A trial at the Old Bailey in London as drawn by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin for Ackermann's Microcosm of London (1808–11).

Legal procedure within secular and religious legal systems for declaring a marriage null and void.

- Annulment

442 related topics


Church of England

Established Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion.

Hereford Cathedral is one of the church's 43 cathedrals; many have histories stretching back centuries
Thomas Cranmer was the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury and principal compiler of the Book of Common Prayer
Major repairs were done to Canterbury Cathedral after the Restoration in 1660.
Captain John Smith's 1624 map of Bermuda, showing St Peter's at centre, left
One of the now "redundant" buildings, Holy Trinity Church, Wensley, in North Yorkshire; much of the current structure was built in the 14th and 15th centuries
Richard Hooker (1554–1600), one of the most influential figures in shaping Anglican theology and self-identity
Canterbury Cathedral houses the cathedra or episcopal chair of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is the cathedral of the Diocese of Canterbury and the mother church of the Church of England as well as a focus for the Anglican Communion
Stained glass window in Rochester Cathedral, Kent
Dioceses of the Church of England
The parish church of St Lawrence in Toot Baldon is typical of many small English village churches
Map showing the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe with the archdeaconries colour-coded
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

The English church renounced papal authority in 1534 when Henry VIII failed to secure a papal annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Void marriage

Marriage that is unlawful or invalid under the laws of the jurisdiction where it is entered.


In some jurisdictions a void marriage must still be terminated by annulment, or an annulment may be required to remove any legal impediment to a subsequent marriage.


Mandated, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another.

Elkanah and his two wives
Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, was exposed as a bigamist in 1540 by his sister, Elisabeth

Republic of Ireland: A criminal offence under section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, up to seven years' imprisonment. The Director of Public Prosecutions has discretion and rarely prosecutes. Catholic canon law permits a second marriage if the first was in a UK register office or annulled by the church; the state considered such marriages bigamous without a civil annulment (more restricted than a church annulment) or divorce (illegal from 1937 until 1996) and two cases in the 1960s led to suspended sentences. The 1861 act replaced an 1829 act which in turn replaced acts of 1725 and 1635.

Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom governing divorce law and marriage in England and Wales.

A graphic representation of the legislative procedure in the United Kingdom.

Under section 24(1), when granting a divorce, decree of nullity of marriage or judicial separation the court can order (subject to restrictions in ss 29(1) and (3) relating to children of the age of majority other than those still in school or in other special circumstances):


First act of sexual intercourse between two people, following their marriage to each other.

Illustration from Tacuinum Sanitatis, a medieval handbook on wellness

Thus in some legal systems a marriage may be annulled if it has not been consummated.


Process of terminating a marriage or marital union.

"Just Divorced!" hand-written on an automobile's rear window.
Roman married couple.
Henry VIII of England broke with the Catholic Church in order to obtain an annulment.
Joséphine, first wife of Napoleon, obtained the civil dissolution of her marriage under the Napoleonic Code of 1804.
Marilyn Monroe signing divorce papers with celebrity attorney Jerry Giesler.

Divorce is different from annulment, which declares the marriage null and void, with legal separation or de jure separation (a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married) or with de facto separation (a process where the spouses informally stop cohabiting).

Catherine of Aragon

Queen Catherine c. 1520
Portrait by Juan de Flandes thought to be of 11-year-old Catherine. She resembles her sister Joanna of Castile.
Portrait of a noblewoman, possibly Mary Tudor c. 1514 or Catherine of Aragon c. 1502, by Michael Sittow. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
16th-century woodcut of the coronation of Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon showing their heraldic badges, the Tudor Rose and the Pomegranate of Granada
Henry VIII at the time of their marriage
Catherine watching Henry jousting in her honour after giving birth to a son. Henry's horse mantle is emblazoned with Catherine's initial letter, 'K.'
The Trial of Queen Catherine of Aragon, by Henry Nelson O'Neil (1846–1848, Birmingham Museums)
The Lady Mary, Catherine and Henry's daughter
Statue of Catherine at Alcalá de Henares
Grave of Catherine of Aragon in Peterborough Cathedral
Catherine of Aragon's arms while queen

Catherine of Aragon (Catalina; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII from their marriage on 11 June 1509 until their annulment on 23 May 1533.

Anne of Cleves

Queen of England from 6 January to 12 July 1540 as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII.

Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1539. Oil and tempera on parchment mounted on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Portrait Miniature of Anne of Cleves, 1539, Hans Holbein the Younger (V & A Museum)
A portrait of Anne in the 1540s by Bartholomäus Bruyn the elder
Anne of Cleves' arms as queen consort

Following the annulment, Henry gave her a generous settlement, and she was thereafter known as the King's Beloved Sister.

Forced marriage

Marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without their consent or against their will.

Criticism about the Azeri forced marriage tradition from early 20th-century satirical periodical Molla Nasraddin. Forced marriage is the theme for the cartoon with the caption – Free love. The image should be read from right to left. The first picture in the right: Should you not want to go voluntarily, I will take you by force. In the next picture: The akhund – cleric says: "Lady, since you don't say anything, it seems that you agree. By the order of God I marry you to this gentleman".
Unequal marriage, a 19th-century painting by Russian artist Pukirev. It depicts an arranged marriage where a young girl is forced to marry against her will.
Forced Marriage Unit campaign
Prime Minister David Cameron accompanied by Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone visited the Forced Marriage Unit, 8 June 2012 to meet with campaigners Aneeta Prem, Jasvinder Sanghera and Diana Nammi to discuss the new legislation and the range of measures that will be introduced to increase support and protection for victims.
Forced Marriage Unit, UK

Victims may be able to seek redress through annulment or divorce.

Anne Boleyn

Queen of England from 1533 to 1536, as the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Near contemporary portrait of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle, c. 1550
Anne's sister Mary Boleyn
Claude of France, wife of Francis I. Anne served as her maid of honour for nearly seven years.
An early-20th-century painting of Anne Boleyn, depicting her deer hunting with the king
Catherine of Aragon, Henry's first wife and queen
Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein the Younger, around 1537
Anne Boleyn's coat of arms as Queen Consort
Bishop John Fisher, by Hans Holbein the Younger. Fisher refused to recognise Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn.
Greenwich Palace, also known as the Palace of Placentia, after a 17th-century drawing
Henry's reconciliation with Anne Boleyn, by George Cruikshank, 19th century
Jane Seymour became Henry's third wife shortly after Anne's execution.
Thomas Cromwell, Anne's one-time strong ally, with whom she clashed over foreign policy and the redistribution of church wealth. Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1532.
Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Édouard Cibot (1799–1877)
Thomas Cranmer, who was the sole supporter of Anne in the council
Grave marker
St Mary's Church, Erwarton, Suffolk, where Boleyn's heart was allegedly buried

Henry soon focused his desires on annulling his marriage to Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne.