It still amazes me how one man could be denied a divorce that was easily obtained by most nobles by means of various loopholes in the canon law. The intense corruption of the Catholic Church meant that such dispensations were easily achieved by rich and powerful nobles, but the same backfired on Henry. The Great Matter was divided in two phases, one when Henry tried to get Rome’s support for his divorce, and the next phase when he tried to get the work done in England by Englishmen. Wolsey was in charge of the first phase, and Cromwell of the second, bringing about the fall of the former and the rise of the latter.
As a follow up to Hannah’s excellent post on Henry’s need for a son, I decided to do a couple of posts on the intricacies of Henry’s divorce, also known as the Great Matter. But a little background first, on Henry’s perception of his relationship with Catherine, with respect to the need for a son. Even though the King remained a perfect gentleman and did his duty by the Queen (namely, sleep with her and escort her on royal occasions), the bond between them was broken long before Anne Boleyn entered the picture.