Brown , Anthony Steven (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This study argues that Leo X’s naming Henry VIII ‘fidei defensor’ (1521) represented the culmination of a political strategy aimed at protecting the papacy from France since 1509. Based on full reconstruction of the Anglo-papal narrative, this was found to be motivated by a xenophobia rooted in England’s historic rivalry with France and further fuelled by the prospect that French hegemony in Italy would limit papal ‘independence’. While Henry preferred military means to pursue this, limitations of English power and geography sometimes forced him to employ peaceful methods to divert the French from Italy (1517 on). This thesis was tested on several aspects of the Anglo-papal relationship: papal honours, censures, the influencing of conclaves and composition of the cardinalate. In each, Henry acted as the papacy’s ‘loyal’ defender against France, expecting active support from and to be appropriately rewarded by Rome, particularly by the politicised invocation of papal ‘spiritual’ authority. Furthermore, popes cultivated this English self-perception when they sought support against France. In consequent attempts by both parties to assert political leverage over each other, Henry occasionally succeeded in gaining concessions from Rome (a cardinal’s hat here, an honorary award there), but often found it difficult to capitalise on this.
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