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The Reign of Queen Mary page 5

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The next Bill went to restore the Papal Church in England, stopping short, however, of the supremacy. This received no opposition in the House of Lords, but occasioned a debate of two days in the Commons. It passed, however, eventually without a division, and by it was swept away at once the whole system of Protestantism established by Cranmer during the reign of Edward VI. The reformed liturgy, which the Parliament of that monarch had declared was framed by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, was now pronounced to be "a new thing, imagined and devised by a few of singular opinions." This abolished the marriages of priests and illegitimated their children. From the 20th day of the next month divine worship was to be performed, and the sacraments administered, as in the last year of the reign of Henry VIII. Thus were the tyrannic Six Articles restored, and all but the Papal supremacy. Even the discussion of the ritual and doctrines of Edward VI. became so warm, that the queen prorogued Parliament for three days. On calling the House of Commons together again, and proceeding with the Bill, no mention was made of the restoration of the Church property, though the queen was anxious to restore all that was in the hands of the Crown; for the Lords, and gentlemen even of the House of Commons, who were in possession of those lands, would have raised a far different opposition to that which was manifested regarding the State religion.

No sooner were these Bills passed than the clergy met in convocation, and passed decrees for the speedy enforcement of all the new regulations.- Gardiner had taken care to dismiss all such bishops as he knew would not readily comply. The sentiments expressed in this convocation were those of the most unchecked exultation in the restoration of Popery, even from those who had professed to be zealous Protestants before the accession of Mary, and the adulation of the queen was something almost unparalleled in the king-worship of Courts. The Bishop of London's chaplain, who opened the convocation with a sermon, compared Mary to all the most extraordinary women who ever appeared. She was equal to Miriam, Deborah, Esther, and Judith of the Old Testament, and nearly so to the Virgin Mary. He was now succeeded by Weston the prolocutor, who dwelt, moreover, at great length on the persecution of the Papal prelates and clergy during the last reign, as a hint of what ought now to be the treatment of their enemies. The convocation was not slow to learn. It declared the Book of Common Prayer an abomination, and ordered the immediate suppression of the reformed catechism. It was a curious fact, that amongst the pernicious books which had been used in the reformed worship, was the queen's own translation of the Paraphrases of Erasmus, which, being completed by Udal and Cox, had been ordered to be placed in all the churches along with the Bible as its best exposition. Thus the queen was made to condemn her own literary labour to the flames as heretical.

The persecution of the reformed clergy who had stood firm became vehement. The married clergy were called upon to abandon their wives, and there was a rush of the expelled priests again to fill their pulpits. In the cities there was considerable opposition, for there the people had read and reflected, but generally throughout the agricultural districts the change took place with the ease and rapidity of the scene-shifting at a theatre. Many of the married priests, however, would not abandon their wives and children, and were turned adrift into the highways, or were thrust into prison. Many fled abroad, hoping for more Christian treatment from the reformed churches there, but in vain, for their doctrines did not accord with those of the foreign Reformers, who deemed them heretical.

About half the English bishops conformed, the rest were ejected from their sees, and several of them were imprisoned. Soon after Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were sent to the Tower, Holgate, Archbishop of York, was sent thither also. Poynet, who was Bishop of Winchester during Gardiner's expulsion, was imprisoned for having married. Taylor of Lincoln and Harley of Hereford, for refusing to kneel on the elevation of the host at the queen's coronation, and for other heresies, were committed to prison. Ferrar of St. David's, Bird of Exeter, and Coverdale, the translator of the Bible, were all imprisoned for marriage or other offences. Yet as long as the queen maintained the supremacy of the Church, and was not closely connected with the Spanish Court, her native goodness of heart withheld her from the commission of any such, cruelties as disgraced the after years of her reign. On the contrary, she often manifested much sympathy with the sufferings of the ejected clergy, and a fact recorded by Fox, who had to narrate her subsequent severities, shows that she was capable of real magnanimity. Dr. Edward Sandys had been thrown into prison for a daring attack on the queen's title to the throne, and on her religion; yet at the intercession of one of the ladies of the bed-chamber, she ordered him to be set at liberty. She was not, however, disposed to pass over the offences of Cranmer, who had been so terrible an enemy to her mother. On the 13th of October he was brought to trial in Guildhall, on a charge of treason, together with Lady Jane Grey, her husband Lord Guildford Dudley* and Lord Ambrose Dudley, his brother. They were all condemned to death as traitors, and a bill of attainder was passed through Parliament against them. Lady Jane's sentence was to be beheaded or burnt at the queen's pleasure, which was then the law of England in all cases were women committed high treason, or petty treason by the murder of their husbands. The fate of Lady Jane, who pleaded guilty, and exhibited the most mild and amiable demeanour on the occasion, excited deep sympathy, and crowds followed her as she was reconducted to the Tower, weeping and lamenting her hard fate. It was well understood, however, that the queen had no intention of carrying the sentence into effect against any of the prisoners; but she deemed it a means of keeping quiet her partisans to hold them in prison under sentence of death. She gave orders that they should receive every indulgence consistent with their security, and Lady Jane was permitted to walk in the queen's garden at the Tower, and even on Tower Hill. The subject which created the greatest difficulty to this Parliament was that of the queen's marriage. At the commencement of the session the Commons had voted an address to the queen, praying her to marry, to secure the succession to the throne, but imploring her to select her husband from amongst her subjects, and not from any foreign princely family. This was suggested by a very prevalent fear that her partiality, from connections of affinity and religion, for the Spanish family, might lead her to favour the ambitious views of the emperor, and take a husband from his house, thus making this country a province of Spain, and introduce here the despotic and persecuting spirit which prevailed there. Mary had, indeed, shown a decided preference for Courtenay, the young Earl of Devon. He was a remarkably handsome man, but having been a prisoner in the Tower from the time of the execution of his father, the Marquis of Exeter - in the tenth year of his own age - till the accession of Mary, when he was above thirty, he had naturally remained ill-instructed, and acquired low habits in his Tower life. Mary had taken great pains to form his manners, and kept him near her own person, electing his mother as her most confidential friend. But Courtenay was incorrigible. He gave a loose rein to his love of vulgar pleasures, frequented the most debased society and soon thoroughly disgusted the queen. The French and Venetian ambassadors, who were anxious by all means to prevent a Spanish alliance, used every endeavour to induce Courtenay to conduct himself so as to secure the high honour of such a match, but it was in vain, and Mary soon began to give out that it was not befitting her to marry a subject, though to her intimate friends she candidly avowed that the dissolute character of Courtenay was the real cause of her looking abroad.

When Courtenay had lost all chance of securing the queen's hand, the indefatigable Noailles, the French ambassador, endeavoured to turn the scale in favour of the queen's celebrated kinsman, Cardinal Pole. Mary had sent Pole an earnest and immediate invitation to come over to England, and the public, ready to catch at any straw which afforded the least hope of escaping the Spanish match, fell readily into the anticipation that he was the man. Pole had not taken priest's orders, or if he had, dispensation might have been obtained; he was already fifty-three years of age, and become irrevocably addicted to the love of study and seclusion. No idea of marrying the Queen of England ever seems to have entered his head. He was living in a beautiful monastery at Magguzzano, on the Lake of Guarda, and all worldly ambition appeared to have quitted him. But on the news of his cousin's elevation to the throne, the daughter of that Catherine whose most zealous and eloquent champion he had been, and of that faith which he clung to at the expense of the highest promotion in England, he showed himself ready to abandon his repose, and to devote himself to the re-establishment of his beloved Church in his native land. He gladly accepted the office of Papal legate in England, and set out on his journey.

But there was another and more powerful person watching every highway in Europe which pointed towards England, who had designs of his own which he was already labouring diligently to accomplish in that quarter - and who was no other than the Emperor Charles V. Greatly alarmed at the journey of Cardinal Pole towards England, Charles lost no time in preventing his arrival there. He dreaded lest Mary had some old attachment for the cardinal, as she had been chiefly educated by his mother, the Countess of Salisbury, whom Henry VIII. so barbarously beheaded. Charles used his influence with the Pope to obtain his recall. He dispatched Mendoza to stop him in Germany, and alarm him with the representation of the danger of a Papal legate appearing in England till the religious changes were completely effected. Pole halted in his progress, and returned to Dillinghen on the Danube, where he awaited further instructions from the Pope. These were to suspend his journey for the present.

Meantime, Noailles, the French ambassador, was equally active in preventing the designs of Charles. He intrigued with the leaders of the Protestant party, holding midnight conferences with them in his own house, and now advised them to defend themselves from the menaced Spanish despotism by force of arms, promising them the aid of France. Pole, on the other hand, though he could not reach England, gave the queen the soundest advice by letter, namely, not to marry at all; and his advice was earnestly seconded by his friend, Friar Peyto, the same plain speaker who had so startled Henry from his pulpit at Greenwich by denouncing his seizure of the monastic church, and whom Cromwell had therefore threatened to sew up in a sack and fling into the Thames. Peyto had retired to the Continent and resided in the cardinal's house. He now wrote to Mary with as much honest plainness as he had spoken to her father. "Do not marry," he said, "or you will be the slave of a young husband. Besides, at your age the chance of bringing heirs to the throne is doubtful, and, moreover, must be dangerous to your life."

Nothing, however, could move Mary from her project of matrimony. Giving up Courtenay, who was the slave of low vices, she now consulted her great relative, the emperor, her invariable counsellor in all serious matters. The advice from such a quarter could only be of one character. Mary, as a child, had been betrothed to Charles himself, but she then appeared so distant from the throne that he had cavalierly given her up. He now wrote in a strain of the most delicate flattery, which, without saying that he repented of his conduct, expressed it. He fully approved, he said, of the reasons which induced her to relinquish all idea of Courtenay, and only regretted that Pole, so worthy of her, declined all worldly distinctions for the sacred duties of the Church. "Were he of fitting age, he would himself aspire to the honour of her hand, but that not being suitable, whom could he offer her more dear to him than his own son? The advantages of such an alliance, he said, were too prominent to need pointing out, but he would not say a word to bias her judgment; on the contrary, he entreated her to reflect seriously, but without any restraint, on the proposition, and then inform him of the result.

But though Charles put on such a paternal and disinterested air, his ambassador, Renard, was at the queen's elbow to give all the colouring of his rhetoric to the scheme, to expatiate on the beauty and accomplishments of Philip, and on the splendour of the position which such a union of crowns would confer on them above all the world. Mary listened to the proposal with unconcealed pleasure, a pleasure far from reciprocated on the part of Philip, who was only twenty-six years of age, and earnestly entreated his father not to marry him to a woman eleven years older than himself. The union was privately and quickly agreed upon. The wary emperor, however, advised Mary to keep the contract secret for the present, as some of her ministers were desirous that the queen should wed the archduke, his nephew, and all were opposed to the Spanish alliance.

Such secrets, however, soon transpire at Courts, and rumours of this proposed alliance soon spread abroad, creating great alarm and anxiety. The first to remonstrate with Mary on the subject was Gardiner, her chancellor, who boldly pointed out to her the repugnance of the nation to a Spanish marriage; that she would be the paramount authority if she married a subject, but that it would be difficult to maintain that rank with a Spanish king; that the arrogance of the Spanish had made them odious to all nations, and this quality had Already shown itself conspicuously in Philip. He was greatly disliked by his own people, and it was not likely that he would be tolerated by the English; that alliance with Spain meant perpetual war with France, which would never suffer the Netherlands to be annexed to the Crown of England. The rest of Mary's Council took up the same strain, with the exception of the old Duke of Norfolk and the Lords Arundel and Paget. The Protestant party out of doors were furious against the match, declaring that it was meant to bring the Inquisition into the country, to rivet Popery upon it, and to make England the slave of taxation to the Spaniards. The Parliament took up the subject with equal hostility, and the Commons sent their Speaker to her, attended by a deputation of twenty members, praying Her Majesty not to marry a foreigner.

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