‘A Glasse of the Truthe’

Extract from a letter from Richard Croke to Thomas Cromwell, 23 September 1532 (SP1/71 f.48r-48v)

Henry VIII’s ‘A Glasse of the Truthe’ was a key publication in the early propaganda campaign which outlined his position early in 1532. Partly written by Henry VIII, it drew on a number of earlier key texts, including the ‘Collectanea satis copiosa’.  It argued that the royal marriage was invalid because no one could marry their brother’s widow and the Pope could not exempt a marriage from this law. English bishops, namely archbishops, could settle the matter within the realm. This was not a ‘popular’ text as it over 80 pages long and beyond the means of ordinary people.


My deutye [remembered duty] your Mastership shall understand that I have bestowed the glass of truth every one and many there, besides Master Roper that cannot believe that it is the king’s writing. And yet all they confess that his graces … excellent wit and termys [expression] is able to do [document faded] than there all be it they suppose that [his] highness lacks the leisure so profoundly to search and bolte [quickly produce] out a matter of so great difficulty … The common [opinion] is that this book by all means … hath done more to the performance of the king’s cause than all the books preaching teaching or other things that hath been set forth, for the furtherance of the same, I assure you many by the reading of this book hath here altered their stubborn and affectious mind toward the contrary. As this bearer, if he liste [wishes] can somewhat inform you which is a young man excellently learned in the Greek and Latin tongue… I assure you I have seen no man able to do more in this cause than the king himself hath done in this book and the arguments… to have been made to the contrary all be it will it in these few days bring this unto you with their answers

[f. 48v]
when I confer [that] the reasons of the [book] ‘glass of truth’ to carry very heavy to themselves: and by reason thereof to be dull and of none effect…

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