Home » Nations » United Kingdom » England » Monarchs » Royal Styles: 1521-1553


England: Royal Styles: 1521-1553

Defender of the Faith

Pope Leo X (pontificate 11 Mar 1513 - 1 Dec 1521) conferred on Henry VIII the title of Defender of the Faith as a reward for his book against Martin Luther, "Assertio septem sacramentorum adversus Martinum Lutherum" ("The Assertion of the Seven Sacraments Against Martin Luther"). The king's envoys in Rome followed with frantic energy the negotiations over the desired style, where the book served merely as a pretext to move the long-standing matter along. After many ugly alternatives had been discarded, the Bull awarding to Henry VIII the style "defensor fidei" was finally issued by the Pope on 11 Oct 1521.

Nos [...] qui in hac Sancta Sede a qua omnes dignitates ac tituli emanant, sedemus [...] Majestati tuae titulum hunc, videlicet Fidei Defensorem, donare decrevimus, prout te tali titulo per praesentes insignimus, mandantes omnibus Christifidelibus, ut Majestatem tuam hoc titulo nominent, & cum ad eam scribent, post dictionem Regi adjungant Fidei defensori.
We [...] who sit in this Holy See from which all dignities and titles emanate [...] decree that we grant to your majesty this title, namely Defender of the Faith, asking all Christians to style you with this title, and when they write to you, to insert "Defender of the Faith" after the word "king".

After the breach with Rome, Pope Paul III withdrew the designation Defender of the Faith, but this had no legal impact in England, since Henry VIII maintained it and it appears in all the statutory documents. In 1544 "An Act for the ratification of the King's Majesty's style" (35 Henry VIII c.3) confirmed its validity.

Supreme Head of the Church of England

The Act of Supremacy ("An Act concerning the King's Highness to be supreme head of the Church of England and to have authority to reform and redress all errors heresies and abuses in the same," 26 Henry VIII c.1), passed by the Parliament on 3 Nov 1534, conferred on King Henry VIII the title of supreme head of the Church of England, nullifying the Pope's authority in England and giving the king the right to reform the church and to judge heresies.

Be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament that the King our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia, and shall have and enjoy annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm as well the title and style thereof, as all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities, to the said dignity of supreme head of the same Church belonging and appertaining.

Henry VIII formally announced the new style in the presence of the leading officers of state on 15 Jan 1535 sitting in his Privy Chamber.

Supreme Head of the Church of Ireland

The English Act of Supremacy was followed by "An Act authorising the King, his Heirs and Successors, to be Supreme Head of the Church of Ireland" (28 Henry VIII c.5) passed by the Parliament of Ireland between 13 Oct 1536 and 20 Dec 1536.

Like as the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognised by the clergy, and authorised by an Act of Parliament made and established in the same Realm: so in like manner of wise, forasmuch as this land of Ireland is depending and belonging justly and rightfully to the imperial Crown of England, ... be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that the King our sovereign lord, and his heirs and successors, Kings of the said Realm of England, and Lords of this said land of Ireland, shall be accepted, taken, and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the whole Church of Ireland ... and shall have and enjoy, annexed and united to the imperial Crown of England, as well the title and style thereof, ...
King of Ireland

In 1537 the Master of the Rolls called the attention of the royal commissioners to the fact that many of the Irish regarded the Pope as the temporal sovereign of Ireland and the King of England only as Lord of Ireland by virtue of the Papal authority, and advised them that Henry VIII should be proclaimed King of Ireland by an Act of Parliament. This advice was approved by Staples, Bishop of Meath (1538), and was endorsed by the Lord Deputy Anthony St. Leger and council in a letter addressed to Henry VIII in December 1540. The suggestion was accepted by the king, who empowered St. Leger to summon a Parliament to give it effect (1541).

The bill was passed by both houses and the Lord Deputy "consented" (i.e., gave the royal assent) to it on 18 Jun 1541. On Sunday, 19 Jun 1541, "An Act that the King of England, his Heirs and Successors, be Kings of Ireland" (33 Henry VIII, c.1) was solemnly proclaimed in the Irish Parliament

Forasmuch as the King our most gracious dread sovereign lord, and his Grace's most noble progenitors, Kings of England, have been Lords of this land of Ireland, having all manner kingly jurisdiction, power, pre-eminences, and authority royal, belonging or appertaining to the royal estate and majesty of a king, by the name of Lords of Ireland, where the King's Majesty and his most noble progenitors justly and rightfully were, and of right ought to be, Kings of Ireland ...
... be it enacted, ordained and established by authority of this present Parliament, that the King's Highness, his heirs and successors, Kings of England, be always Kings of this land of Ireland, and that his Majesty, heirs and successors, have the name, style, title, and honour of King of this land of Ireland, with all manner honours, pre-eminences, prerogatives, dignities, and other things whatsoever they be to the estate and majesty of a King imperial appertaining or belonging; and that his Majesty, his heirs and successors, be from henceforth named, called, accepted, reputed, and taken to be Kings of this land of Ireland, to have, hold, and enjoy the said style, title, majesty and honours of King of Ireland, with all manner pre-eminences, prerogatives, dignities, and all other the premises unto the King's Highness, his heirs and successors for ever, as united and knit to the imperial crown of the Realm of England...

The heralds at Greenwich proclaimed Henry VIII by this title on 7 Jul 1541, but Henry was not satisfied. He thought that it was derogatory to his honor and to his hereditary claim to Ireland that he should accept a title which had been offered to him by the Irish Parliament; and he insisted that there should be verbal changes in the title to make it clear that it was not a Parliamentary one.

The Proclamation was issued on 23 Jan 1542 and proclaimed in London on 6 Feb 1542 making the title official. It also made a provision that all documents that do not contain the change and are dated before 30 Apr 1542 are valid.

Where we be justly and rightfully King in our realm of Ireland, and ought to have the title, style, and name thereof by right of inheritance, and the non-use thereof in our style hath caused much disobedience, rebellion, dissension and sedition in our said realm ... And forasmuch as our loving subjects in our said realm, both the prelates, nobles, and commons, do think and determine, that the good estate, peace, and tranquillity, wherein our said realm now standeth, shall the better and longer continue, if we would as we ought of right, accept and take upon us the title and name of King of the same; which to do all our said subjects, of our said realm, by their mutual assents, by authority of parliament holden within the same, have agreed and assented unto ... To which their desires and humble requests, for the better conservation of the good peace of our said realm, we have assented, and have caused for that purpose our style to be altered and reformed, as well in the Latin as in the English tongue, as hereafter followeth ... Henry VIII, by the grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and also in Ireland in Earth the Supreme Head.
The Act of 1544

The final confirmation of Henry's titles was done by passing "An Act for the ratification of the King's Majesty's style" (35 Henry VIII c.3; the session of Parliament began on 14 Jan 1544 after prorogation, and ended in March 1544).

Where our most dread natural and gracious sovereign liege lord the King hath heretofore been, and is justly, lawfully and notoriously named and declared to be, King of England, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, and of the church of England, and also of Ireland, in earth supreme head ... That all and singular his Grace's subjects and resiants... shall from henceforth accept and take the same his Majesty's stile ... Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God King of England, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, and of the church of England, and also of Ireland, in earth the supreme head.

 


[1] "Tudor Royal Proclamations", compiled by Paul L. Hughes and James F. Larkin, 3 volumes (Yale University Press, 1964-1969).
[2] "Reform and Reformation: England 1509-1558", by G.R. Elton (Harvard Univ. Press 1977).
[3] "Irish History from Contemporary Sources (1509-1610)", by Constantia Maxwell (George Allen&Unwin, London 1923).
[4] "Henry VIII", by Jasper Ridley (Constable, London 1984).
[5] "Henry VIII", by J.J. Scarisbrick (Univ. of California Press 1968).

This page was last updated on: 13 Mar 2010 01:47:19

Main Projects


    twitter
    rss