The Act in Restraint of Appeals (1533) was the start of a political process that effectively transferred the power of the Catholic Church to the king, Henry VIII and his advisors/government. The Act was passed by a Parliament that was anti-clerical as it was and had listed its grievances against the Church as early as 1529. Rather than have a king foist the act on the people – at a time when religion was a hugely important factor in the lives of all people – Thomas Cromwell came up with the idea of giving the act a political and democratic edge. By going through Parliament, it appeared as if the will of the people had been listened to as the MP’s in Parliament represented the people (in theory). Therefore, no one could argue that just a few had imposed the act on the nation. Thomas Cromwell took great care in drafting the act. It had to serve the king’s wish, which was to give his divorce from Catherine of Aragon a legal basis, therefore giving legitimacy to his marriage to Anne Boleyn.
“Where by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same, unto whom a body politic, compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of spirituality and temporalty, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience; he being also institute and furnished by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God with plenary, whole and entire power, pre-eminence, authority, prerogative and jurisdiction to render and yield justice and final determination to all manner of folk resiants or subjects within this realm, in all causes, manners, debates and contentions happening to occur, insurge or begin within the limits thereof, without restraint or provocation to any foreign princes or potentates of the world; the body spiritual whereof having power when any cause of the law divine happened to come in question or of spiritual learning, then it was declared, interpreted and shewed by that part of the said body politic called spirituality, now being usually called the English Church, which hath been reputed and also found of that sort that both for knowledge, integrity and sufficiency of number, it hath been always thought and is also at this hour sufficient and meet of itself, without the intermeddling of any exterior person or persons, to declare and determine all such doubts and to administer all such offices and duties as to their rooms spiritual doth appertain. For the due administration whereof and to keep them from corruption and sinister affection the King’s most noble progenitors, and the antecessors of the nobles of this realm, have sufficiently endowed the said Church both with honour and possession. And the laws temporal for trial and propriety of lands and goods, and for the conservation of the people of this realm in unity and peace without ravin or spoil, was and yet is administered, and executed by sundry judges and administers of the other part of the said body politic called the temporalty, and both their authorities and jurisdictions do conjoin together in the due administration of justice the one to help the other. And whereas the King his most noble progenitors, and the nobility and commons of this said realm, at divers and sundry Parliaments as well in the time of King Edward I, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, and the other noble kings of the realm, made sundry ordinances, laws, statutes and provisions for the entire and sure conservation of the prerogatives, liberties and pre-eminences of the said imperial crown of this realm, and of the jurisdictions spiritual and temporal of the same, to keep it from the annoyance as well as the see of Rome as from the authority of other foreign potentates attempting the diminution or violation thereof as often and from time to time as any such annoyance or attempt might be known or espied. And not withstanding the said good estatutes and ordinances made in the time of the King’s most noble progenitors in preservation of the authority and prerogative of the said imperial crown as is aforesaid, yet nevertheless since the making of the said good statutes and ordinances divers and sundry inconveniences and dangers not provided for plainly by the said former acts, statutes and ordinances have risen and sprung by reason of appeals sued out of this realm to the see of Rome, in causes testamentary, causes of matrimony and divorces, rights of tithes, oblations and obventions, not only to the great inquietation, vexation, trouble, costs and charges of the King’s Highness and many of his subjects and resiants in this his realm, but also to the great delay and let to the true and speedy determination of the said causes, for so much as the parties appealing to the said court of Rome most commonly do the same for the delay of justice; and forasmuch as the great distance of way is so far out of this realm, so that the necessary proofs nor the true knowledge of the cause can neither there be so well known nor the witnesses there so well examined as within this realm, so that the parties grieved by means of the said appeals be most times without remedy.”
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