Lords to Pope Clement VII supporting the divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
It is considered a crucial document in the King's battle to divorce his first wife.
It's also the most expensive piece of merchandising in the Vatican. Copies of the document can be bought in the gift shop for €50,000 ($75,000). Not surprisingly the original is safely locked away and deemed priceless.
What we are offering today is a totally unique item, arguably of greater importance.
"Henry, by the grace of God King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, and Lord of Ireland, to the Most Reverend Father in Christ, Lord Benedetto, Cardinal of Ravenna, etc., Our most dear friend, greetings. We have often before had clear experience of how much We are able to promise Ourselves from Your Most Reverend Lordship's benevolent feelings and affection to Us: Our ambassadors who have recently returned from Italy also bear such abundant witness to this that We will not be satisfied until by testimony of Our grateful feelings We have made some partial return for Your Most Reverend Lordship's so extraordinary desire to deserve well of Us. The letter filled with all human sentiments that Your Most Reverend Lordship has sent to Us, Indeed, We consider a rich indication, most pleasing and most dear, of Your Most Reverend Lordship's disposition toward Us, as having been sent by one whom We already numbered among Our preeminent friends and of whose grandeur and honor We take the greatest of care. We therefore vehemently beg Your Most Reverend Lordship both to desire to persist in this your Most Reverend Lordship's most fair determination to please Us and also to make bold use of anything in Our power whenever it seems useful or honourable to Your Most Reverend Lordship. Further, we are sending an ambassador to His Imperial Majesty on account of various business of Ours, the illustrious Lord Thomas, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, Our most beloved kinsman and councillor, and Keeper of Our Privy Seal, for which reason We pray Your Most Reverend to attend to him with the same courtesy and grant him in all things the same trust as if Your Most Reverend Lordship heard Us speaking in person. And a fortunate farewell. From Our court at London, 18 January 1529"
The reverse of the letter bears the addressed greetings:
"To the Most Reverend Father in Christ, Lord Benetto, Cardinal Presbyter, etc., Our most dear friend."