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A Church in Transition: The Intriguing Use of the Pallium in Tudor England

  • PAUL AYRIS (a1)


What was the source of authority in the Church in Tudor England? This article traces the use of an ancient symbol of the power of metropolitan archbishops, the woollen pallium, between 1533 and 1603. The later Henrician Church saw this garment as a sign of royal supremacy. Under Mary, however, Archbishop Pole made extravagant claims which led the Elizabethan Church to reject earlier Tudor notions of this symbol. Set against the backdrop of the source of episcopal jurisdiction, this article traces the use of the pallium in England in a Church moving from Roman obedience to a Protestant settlement.



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1 SR iii. 492.

2 For a full analysis of Cranmer's visitation see Ayris, P., ‘Thomas Cranmer and the metropolitical visitation of Canterbury province, 1533–53’, in Taylor, Stephen (ed.), From Cranmer to Davidson: a Church of England miscellany (Church of England Record Society vii, 1999), 146 .

3 For Cranmer's commission see BL, ms Add. 48022, fo. 98r–v, and TNA, PROB 11/25, fo. 315, calendared in Ayris, P., ‘The public career of Thomas Cranmer’, Reformation & Renaissance Review iv (2000), 90–1.

4 For more details on this and what follows see Ayris, P., ‘Continuity and change in diocese and province: the role of a Tudor bishop’, HJ xxxix (1996), 296–7.

5 The royal injunctions are printed in Gee, H. and Hardy, W. J. (eds), Documents illustrative of English church history, London 1896, 269–74, 275–81. Manuscript copies can be found in Thomas Cranmer's register, LPL, fos 97–9, 99v–101r, 215v–216v. For a variant version of the 1536 injunctions see Cambridge University Library, SEL.3.196.

6 BL, ms Add. 48022, fos 92–3, printed in D. Wilkins, Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae, London 1737, iii. 810.

7 Miscellaneous writings and letters of Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, martyr, ed. Cox, J. E. (Parker Society, 1846), 338 .

8 Cranmer's register, fos 28v–29r (Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 2–3).

9 For the text of Edward's injunctions see Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 3–9.

10 Cranmer's register, fo. 14; ‘regina’ interlined in the manuscript; printed in Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 88, where the queen's writ is dated 4 Aug. 1553.

11 For a definitive examination of Mary's official style see <>.

12 SR iv/1, 246–54.

13 Documents illustrative of English church history, 380–3, from Edmund Bonner's London register, now kept in London Metropolitan Archives as DL/A/A/006/MS09531/012/002.

14 For an overview of Mary's episcopate see Loades, D., ‘The Marian episcopate’, in Duffy, E. and Loades, D. (eds), The Church of Mary Tudor, Aldershot 2006, 3356 .

15 SR iv/1, 33–4.

16 SR iv/1, 202.

17 Strype, J., Ecclesiastical memorials, Oxford 1822 , iii/2, 488, forming Pole's oration to the citizens of London. This is quoted in D. Loades, ‘The bishops of the restored Catholic Church under Queen Mary’, in Miscellanea Historiae Ecclesiasticae viii (Bibliothèque de la Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique, fascicule lxxii, 1987), 343.

18 Reginald Pole's register, LPL, fos 1v–6v.

19 R. H. Pogson, ‘Cardinal Pole: papal legate to England in Mary Tudor's reign’, unpubl. PhD diss.  Cambridge 1972, esp. pp. 139–54. The text of the amplification can be found in Burnet, G., History of the Reformation of the Church of England, ed. Pocock, N., Oxford 1865 , vi. 322–7.

20 Pogson, ‘Pole’, 199.

21 Loades, ‘Marian episcopate’, 34–5.

22 This crucial manuscript is Bibliothèque municipale, Douai, ms 922. There is a microfilm copy in Lambeth Palace Library, microfilm mss 2–3. See also Garrett, C. H., ‘The legatine register of Cardinal Pole, 1554–57’, Journal of Modern History xiii (1941), 189–94; Pogson, ‘Pole’, 173; and Mayer, T. F., Reginald Pole prince and prophet, Cambridge 2000, 254 and n. 16.

23 Cardinal Pole's legatine register, i, fos 1–3, printed in Estcourt, E. E., The question of Anglican ordinations discussed, London 1873 , pp. xxxvi–xxxvii.

24 Handbook of British chronology, ed. Fryde, E. B., Greenway, D. E., Porter, S. and Roy, I., 3rd edn, London 1986 , where the dates of consecration are listed under each see.

25 Loades, ‘Marian episcopate’, 36; ‘Reginald Pole’, ODNB.

26 The correspondence of Reginald Pole, ed. Mayer, Thomas, Aldershot 2002–8, ii, no. 995.

27 Pole's legatine register, fos 43r–44r, 45v–46v, 47r–48r, 56v–58v, 65v–67v. This is discussed in Messenger, E. C., The Reformation, the mass and the priesthood, London 1936–7, ii. 121–2, which gives a description of the process followed.

28 Correspondence of Reginald Pole, ii, nos 841, 867.

29 Ibid. iii, no. 1054; J. Strype, Memorials of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (Ecclesiastical History Society, 1848–54), iii, appendix, no. lxxxi, 501–5.

30 Pole's legatine register, i, fos 32r–35r.

31 Ibid. i, fo. 35v.

32 Listed in Correspondence of Reginald Pole, iii, no. 1054.

33 Pogson, ‘Pole’, 187; Correspondence of Reginald Pole, iii. 34 n. 86.

34 State papers … King Henry VIII, London 1830–52, vii. 425; LP vi, 177.

35 Cranmer's register, fos 1r–5v. These documents are all transcribed/calendared in P. Ayris, ‘Thomas Cranmer's register: a record of archiepiscopal administration in diocese and province’, unpubl. PhD diss. Cambridge 1984, 368–81. For the general background concerning Cranmer's appointment to Canterbury see Ayris, P., ‘God's Vicegerent and Christ's Vicar: the relationship between the Crown and the archbishopric of Canterbury, 1533–53’, in Ayris, P. and Selwyn, D. G. (eds), Thomas Cranmer: churchman and scholar, Woodbridge 1993, 116–21, and MacCulloch, D., Thomas Cranmer: a life, New Haven–London 1996, 88–9.

36 Cranmer's register, fos 1v–2r.

37 Ibid. fos 3v–4r.

38 Ibid. fo. 4r.

39 William Warham's register, LPL, fo. 2v. See also Cranmer's register, fos 1v–2r.

40 State papers … King Henry VIII, vii. 425; LP vi. 177.

41 For a fuller analysis of the significance of Cranmer's protestation see Ayris, ‘Relationship’, 120–1, and ‘Thomas Cranmer's register’, 179–87.

42 SR iii. 462–4.

43 Cranmer (Canterbury), Gardiner (Winchester), Clerk (Bath and Wells), Stokesley (London), Goodrich (Ely), Longland (Lincoln), Kite (Carlisle), Lee (York), Salcott (Bangor), Sherborne (Chichester) and Lee (Coventry and Lichfield) made the renunciation in February; Tunstall (Durham), Veysey (Exeter), Nykke (Norwich) and Booth (Hereford) swore the oath in March; Rawlins (St David's) in April and Standish (St Asaph's) in June: LP viii. 190, 311, 494, 803.

44 Both Goodrich and Salcott, for example, were appointed in this way: Cranmer's register, fos 81r–87v, 157–63.

45 LP viii. 190. The original renunciation survives: TNA, E 25, 26 pt 3.

46 For Rowland Lee's renunciation as bishop of Coventry and Lichfield see Rymer, T., Foedera, conventiones literae et cujuscunque generis acta publica, London 1704–35, xiv. 549–50. An English translation of the Latin renunciation sworn by Stephen Gardiner is given in Foxe, J., Acts and monuments, ed. Pratt, J., London 1877, v. 71–2.

47 MacCulloch, Cranmer, 11–12 and illustration 3; a colour version appears on the dustjacket.

48 Cranmer's seals have been discussed in Gorham, G. C., ‘Archbishop Cranmer's seals 1533 to 1538’, in Gleanings of a few scattered ears, during the period of the Reformation in England and of the times immediately succeeding, A. D. 1533 to A. D. 1588, London 1857, 114 , and MacCulloch, Cranmer, 9–11, 117–19, 228–9, 238.

49 Cranmer's register, fos 306–10, 183r–187v respectively.

50 The record in Cranmer's register for Browne's appointment is important, because no equivalent records exist in Dublin, the diocesan records having been largely destroyed in the fire in the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922. For the purposes of this article, only those Irish archbishops recognised by the Tudor monarchy and government in London have been considered here. Scarcely any Irish records concerning the use of the pallium seem to exist for any of the post-Reformation Irish archdioceses: Dublin, Tuam, Cashel and Armagh. No early modern archiepiscopal registers survive for Cashel and Tuam: Edwards, R. W. Dudley and O'Dowd, M., Sources for early modern Irish history, 1534–1641, Cambridge 1985, 69 . For Armagh, there is one relevant record, the Liber niger of Archbishop George Dowdall, now curated in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: PRONI, D10/4/2/13. Dowdall's register for 1540–6 exists only in the form of a late seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century transcript. A calendar of it by L. P. Murray was published in the Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society vi (1925–8), 90–100, 147–58, 213–28; vii (1929–32), 78–95, 258–75. I am grateful to Dr Raymond Refaussé, Librarian and Archivist, Representative Church Body Library, Dublin, for his guidance on issues concerning the sixteenth-century Irish Church and for providing me with scans and listings of relevant ecclesiastical materials.

51 Borthwick Institute, York University Library, register 29, fos 12r–109v.

52 The register of Henry Chichele, ed. Jacob, E. F. and Johnson, H. C. (Canterbury and York Society xlii, xlv–xlvii, 1937–47), i. 1517 .

53 Cranmer's register, fos 306–10.

54 State papers … King Henry VIII, vii. 425; LP vi. 177.

55 This seems to have confused the archbishop's staff who were compiling the official record in his register. The marginal heading ‘Landaven’ has been struck through and replaced with ‘Eboracen’.

56 SR iii. 955–6.

57 Cranmer's register, fo. 306r–v.

58 Chichele register, i. 17; cf. Cranmer's register, fos 309v–310r.

59 For a comparison of the Latin wording used at the bestowal of the pallium on Archbishop Chichele (1414) with that used for Robert Holgate (1545) see Ayris, ‘Thomas Cranmer's register’, 88.

60 Cf. Dickens, A. G., Robert Holgate: archbishop of York and president of the King's Council in the North, London 1955, 18 . Stubbs argued that whilst the prayers were almost identical to those customarily used, the benedictio palii was possibly an original creation: Stubbs, W., ‘Archbishop Holdegate's pall’, Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review n.s. ix (1860), 522–4.

61 Handbook of British chronology, 379.

62 See n. 50 above. See also Jefferies, H. A., ‘Primate George Dowdall and the Marian restoration’, Seanchas Ardmhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society xvii/2 (1998), 118 .

63 Brady, W. M., The episcopal succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, 1400–1875, Rome 1876, i. 218 .

64 Handbook of British chronology, 391; ‘Hugh Curwen’, ODNB; Brady, Episcopal succession, i. 327.

65 ‘Nicholas Heath’, ODNB; Messenger, Reformation, ii. 121.

66 Borthwick Institute, York University Library, register 29, fos 111r–112v. See also J. S. Purvis, ‘The register of Archbishops Lee and Holgate’, this Journal xiii (1962), 186–94.

67 Pole's register, fos 1v–6v.

68 Ibid. fo. 3r.

69 Ibid. fos 4r–v. With minor verbal variations this wording is the same as appears in the register on fo. 3r.

70 Ibid. fo. 3v.

71 See Mayer, T. F., ‘A reluctant author: Cardinal Pole and his manuscripts’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society lxxxix/iv (1999), 70–1. I am immensely grateful to the late and much missed Professor Mayer for furnishing me with notes from his various readings of Pole's works, and for the opportunity to discuss with him the significance of Pole's exposition of the meaning of the pallium.

72 Biblioteca apostolica Vaticana, Rome, ms Vat. Lat. 5968, fo. 401r, available as microfilm 33 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. These early microfilms were made for R. W. Schenk for his 1950 biography of Pole, Reginald Pole: cardinal of England, London 1950 ; they were also consulted by Dermot Fenlon for his Heresy and obedience in Tridentine Italy: Cardinal Pole & the Counter Reformation, Cambridge 1972. I am grateful to Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, and to Bruce Barker-Benfield for facilitating my access to this microfilm.

73 Following Mayer, Prince and prophet, 245–6, I have used ms Vat. Lat. 5968, fos 401r (402r)–418r in the analysis and quotations here; this text is a fair copy of Pole's sermon.

74 For this and what follows see Correspondence of Reginald Pole, iii.

75 Ibid. iii, no. 1461, based on Pole's register, fo. 4r–v.

76 Correspondence of Reginald Pole, iii, no. 1484.

77 Ibid.  iii, no. 1496, cf. nos 1499B, 1507, 1508, 1516, 1520.

78 Ibid. iii, no. 1524.

79 ‘the’ interlined in the manuscript.

80 ms Vat. Lat. 5968, fos 401r (402r)–418r, which is described in the manuscript as ‘Homilia prima Anglice scripta’.

81 Pole's register, fo. [iir].

82 For an overview of the importance of the English sermons in Pole's ministry see Duffy, E., Fires of faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, New Haven 2009, 51–4.

83 Pole's register, fo. 3v.

84 Parker, M., De antiquitate Britannicae ecclesiae, London 1572, 417 .

85 Matthew Parker's register, LPL, i [fo. 1], noted in Registrum Matthei Parker diocesis Cantuariensis, A. D. 1559–1575, transcribed by Thompson, E. M. and edited by Frere, W. H. (Canterbury and York Society xxxv–vi, xxxix, 1928–33), i. 1 .

86 Edmund Grindal's register, LPL, i, fo. 1r.

87 Borthwick Institute, York University Library, registers 30, 31. Records for the appointments of successive archbishops of York in the Elizabethan period are to be found in the Canterbury registers. For Thomas Young (1561–8) see Parker's register, Registrum Matthei Parker, i. 109–11, and Parker's register, i, fos 92v–96v. For Grindal (1570–6) see Registrum Matthaei Parker, i. 136–43, and Parker's register, i, fos 126v–129v. For Edwin Sandys (1577–88) see Grindal's register, i, fos 18v–23r. For John Piers (1589–94) see John Whitgift's register, LPL, i, fos 63r–66v. For Matthew Hutton (1595–1606) see Whitgift's register, ii, fos 45v–50v.

88 Parker, De antiquitate, 417.

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