Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Concluded). page 18
Cromer, the Archbishop of Armagh, earnestly entreated Aim not to plunge himself into a quarrel so hopeless as that with England; but in vain. The strains of an Irish, minstrel, uttered in his native tongue, had more influence with him, for they called on him to revenge his father, to free Ireland; and the incensed youth flew to arms. For a time success attended him. He overran the rich district of Fingal; the natives flocked to his standard; the Irish minstrels, in wild songs, stirred the people to frenzy; and surprising Allen, the Archbishop of Dublin, on the very point of escaping to England, and supposed to be one of the accusers of the Earl of Kildare, they murdered him in presence of the young chief and his brothers. He then sent a deputation to Rome, offering, on condition that the Pope should give him the support of his sanction,, to defend Ireland against an apostate prince, and to pay a handsome annual tribute to the Holy See. He sent ambassadors also to the emperor, demanding assistance against the prince who had so grossly insulted him. by divorcing his aunt, Queen Catherine. Five of his uncles joined him, but he was repulsed from the walls of Dublin, The strong castle of Maynooth was carried by assault by the new deputy, Sir William Skeffington; and in the month of October Lord Leonard Gray, the son of the Marquis of Dorset, arriving from England, at the head of fresh forces, chased him into the fastnesses of Munster and Connaught. On hearing of this ill-advised rebellion, the poor Earl of Kildare, already stricken with palsy, sickened and died in the Tower.
Lord Gray did not trust simply to his arms in the difficult country into which the Eitzgeralds had retired; he employed money freely to bribe the natives, who led him through the defiles of the mountains, and the passable tracks of the morasses, into the retreats of the enemy. He found the County of Kildare almost entirely desolated. Six out of the eight baronies were burnt; and where this was not the case, the people had fled, leaving the corn in the fields. Meath was equally ravaged; and the towns throughout the south of Ireland, added to the horrors of civil war, found the ravages of fever and pestilence prevailing; Dublin itself being more frightfully decimated than the provincial cities. The English Government sent very little money to the troops, and left them to subsist by plunder; and they first seized all the cattle, corn, and provisions, and then laid waste the country by fire. By March, 1535, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald was reduced to such extremity that he wrote to Lord Gray, begging him to become intercessor betwixt the king and himself. Lord Gray, there can be little doubt, promised Fitzgerald a full pardon, on which he surrendered. But Skeffington wrote to the king that Fitzgerald, finding that O'Connor, his principal supporter, had come in and yielded, "the young traitor, Thomas Fitzgerald, had done the same, without condition of pardon of life, lands, and goods."
But this assertion is clearly contradicted by the council in Dublin, who wrote entreating the king to be merciful to the said Thomas, to whom they had given comfortable promises. O'Connor had been too wise to put himself into the power of Henry on the strength of any promises: he delivered only certain hostages as security for his good behaviour; but Lord Thomas was carried over to England by Lord Gray, where he was committed to the Tower. Gray was immediately sent back to Ireland, with the full command of the army there, and he was instructed above all things to secure the persons of the five uncles of Lord Fitzgerald. Accordingly, on the 14th of February, 1536, the council of Ireland sent to Cromwell, then minister, an exulting message; that Lord Gray, the chief justice, and others, had captured the five brethren, which they pronounced to be "the first deed that ever was done for the weal of the king's poor subjects of that land." They added, "We assure your mastership that the said lord justice, the treasurer of the king's wars, and such others as his grace put in trust in this behalf, have highly deserved his most gracious thanks for the politic and secret conveying of the matter." But the truth was, that this politic and secret management was one of the most disgraceful pieces of treachery which ever was transacted - the Fitzgeralds being seized at a banquet to which both parties had proceeded under the most solemn pledges of mutual faith. They were conveyed at once to London, and, in February, 1537, the young earl and his five uncles were beheaded, after a long and cruel imprisonment in the Tower. Their unprincipled betrayer, however, did not long enjoy the fruits of his treachery. He was made Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland as a reward for his dishonourable service, but was soon removed on charges of misconduct, committed to one of the very cells which his victims had occupied, and was beheaded on Tower Hill, as a traitor, on the 28th of June, 1541, ending his life, according to Godwin, very quietly and godlily. Gray certainly deserved better treatment of Henry; for, though his conduct was infamous to the Fitzgeralds, it was most useful to the English king. The rival factions of Fitzgeralds and Butlers continuing to resist the English power, Gray contended against them till, by his brilliant victory at Bellahoe he broke the power of O'Neil, the northern chieftain, and confirmed the power of England. Yet, being uncle, by his sister, to the last surviving male heir of the Fitzgeralds - Gerald, the youngest brother of the unfortunate Lord Thomas, a boy of only twelve years of age - he was accused of favouring his escape, and all his services were forgotten by his ungrateful sovereign. The young Gerald Fitzgerald escaped to the Continent by the aid of a sea captain of St. Malo, and ultimately to Italy, where he lived under the patronage and protection of his kinsman, Cardinal Pole, till he eventually recovered the honours and estates of his ancestors, in the reign of Queen Mary, at the suggestion of the cardinal.
After the recall of Lord Gray, O'Connor, O'Neil, M'Mordo, and the O'Tholes excited fresh insurrections, but they were speedily put down, and in 1541 Anthony St. Leger found both the Irish chiefs and the lords of the pale eagerly outstripping each other in professions of loyalty. In 1541 Henry raised Ireland from the rank of a lordship to that of a kingdom, and granted letters patent to the Irish chiefs, by the advice of Sir Thomas Cusake, though unwillingly. Thus, by securing them in possession of their lands, and raising them to new honours, he gained their devoted attachment. Henry gave them houses in Dublin, which they were to inhabit when summoned as peers of the Irish Parliament. Ulliac de Burg was made Earl of Clanricarde, Murroch O'Brien Earl of Thomond, and the great O'Neil became henceforth known by his new title of Earl of Tyrone. The Irish council was instructed to proceed with the suppression of the monasteries, though cautiously, not urging the monks too rigorously, lest they stirred up opposition, but desirably persuading them, that "the lands of the Church were his proper inheritance." These matters were so well carried out, that the ascendancy of England had never appeared so firmly established since the first invasion of the island by Henry II.
Our last glance at Scotland was when Henry, having suddenly lost Jane Seymour, was endeavouring to persuade Francis I. to prevail upon Mary of Guise, the widow of the Duke de Longueville, to become his wife^, Both Francis and Mary of Guise replied that the thing was impossible, the lady being already engaged to his nephew, James of Scotland. Henry in vain endeavoured to pluck the prize from his nephew. Mary of Guise proceeded to Scotland, and the marriage was celebrated in the cathedral of St. Andrews, in 1538. This marriage was undoubtedly intended by the Romanist party in Scotland to strengthen the attachment of the Government in that country to the old faith. The negotiation for a French princess had been entrusted to David Beaton, abbot of Arbroath, afterwards Bishop of Mirepoix, and next Cardinal of St. Andrews, accompanied by Lord Maxwell and the master of Glencairn. The princess was of a house attached to the Roman Catholic faith, and other circumstances tended to throw the weight into that scale. James of Scotland, on his visit to France in 1537, when he traversed the country from Dieppe to Provence, everywhere heard the bitter terms of execration in which the cruelty and rapacity of his uncle, Henry of England, were spoken of. The Pilgrimage of Grace, which had just preceded his journey, had given him a warning of what he might expect from attacking the property of the Church. In England, the power of the aristocracy had been broken down before Henry VIII. came to the throne, and there was little to be feared from some increase of wealth amongst them; but in Scotland the case was different. There the aristocracy was still intact and strong, though many of them were poor, and still more would have gladly laid a greedy hand on the ecclesiastical property. But to increase the power of the nobles by destroying that of the Church, the only counterbalancing power, would have been an impolitic measure in James, and these reasons kept him back from listening to the invitations from Henry to follow his example. On the other hand, the emperor and Francis I. endeavoured to maintain his friendship as a check upon Henry, and the Pope naturally united with the clergy in giving all their influence to the Church in Scotland which was possible.
In 1539 David Beaton succeeded his uncle, James Beaton, in the primacy, and the Pope, to add additional honours to so devoted a servant, presented him with a cardinal's hat. It was at this crisis that the Pope,^ acting in concert with France and Spain, sent Cardinal Pole to co-operate with the Scotch in annoying Henry, and James being applied to by the Pontiff Paul, declared himself willing to unite with Francis I. and the emperor in the endeavour to convert or punish the heretical English king. As if to show Henry that there was no prospect of any co-operation of James with him, the fires of persecution were kindled by Beaton and his coadjutors against the Protestants in that kingdom, and this again drove the Reformers to make common cause with the Earl of Angus and other Scottish exiles in England. Henry, to encourage the Protestants, and to warn James if possible, sent to him his rising diplomatist, Sir Ralph Sadler, who represented to James that Henry was much nearer related to him than were any of the Continental sovereigns, and who endeavoured to prevent there the publication of the bill of excommunication.
But it became necessarily a pitched battle betwixt the Papist party in Scotland and Henry. They beheld with natural alarm his destruction of the Papal Church in England, an example of the most terrible kind to all other national churches of the same creed; and Henry, on the other hand, knew that so long as that faith was in the ascendant in Scotland, there would be no assured quiet in his own kingdom. It was the one proximate and exposed quarter through which the Pope and his abettors on the Continent could perpetually assail him. From this moment, therefore, Henry spared no money, no negotiation, no pains to break down the Roman Catholic ascendancy in Scotland.
In 1540 he again sent Sir Ralph Sadler to James, who took him a present of a dozen fine stallions. At the private interview which Sadler solicited, he read to James an intercepted letter of Beaton's to the Pope, from which the ambassador endeavoured to make it appear that the cardinal was aiming at subjecting the royal authority to that of the Pope. James rather disconcerted the minister by laughing when he had heard the letter, and telling him that the cardinal had long ago given him a copy of it. Sadler, who was too practised a statesman to be foiled by such a circumstance, returned to the charge, and added that Henry was ashamed of the meanness of his nephew, who kept large flocks of sheep, as if he were a husbandman and not a king. If he wanted money, he could enrich himself by shearing the ecclesiastical sheep; he need only make the experiment, and he would find that the dissolute lives of the monks would justify his sequestration of their property, as much as had been the case in England. But James was alike impossible to arguments founded either on horses or sheep. He replied that he had sufficient property of his own, without coveting that of others; and that the Church need not be destroyed to supply his wants, it was ready to aid him freely; that undoubtedly there were monks and clergymen who disgraced their profession, but it was not in accordance with his notions of justice to punish the innocent with the guilty.
Failing again, Sadler tried to awaken the ambition of James by representing how near he was to the English throne, and intimated that his uncle was seriously disposed to name him as his heir and successor in case of anything happening to his only son, Prince Edward. He invited James to meet his loving uncle at York, where they might discuss and settle these matters. James parried this proposal by making it an absolute condition that their mutual ally, Francis I., should be present; and Sadler was compelled to return, ascribing his failure to the firm hold that the clergy had on the Scottish monarch. And, indeed, these solicitations on the side of England only drove the Scottish hierarchy to severer measures, and led James to sanction it in cruelty and persecution. It was enacted in the next Parliament that it was a capital offence to question the supreme authority of the Pope ; that no private meetings, conventicles, or societies for the discussion of religious questions should be allowed; informers were tempted by high rewards to betray them; and no good Catholic was to have intercourse with any one who had, at any time, been heretical in his or her opinions, however nearly allied in blood. It was declared a damnable offence to deface or throw down images of the Virgin and the saints; and, finally, all clergymen, of all ranks and kinds, were called upon to reform their lives, so as to give no ground of reproach or argument to the enemy.
In the spring of 1541 the Cardinal Beaton, and Panter, the Royal secretary, were dispatched to Borne with secret instructions. This alarmed Henry, and yet afforded him a hope of making an impression on his nephew whilst the cardinal was away. Once more, therefore, he invited James to meet him at York. Lord William Howard, who was his envoy on the occasion, induced James to promise to meet Henry there, and we have seen him on his way accompanied by his bride, Catherine Howard, to the place of rendezvous. But James came not; and Henry, enraged, vowed that he would compel James by force to do that which he would not concede to persuasion.
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