And we can’t even ‘blame’ Henry VIII or Elizabeth I for this dictum. We have to go all the way to the year 1701.
James I and VI (I of England, VI of Scotland) was the Protestant son of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, having succeeded to the Scottish throne at the age of 1 when his mother was forced to abdicate, and who never afterward saw her at all since she fled to England and was imprisoned by Elizabeth until her trial and execution in 1587.
James’ son Charles I, however, had Catholic leanings and married a Catholic (Henrietta Maria). Indeed, many people in England were lessening their ill will toward Catholicism because of the rise of the Puritans (who hated Catholics but also hated moderate Protestants as well and whose narrow, punitive, harsh and domineering Protestantism was legendary.) Under Cromwell they deposed and executed Charles on trumped up charges and Cromwell ruled England until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, about 2 years after the death of Cromwell.
James II and VII (II of England, VII of Scotland) succeeded to the throne on the death of his brother Charles II (the “restoration King”) in the 1680s. James had converted to Catholicism (and Charles had also converted before he died as well, but kept it quiet, being the pragmatic type). Though Charles had many issue out of wedlock (his mistresses included Barbara Duchess of Cleveland and Nelly Gwyn), his Queen Catherine was barren so there was no legal heir (Charles’ oldest illegitimate son James Duke of Monmouth led a rebellion against his uncle, James II in 1685 but this failed and he was executed). James’s first wife (who was a commoner, Anne, the daughter of Edward Hyde) had died; their issue were Mary (who married William of Orange) and Anne (who married Prince George of Denmark).
Mary and William had no children. Anne gave birth to 18 children, only one of whom lived beyond infancy (Prince William) but died at age 11.
When James married a second time to the Catholic Mary of Modena, ‘the people’ became concerned about the idea of a “Catholic heir” succeeding. (Anne and Mary were raised, and remained, Protestants, being forcibly taken from the ‘pernicious influence’ of their own father, then a Prince). Queen Mary and King James then had a son (James Edward) born in 1688 but some of the court (including Princess Anne) refused to believe in the birth and claimed that the true royal infant had been born dead and this SON 'smuggled in, in a warming pan."
James was deposed and fled with his family. This was termed the “Glorious Revolution.” William and Mary ruled jointly, having usurped/been offered the throne, and William ruled alone after Mary’s death to his own death in 1702. It was in 1701 that the Act of Settlement ruled that no Catholic could inherit the throne. Then Anne ruled after William’s death. Since she had no male (or female) heirs of the body, with her death the throne passed to the Elector of Hanover as the closest Protestant male heir (You know him better as King George I). James Edward, son of James II (and know to Protestant history as the Old Pretender) tried to raise up followers in 1715 but failed (hence the term ‘Jacobite’ often sneeringly used to refer to someone who supported the early Torys who were for the Stuart royalty) and HIS son you’ll know as Bonnie Prince Charlie who tried the same thing in 1745. . .
This was also when England and Scotland formally (and reluctantly on both sides, for some) came together with the Act of Union in 1707, partly to keep the Scots from choosing a different (Stuart) heir for the Scottish kingdom, even though the Scots were as ‘divided’ as the English with the lowland Scots being Protestant but the Highland Scots bravely Catholic.
So, 300 years on, and the tinder that sparked the whole thing was a totally fabricated “Popish Plot” invented by one Titus Oakes which was skillfully used to ‘fan the flames’ of antiCatholicism and deny the rightful king’s rule. . .
Makes you think, doesn’t it?