Blog Template Theology of the Body: How Henry VIII Raised the Dead

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How Henry VIII Raised the Dead

"Monks, friars, and nuns were in the strange position of being considered dead to the world, a principle of Catholic Canon Law once recognized by English common law for the purposes of property and contract. Upon profession in monastic orders, the monk gave up his secular and legal personality, his real property descended to his heir, and his personal estate was subject to administration, as if he had become dead to the world in order to live to Christ.

This Law of Profession came to an end in 1539 when, after dissolving the monestaries, the founder of Anglicanism brought all religious persons back from the dead.

However, in the Statute 31 of Henry VIII, c. 6., the good king added a clause which prevented any of the renounced rights of inheritance from materially reviving, so that the former Catholic religious were really stumped.

King Henry's clincher followed in the introduction of manifold new statutory "treasons" which were introduced in order to stiffle both opposition to the king's divorce and entrance into the religious life, so that even the mere expression of Catholic opinion, by words or thoughts, could in some cases could constitute high treason.

Sir Thomas More was excuted in 1535 for his allegiance to Rome under the first of these statutes, which modern scholars call "the most repressive body of penal legislation ever passed in England."

J.H. Baker, English Legal History

467, 527