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Interesting look at Henry VIII's quest for a divorce.,
This review is from: Our Man in Rome: Henry VIII and his Italian Ambassador (Hardcover)British scholar Catherine Fletcher has written a fascinating view of both the political and religious machinations behind the divorce of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Her book, "The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican", is just that, and spotlights the work done by "agents" of Henry and their work in Italy. Also interesting are the actions of the pope, Clement VII.
One of the most interesting points that Fletcher makes is that through Henry's "agent", Gregorio Casali, "we see England from the outside, from Rome, from Italy, from Europe. There, Henry VIII was not the caricature fat tyrant, nor yet the virtuous Renaissance prince, BUT A MID-RANKING NORTHERN MONARCH, a player on the European stage, but FAR FROM THE STAR OF THE SHOW." The "stars"? Oh, those would be the Habsburg Charles V, France's Francis I, and to a certain extent, Pope Clement. Lurking in the background of power would be that pesky Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, who was very upset about abuses of power and other corruption of the Catholic Church.
Henry's desire for first an annulment, and then a divorce from wife Catherine, began in the mid-1520's, when he realised that he would never get a son as heir from Catherine. Their marriage had produced only a daughter, the Princess Mary. In love or lust with a fast-rising young woman at court, Anne Boleyn, Henry thought that youth and beauty and political sophistication would be just the thing in a second wife. So he began to work towards that end. An annulment of a royal marriage was not unheard of in 16th century England; Henry's older sister Margaret successfully petitioned for the annulment of her marriage to Scottish noble Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Angus a few years previously. But Henry's application for annulment was complicated by the fact that he'd had to petition a previous pope for the right to marry Catherine after his brother's death. Complicating things further was Clement's relationship with Charles V, whose forces conquered Rome and proceeded to sack the city. Clement was captured by Charles and was held for six months, but then was "allowed" to escape his captivity. These events on the larger European scene were being played out as Clement debated whether or not to even hear the case - his recent captor, Charles, was nephew of the now-discarded Catherine.
Henry decided to use all means and people to help persuade the Vatican to issue his divorce. Several of those were Italians who knew the ins-and-outs of Vatican and Continental politics and were in the best position to help get divorce done. One of these men was Gregorio Casali, who was of a large, noble family, with influence and fingers in a lot of pies. He served Henry fairly faithfully, without a great deal of financial remuneration, and he and his contacts got things moving. In the end, Henry went ahead and married Anne and the divorce wasn't needed with Catherine's death in 1536.
Fletcher's research and writing on Gregorio Casali and the other non-Englishmen involved in the divorce is well-done and always interesting. She takes an event - Henry's search for a divorce - and "flips" it - showing how it was seen from the Vatican's side. She writes well on the continental politics as they differed from the British. A very good slice of history.