When Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon in 1501, all looked rosy for the nation. She was a good wife and quickly produced children for the monarch, but, sadly, no sons survived. By 1527, the need for an heir was so great in the King’s eyes that he sought to divorce Catherine.
However, in 16th Century Roman Catholic England, where religion dictated that marriage must be for life, the process of getting a divorce was not a simple one, as the church simply forbade it. If Henry chose to divorce his wife he risked being excommunicated and, as a result, his soul would not be accepted in heaven. This was deemed intolerable for a King.
Catherine was a good wife, and relatively healthy, but Henry required an heir, so, his dire need to obtain a divorce and stay part of the church required extreme actions.
When Henry’s request for special Papal Dispensation to be divorced was refused by Pope Clement VII and attempts by Cardinal Wolsey to seek clarity on the issue from Cardinal Campeggio were thwarted, so it was that Henry decided to undertake desperate measures.
By 1529, with Henry’s patience dwindling and anger increasing, parliament began to initiate certain reforms against papal law. Questions over Henry’s continued marriage were asked of various Heads of State and the opinions of lawyers, heads of the church, academics, and royal advisors were all heard.
In 1533, Henry could wait no longer and ordered the Archbishop of Canterbury to grant him a divorce so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. This effectively was the beginning of the Reformation, the breaking away from Papal rule.
Although England remained a predominantly Catholic country, Henry became the Head of the Church via an Act of Parliament in 1534. Many of his subjects had become unhappy about the role of the Roman Catholic Church and how the monks took money for matters such as marriage and baptisms to boost Roman coffers. So, Henry took it upon himself to ‘dissolve’ many of the Catholic monasteries in the great Dissolution.
Henry’s divorce and remarriage signalled great unrest and divided the sympathies of his subjects and neighbouring countries. The effects of this religious and political transformation sowed the seeds for huge change in England, the ramifications of which are still present in modern society.
Seeking a divorce today
Yet, the seeking of a divorce, in many cultures, is no longer as difficult or unacceptable as it was in the 16th Century.
It is relatively simple to find a divorce solicitor in London, Brighton, and throughout the UK. Moreover, the process of dissolving a marriage legally can be straightforward if both parties agree to the terms of the split.
However, it is always a good idea to find the best family lawyer you can to advise you during divorce, and at Healys LLP we have many years’ experience in representing clients through this difficult time.
To speak to a divorce solicitor or a family lawyer today, please call our London or Brighton offices and we will be happy to advise you on your circumstances.