Many people believe Anne Boleyn was the most important person in bringing about the kings divorce. She was an essential individual in the decision and need for the divorce and she was a catalyst which helped to speed it up. There are 4 main reasons she was important in this process and they are, Anne Boleyn introduced Henry to some religious texts that undermined the power of the pope. These texts demonstrated that the king should be head of the church of his country, which helped lead to the idea of breaking away / controlling the church. She believed that Henry should make decisions and not have to bow down to Rome. One of the main reasons Henry Was going to divorce Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn was because he believed she was able to give him a son. Which he needed to become heir as he only had illegitimate sons or a daughter. She was much younger than Catherine and more was more likely to have children. Anne did in fact become pregnant in December 1532 when Henry took her to France. Which helped to speed up the divorce as Henry did not want to have another illegitimate son. Anne Boleyn was important in the divorce as Henry was prepared to see Anne as a wife and not a mistress. There is evidence for this as she said to him that she would not sleep with him until they were married and she was queen this evidence is from the love letters sent between Henry and Anne previously. Anne’s family were very powerful and important people. They were key people at courts throughout the years of the divorce. Some historians think that once Wolsey’s early attempts at getting Henry a divorce failed it was her father Thomas and the duke of Norfolk her uncle who took chances to influence and manipulate the king into getting rid of Wolsey. Her brother also helped in the stages of the divorce as he went to Rome to help persuade the pope to let Henry have a divorce. The Boleyn family offered patronage to Thomas Cranmer which leads onto our next key individual.
Thomas Cranmer was a religious man and it was his suggestion that Henry should consult universities of the legality of the papal dispensation. At the time of his appointment he was England’s ambassador at the court of Charles V. He was heavily supported by the Boleyn family and was a junior member of the Boleyn faction. Cranmer was able to give intellectual justification for the divorce and break with Rome. Also his justification for the king to be able to make his own decision by using his own authority. He co wrote a book called ‘Collectanea satis copiosa’ in 1530 which validated the divorce from legal and historical principles. He suggested Henry should summon bishops or an English church council in which he could pronounce his divorce and enforce their decision by proclamation or an act of parliament. Cranmer was prepared to Marry Anne and Henry and declare their marriage valid and Catherine’s Void and Null. Cranmer was the momentum in the divorce he did all he could to get the divorce and in the end he was the one who made it happen.
Another key person in the involvement of the divorce was Thomas Cromwell who was a lawyer. Cromwell and Cranmer come as a pair in the successfulness of the divorce as Cromwell uses Cranmer’s concepts and makes it a legal argument. He was appointed to the council in 1530 but did not control Henry’s policy before 1532 although we believe he was there in the background of it all. Cromwell was responsible for drafting the legislation that enabled the divorce and the break with Rome to happen and he steered the legislation through parliament to ensure it was passed. He also produced the bill to cut payments to Rome by the church. (First act of Annates 1532) Cromwell exploited the anti-clerical emotions of MP’s to engineer the petition to the king known as the supplication against the ordinaries which was a strong attack on many aspects of the church , cannon law and convocation . This was accepted by the king and the clergy were made to apologise. The act of restraint of appeals which was a radical measure that laid down the highest court appeal would be in England and Not Rome was drafted by Thomas Cromwell. Some historians see Cromwell as the inventor of the break of Rome which enabled the divorce.
The final key individual that was a factor in the king’s divorce was in fact the king (Henry) himself. Without Henry employing a significant amount of lawyers to make his case during the court at black friars the whole divorce case may not have come about. He made an effort to secure formal judgement for the issue from the most prestigious universities in Europe. Large sums of money were paid to secure verdicts in his favour. But the impact of this was not actually that great on getting his divorce. Henry recognised the talent of Thomas Cromwell and his strategy to use Acts of Parliament and he appointed Cranmer to the post of archbishop of Canterbury even though he was an unlikely choice. He also allowed Anne to be an increasing prominence at court through the 1530’s and took her to France where she became pregnant which increased the urgency for the divorce.
Although Anne was an important person in bringing about the kings divorce the skills and knowledge of Cromwell and Cranmer help to facilitate it. Anne was the reason for the divorce and the case for it she was also the catalyst which sped up the divorce and without Anne there may have been no need for Cromwell and Cranmer.