August 31, 1535: Pope Paul II excommunicates English King Henry VIII, who had been declared by an earlier pope as "Most Christian King" and "Defender of the Faith" (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).
August 31, 1688: English Puritan writer and preacher John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, dies at age 60. Though one of England's most famous authors even in his own day, he maintained his pastoral duties to his death, which was caused by a cold he caught while riding through the rain to reconcile a father and son (see issue 11: John Bunyan).
June 15, 1215: King John signs the Magna Carta, which begins, "The Church of England shall be free.
June 15, 1520: In the papal encyclical "Exsurge Domine," Leo X condemns Martin Luther on 41 of counts of heresy, branding him an enemy of the Roman Catholic Church. After the encyclical, Luther's works were burned in Rome (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).