E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Defender of the Faith.
A title given by Pope Leo X. to Henry VIII. of England, in 1521, for a Latin treatise On the Seven Sacraments. Many previous kings, and even subjects, had been termed defenders of the Catholic faith, defenders of the Church, and so on, but no one had borne it as a title. The sovereign of Spain is entitled Catholic, and of France Most Christian.
God bless the king! I mean the faiths defender!
God blessno harm in blessing the Pretender.
But who Pretender is, or who is king
God bless us all! thats quite another thing.
John Byron: Shorthand Writer.
Richard II., in a writ to the sheriffs, uses these words: Ecclesia cujus nos defensor sumus, and Henry VII., in the Black Book, is called Defender of the Faith; but the pope gave the title to Henry VIII., and from that time to this it has been perpetuated. (See GRACELESS FLORIN.)