chapter  5
24 Pages


This parliamentary productivity was not achieved without criticism and even, in the early l530s, signs of organised opposition (see pp. 66-7). Nevertheless the range, volume and importance of the official business successfully transacted can be attributed to the high degree of co-operation between King, Lords and Commons, and to parliamentary acquiescence in royal designs. Repeatedly it delegated legislative authority to Henry: for example, the right to enforce the Act in Restraint of Annates and the union of Wales and England, to alter the succession, and to dissolve chan tries as and when he chose. And in 1539, after a good deal of debate and amendment, it backed the enforcement of proclamations with statutory authority (55, pp. 285-6). At the same time the King and his ministers showed an inclination to refer all important proposals for change to Parliament, even Cromwell's bureaucratic reorganisation of government departments, which required no such sanction (52). Those statutes which dealt with administrative restructuring signified royal and ministerial confidence in Parliament. Resort to it, first for resolution of the King's 'great matter', and then for all the changes which followed in its train, was not the result of some brilliant political insight on the part of Henry VIII or his minister. The institution, as the public forum of the governing elite, was the only place where Henry could secure that elite's support, and it provided the only mechanism which could give legal force to his actions. There was no alternative to a parliamentary solution of the King's problems.