Shaggy dog story

Doing some research into medieval scandals and papal annulments, I chanced across historical fiction author Susan Higginbotham’s hilarious description of an annulment granted to the real-life Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel. This beats the hell out of Henry VIII’s consanguinity argument.

In December 1344, Richard Fitzalan succeeded in having his marriage to Isabella annulled on the ground that the couple had expressly renounced their vows at puberty but had been “forced by blows to cohabit, so that a son was born.” If the Pope or his deputy had any doubts as to why Richard had waited seventeen years after the birth of that son before attempting to secure an annulment (“Well, I was going to get around to it, but . . .”), he kept them to himself.

— Higginbotham, Susan. “Divorce, Medieval Style.”, c. 2006.

i.e. I didn’t want to, but my relatives beat me up until I had sex with my wife…

That’s the best you can come up with? For the Pope. Really?

If I had been the Pontiff of the day, that letter would have been framed on a wall somewhere. Cardinals would still be laughing about it today.

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