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Henry VIII, King of England (1491-1547)

Assertio Septem Sacramentorum adversus Martinum Lutherum 1521

RCIN 1006836

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The title page of Henry VIII’s work attacking the reforming ideas of Martin Luther, was copied from a design by Holbein featuring the Roman hero Mucius Scaevola. During the siege of Rome by the Etruscans, Mucius Scaevola mistakenly stabbed a scribe instead of the Etruscan king Porsenna. He burned his right hand to show his indifference to threats of torture. Both the title page imagery and the book’s text portrayed Henry as the defender of the Roman faith against Luther’s reforming ideas. In gratitude Pope Leo X gave Henry the title ‘Fidei Defensor’ (Defender of the Faith), a style still used by The Queen today.