When Henry VIII declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, establishing the Anglican Church and allowing him to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Sir Thomas More, one of the king’s oldest and closest advisors, resigned as his chancellor. Deeply concerned about the King’s break with Rome, More continued to argue against the split with Rome and refused to swear an oath repudiating the pope and accepting the annulment of Henry’s marriage.
Henry responded by having More arrested and put on trial for Treason. More was tried at Westminster on the 6th July 1535. In responding to the guilty ruling he first argued that the act of supremacy was directly repugnant to the laws of God and the Church, “the Supreme Government of which, or of any part thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St. Peter, and the Bishops of Rome his Successors only”. More went further though. Not only was the act contrary to the laws which governed the Church, it was also contrary to the rights of the Church as defined by Magna Carta, the first clause of which reads:
FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.