The circumstances of the times favoured his exercise of arbitrary power, and there is no record of this or any other country which exhibits a prince so thoroughly trampling down every liberty of the subject, every safeguard of life, and even of self-respect in his most exalted subjects.
But the Wars of the Roses had laid the aristocracy at his feet; the breach with Rome laid the Church there too. The Protestants and Romanists became pretty equally divided, courted with abject jealousy his smiles, to give them the ascendency, and, holding the balance, he made this the means of his most marvellous dominance. Other monarchs sought to reign without Parliaments, but Henry, by the terror of the axe and the gibbet, awed his Parliament into such slavish obedience, that he was enabled to commit his worst actions under a show of constitution and law. If it be difficult for us now to realise such monstrous deeds of political murder, such wholesale scenes of national rapine, as perpetrated on English ground, it is equally so to conceive the scene of base adulation which the Court and Parliament then presented. Rich assured him that he was a Solomon in wisdom, a Samson in strength and courage, an Absalom in beauty and grace of manners; and Audeley, his chancellor, declared that God had anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows, and that he exceeded all kings in wisdom, all generals in victory, that he had prostrated the Roman Goliath, and given thirty years of peace and blessings to his realm, such as no country at any time had ever enjoyed. Whenever, during this harangue, the words "Most Sacred Majesty" occurred, or any similar term of homage, the whole of the lords arose, and they and the entire assembly bowed profoundly towards the throned demigod. The clergy in Convocation echoed this disgusting hypocrisy, declaring that he was the image of God upon earth; that to disobey him was as heinous as to disobey God himself; to limit his authority was not merely an offence to him, but to God as well. The fumigated idol drank all in, and believed it so true that he treated his worshippers as they well deserved; took their money at will, trod upon them at pleasure, put them to death without jury and without form of law, like miserable reptiles as they made themselves, and left them to reap in coming years a rich harvest of humiliations and sufferings.