Acrylic on canvas
60 x 50 cm

In 1534 Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy declaring King Henry VIII and his successors as the Supreme Head of the Church, replacing the Pope. There were a number of reasons for this Act, but primarily the need for a male heir to the throne. Henry tried for years to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and he had convinced himself that God was punishing him for marrying his brother's widow. The then reigning Pope Clement VII refused to grant the annulment because, according to Roman Catholic teaching, a validly contracted marriage is indivisible until death. But Clement died the following year and a new Pope had to be elected. Pope Paul III, who was born Alessandro Farnese, became Pontiff in 1534 and took on the job of organising the Counter Reformation. When it became clear Henry was intent on demolishing the Catholic Church in England, Paul III issued the original papal bull - edict - drawn up by Clement VII. He lost patience with Henry after he declared himself head of the Church of England and started ordering the execution of anyone who stood in his way. King Henry was saying ‘I don’t want my rights to marry who I wish to be decided by a foreign court’. The Roman Catholic church of the time looks very much like the European Union of today - an international body with its own body of law, general assembly and elected head. All the other EU countries now and the churches then are subordinate. The resemblances are quite striking. The whole point of the talk is Henry’s decision to break with this took England in a very different direction. For 500 years, Great Britain’s propaganda boomed out that Britain was different, separate and renowned for doing things the British way. When the modern Brexit referendum took place in 2016, Henry VIII won again.