The story of Henry VIII’s divorce and break with Rome is well known. What has rarely, if ever, been attempted, is to consider it from the viewpoint of Rome. Jack Scarisbrick’s mould-breaking 1968 biography of Henry VIII made some effort to do so. Since then, the discoveries of the original research dossiers supplied to Henry for his divorce campaign, compiled by his English advisers, and of drafts of several of the ‘king’s books’ – written in whole or part by Henry himself on the topic – have triggered a quantum leap in our understanding, but from the perspective of London and the royal court.
In her first book, Catherine Fletcher seeks to remedy the imbalance. Formerly a BBC researcher and producer working on the live television coverage of Parliament, she draws on her extensive researches in Italy, aiming to gain the inside track on the story. Her achievement is to have rediscovered many of