Buy a copy of Henry VIII’s annulment request

If you’ve got about US$68,000 to spare.

From the New York Times:

The Vatican has opened its Secret Archives, the repository of centuries worth of documents pertaining to the Holy See, to let the world get a closer look at a document presaging England’s split from the Church of Rome. Dated July 13, 1530 and addressed to Pope Clement VII, the letter asks for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and includes the seals of dozens of peers of England who concurred with the request. A facsimile of the document will go on sale next month for about $68,000 from Venice-based publisher Scrinium, which plans a limited run of 199 copies.

Full article (with picture)

Page at the Vatican Secret Archives with more information on the document (with larger picture)

Wow, that is a LOT of seals!


  1. A facsimile for $68,000? That’s absurd. I hope nobody buys it. That document should be freely available to anybody who wants a copy.

    You know, something just occurred to me reading this. There are World Heritage Sites so designated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to “conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity”.

    Why isn’t there a similar committee to conserve and make freely available documents of the same importance to the heritage of humanity?

    Charging that kind of price from something that should be free is nothing more than usury.

  2. Do you get the seals as well?
    Poor Katherine didn’t stand a chance!

  3. For such a high price, I would imagine that facsimiles of the seals are included with the reproduction document. My question is whether the facsimiles of the seals will be sufficiently well made as to include the fingerprints that must surely be impressed into some of the seals? In the larger photo at the Vatican website, you can clearly see the outline of the fingers that pressed the wax into the tin “caskets” before the seals were impressed into the wax. I’ve seen ancient fingerprints on wax seals before, and always thought they were fascinating.

    As for Kathy R’s objection to the restricted availability of such documents, all I can say is that they are considered private property. UNESCO World Heritage and other similar organizations cannot force an owner private property to allow public access to his/her property. They can only “encourage.” But the documents in the Vatican archives are considered to be the private property of the Holy See. And sadly, the Holy See has a long history of keeping its secrets. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that they are releasing this specific document.

    What they really need is something similar to the British “Historical Manuscripts Commission,” which over the past couple of centuries has been transcribing and publishing collections of documents in the UK that are still in private hands. Or maybe the Holy See can learn a lesson from the Marquess of Salisbury and have the documents put on microfilm (though the Salisbury Manuscript microfilms are still available in only a handful of places … primarily the British Library in London and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC).

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