Appendix: A. List of Documents Relative to the Divorce of Henry VIII

Pages 42-43

Report to the Master of the Rolls On Documents in the Archives of Venice. Originally published by Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, London, 1866.

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A. List of Documents Relative to the Divorce of Henry VIII

HENRY VII. Divorce.— Document inspected at the Archives on Monday the 11th Sept. 1865.

Filza, Parti Secrete. Council of X.
Motion made by the counsellors (with the exception of Georgio (fn. 1) ) and by the chiefs of the Ten.

1530, May 12. Council of X. and junta to Marco Dandolo, LL.D., and knight resident at Padua. (fn. 2)

You have perfect recollection of the request made to us heretofore by the King of England concerning the divorce, and in like manner on the other hand of what the Emperor seemed to wish us to do in this matter, as notified by his ambassador. As we are again urged by both parties to decide, we, with our Council of Ten and junta, think fit to write you these letters, relying, as we ought, on your intelligent prudence and address, and that you will execute our intention as recommended, and above all that it be kept a close secret.

We therefore charge you, first of all, to confer forthwith with the excellent D. Pietro Paulo Parisio, and to tell him in our name how agreeable it was to us to hear the reply given by his Excellency in this matter to the agents of said English King, declining, as he did, to undertake or give advice in this case (“di voler consigliar a questa causa”) on the accounts prudently alleged by him; the parties concerned being such as they are, and to avoid offending whom every effort should be made. By giving counsel in favour of either side in so serious and uncommon a case, the other must feel great resentment against the adviser (“ consultore”), who will never be free from the indignation and peril which might befall him from the injured party. After having commended the prudent resolve of his Excellency in this matter, you will exhort him to persevere therein, giving it to be understood, whenever requested in the King's name to that effect,—and in like manner should it chance that the Queen make a similar application,—that he does not mean to change his opinion; not, however, letting it appear, at the risk of losing the signory's favour, that this proceeds from you, as we doubt not his Excellency will do, knowing him to be both prudent and well affected towards our affairs.

After having performed this office with the said Parisio, you will take an opportunity of conferring with the excellent D. Francischino da Conte, and with each of the other jurists and theologians who lecture in ordinary at that University, receiving salary from the State, and whose names will be noted hereunder. You will, however, speak to them apart one from the other, and in the name of our aforesaid Council of Ten and junta acquaint them secretly with out above-mentioned desire, that they do not interfere in this business either at the suit of the King or of the Queen. But you will first of all do your utmost to ascertain whether any of them have given advice in this divorce case (“haver già consigliato a ditta causa “del divortio”), and not having done so, you will charge them to decline doing so, apologizing on the plea of their own personal interests which compel them to act thus, in order not to disoblige any of the parties, who would consider themselves offended to all eternity. Should they tell you that they have already given advice in this case (“consigliato ad essa “causa”), but not yet pronounced their opinion (“ ma non ancora proferto “il parer suo”), you will enjoin them to suppress it, assigning the above-written excuses. Above all, you will warn them to do the whole as of their own accord, not showing (inasmuch as they wish to keep in favour with us) that this thing proceeds from us, but from themselves on the accounts above alleged; and for greater security you will administer an oath to each of them not to tell any one soever that this thing proceeds from us; and the reply made to you by each of these professors you will notify to us by your letters addressed to the chiefs of the Council aforesaid. If, more clearly to express this our desire, you shall think fit to show and read to them these present, you may do so, regulating yourself throughout with such good manner and dexterous form of speech as we may expect from your prudence and diligence, and as becoming a matter so arduous and important; and above all we again enjoin secresy wherein consists the chief foundation of our desire.

And ex nunc be it carried that by such means as shall seem best to our college, it be intimated to the Rev. Frà D. Francesco Georgio, in the name of this Council, to abstain from giving any counsel or interfering in this matter, and that our college be empowered to communicate our present decree to the imperial ambassador in the presence of the chiefs of this Council.

Ayes, 19. Noes, 1. Neutrals, 2.

May 12th.

Then follow ten other documents concerning the same subject, decreed or proposed by the same.

Acknowledge receipt of the reply of Marco Dandolo, and complain of the determination of D. Mariano to favour the divorce.

June 3rd.
Inform the ambassador in England of what had taken place about the divorce.

June 4th.
Letter to the King of England, referring him to the Venetian ambassador for account of their reply to the King's message delivered by Cassalis.

July 20th.
From the same to the same. Acknowledge receipt of his letter (4 kalends July) delivered by the Bishop of London (John Stockesley), Cassalis, and Croke. The King will have heard through Falier and by their letters, of the inability of the State to give him fuller satisfaction. Expected the King to be satisfied, and regret that he is not.

July 20th.
Motion made and lost for a reply to Stockesley, Cassalis, and Croke.

July 20th.
Letter to Falier; assign reasons for their inability to satisfy the King about the divorce.

July 30th.
Letter to the ambassador in England; mention violent language used by Stockesley, and the effect it produced on the merchants.

Dec. 1st.
To (the Captain of Padua?) Giovanni Vitturi. Is to authorize Pietro Paulo Parisio, professor of civil law, to give counsel about the divorce of England at the. suit of the imperial ambassador.

Vitturi is also to tell Marco da Mantoa; lecturer in canon law at Padua, to give a full copy of what he counselled in this affair of the divorce, together with the names of the doctors who signed this opinion.

Dec. 10th.
The Captain of Padua to desire Pietro Paulo Parisio to come to Venice, when the Doge is to tell him that he is at liberty to give counsel about the divorce.

Dec. 17th.
Permission for the imperial ambassador to transcribe the opinion given by D. Marco da Mantoa concerning the divorce.


  • 1. It is probable that the counsellor Georgio declined being a party to this motion because his relative, the Franciscan friar, Francisco Georgio, had composed a work in favour of the divorce.
  • 2. Marco Dandolo was not either “Podesta” or captain at Padua in the year 1530, but held the post of professor of law in the University, of which it may be supposed that he was a very influential member, and therefore the Ten addressed themselves to him.