#OTD in 1533 – England’s King Henry VIII, Lord of Ireland and ‘self declared’ King of Ireland (1541) marries Anne Boleyn after divorcing Catherine of Aragon.

Norman and English monarchs used the title ‘Lord of Ireland’ to refer to their Irish conquests dating from the Norman invasion of Ireland. In passing the Crown of Ireland Act 1542, the Irish Parliament granted Henry, by his command, a new title – King of Ireland. The state was renamed the Kingdom of Ireland. The King desired this innovation because the Lordship of Ireland had been granted by the Papacy; technically, he held the Lordship in fief from the Pope. As Henry had been excommunicated, he worried that his title could be withdrawn by his overlord – the Pope.

Henry also arranged for the Irish Parliament to declare him the head of the ‘Church in Ireland’. The main instrument of state power in the establishment of the state church in the new Kingdom of Ireland was the Archbishop of Dublin, George Brown. He was appointed by the King upon the death of the incumbent, though without the approval of the Pope. The Archbishop arrived in Ireland in 1536. The reforms were continued by Henry’s successor – Edward VI of England. The Church of Ireland claims Apostolic succession because of the continuity in the hierarchy; however this claim is disputed by the Roman Catholic Church, which asserts that only those bishops approved by and in communion with the Holy See are ‘legitimate’.

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