76. WILL OF HENRY VIII (1546)[1]

Henry R. In the name of God and of the glorious and blessed Virgin, our Lady Saint Mary, and of all the holy company of heaven, we, Henry, by the grace of God king of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and in earth immediately under God the supreme head of the Church of England and Ireland, of that name the eighth, calling to our remembrance the great gifts and benefits of Almighty God given to us in this transitory life, give unto Him our most lowly and humble thanks, acknowledging ourself insufficient in any part to deserve or recompense the same, but fear that we have not worthily received the same....

We will by these presents that, immediately after our departure out of this present life, our said son Edward shall have and enjoy the said imperial crown and realm of England and Ireland, our title to France, with all dignities, honours, pre-eminences, prerogatives, authorities, and jurisdictions, lands and possessions, to the same annexed or belonging to him and to his heirs of his body lawfully begotten.

And for default of such issue of our said son Prince Edward's body lawfully begotten, we will the said imperial crown and other the premises, after our two deceases, shall wholly remain and come to the heirs of our body lawfully begotten of the body of our entirely beloved wife, Queen Katherine, that now is, or of any other our lawful wife that we shall hereafter marry. And for lack of such issue and heirs ... , the said imperial crown and all other the premises shall wholly remain and come to our said daughter Mary and the heirs of her body lawfully begotten; upon condition that our said daughter Mary, after our decease, shall not marry nor take any person to her husband without the assent and consent of the privy councillors and others appointed by us to our dearest son Prince Edward aforesaid to be of council.... We will that, after our decease, and for default of issue of ... our daughter Mary, the said imperial crown and other the premises shall wholly remain and come to our said daughter Elizabeth and to the heirs of her body lawfully begotten; upon condition [etc.] ... [2]

Also we, being now at this time (thanks be to Almighty God!) of perfect memory, do constitute and ordain these personages following our executors and performers of this our last will and testament....[3] And all these we will to be our executors and councillors of the privy council with our said son Prince Edward, in all matters concerning both his private affairs and public affairs of the realm.... Whom we ordain, name, and appoint, and by these presents signed with our hand do make and constitute of privy council with our said son; and will that they have the government of our most dear son Prince Edward and of all our realms, dominions, and subjects, and of all the affairs public and private, until he shall have fully completed the eighteenth year of his age....

Rymer, Foedera, XV, 110-15.

[1] On the authenticity of this document, see Pollard, Protector Somerset, pp. 3 f.

[2] Here follow similar provisions establishing the succession to the crown in favour of his nieces, Frances and Eleanor; and, should they have no lawful issue, in favour of "the next rightful heirs."

[3] The archbishop of Canterbury, the lord chancellor, and fourteen others.