Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 10
On the 27th of October Campeggio waited on the queen in private, and afterwards accompanied by Wolsey and four other prelates. Clement had strongly impressed it on the legate to try first to reconcile the king and queen; if that were found impossible, to prevail on Catherine to enter a convent; and if that were unavailing, to conduct the trial with all due form, but to take care to come to no conclusion - at all events, before he had consulted him. Campeggio soon saw that no reconcilement on the part of Henry was possible; he, therefore, as earnestly advised the queen to retire to a convent, stating to her the objections to the validity of her marriage. Catherine was calm, but firm. She said that for herself she took no thought, but that she would never consent to compromise the rights of her daughter by voluntarily admitting the pleas against her marriage. She demanded the aid of able counsel to defend her cause, chosen by herself from amongst the subjects of her nephew. This, to a certain extent, was granted. Several prelates and canonists were appointed, including two natives of Flanders, who came over, but returned again before the trial.
The murmurs of the people continued so audibly, spite of the endeavours of Wolsey to subdue them, that Henry went into the city himself to strike a terror into the complainers. The king assembled the lord mayor, aldermen, and chief citizens at his palace in the Bridewell, and stated the injuries which he had received from the emperor, the reasons for his alliance with France, the causes of uneasiness with his marriage, his conscientious anxiety to do what was right, and his recourse therefore to the impartial judgment of the Holy See. He then warned all men to beware how they cast aspersions upon him, or arraigned his conduct, declaring that the proudest of them should answer with their heads the presumption of their tongues. He followed up this menacing language by ordering a strict search for all concealed arms, and forbad all foreigners, except ten of each nation, to remain in London.
Having thus shown that he was apprehensive of an insurrection on account of his treatment of the queen, and taken steps to prevent it, Henry next endeavoured to obtain from Campeggio the publication of the decretal bull, or, at least, that it should be shown to the Privy Council, but the legate remained firm to his instructions. The king's agents at the same time plied Clement with persuasives to the same end, but with the same result. So far from giving way, the agents informed Henry that the emperor had given back to the Pope Civita Vecchia and all the fortresses which he had taken from the Holy See, and that it was to be feared that there was a secret understanding betwixt the Pope and Charles. At this news Henry dispatched Sir Francis Bryan, Master of the Henchmen, and Peter Vannes, his secretary of the Latin tongue, to Francis I., upbraiding him with his neglect in permitting this to go on; and they then went on to Italy, and called on the Pope to cite all Christian princes to meet in Avignon and settle their differences. In the meantime, these agents were to consult the most celebrated canonists at Rome on the following extraordinary points: - "1. Whether, if a wife were to make a vow of chastity, and enter a convent, the Pope could not, in the plenitude of his power, authorise the husband to marry again. 2. Whether, if the husband were to enter into a religious order, that he might induce the wife to do the same, he might not afterwards be released from his vow., and have liberty to marry. 3. Whether, for reasons of state, the Pope could not license a prince to have, like the ancient patriarchs, two wives, of whom one only should be publicly acknowledged, and enjoy the honours of royalty."
Henry was now goaded, by the difficulties by which he was surrounded, to such a pitch of desperation, that he was ready to turn monk, turn bigamist, and set up for an ancient patriarch, and at the same time prepared to play all sorts of unpatriarch-like tricks, to get rid of Catherine, and, like another Proteus, slip through her hands, and outwit her of the sovereignty. But, to his utter amazement, Catherine now showed him that she held him by a band ten times stronger than he had ever dreamed of. His great object was to prove that the dispensation of Julius II. was not valid, and was by no means proved to be authentic. Catherine now produced a copy of a breve of dispensation, which had been sent to her from Spain. It was granted by the same Pope, dated on the same day, but worded in such a manner as quashed all the objections made to the bull. The king and his party were thunderstruck. There was not an argument left them. But, at this awkward crisis, a sudden hope sprung up.
On the 6th of February, 1529, the intelligence arrived that Clement was dying, and by that time was probably dead. Now was the time, to place Wolsey in the Papal chair, and thus end all difficulties. Francis promised cordially to aid in the attempt; but, to their dismay, Clement revived, and dashed to the ground all their hopes. Made desperate by these chances, Henry now gave the invalid Pope no rest from his solicitations. His agents forced themselves into his very sick chamber, and demanded that the fatal breve in Spain should be revoked, or that Charles should be compelled to exhibit the original within a certain time. "Weak as the Pope's body was, his mind, however, remained firm. He declared that he could not depart from the course already prescribed, that Catherine had even entered a protest in his Court against the persons of her judges, and he recommended Henry, as the best advice he could give him, to lose no time, but to try and determine the matter in his own realm.
Every circumstance, indeed, concurred to recommend the necessity of this course. As the difficulties and delays increased - and Campeggio had been seven months in England - the passion of Henry increased with them. After some time he had recalled Anne Boleyn to Court, and it was now rumoured, that if they were not privately married, they were living as if they were. Anne had a separate establishment, and the king seemed to grudge no extravagance of expenditure on her account. Whilst the Princess Mary had only two payments of £20 each entered in the accounts of the privy purse betwixt November, 1529, and December, 1532, and Queen Catherine none, there were more than forty entries for the "Ladye Anne." There was £100, then £110 at Christmas, "for to disport her with." He paid her bills, one of which amounted to £217, and made her presents of jewels, robes, furs, silks, cloth of gold, a night-gown, and. "linen shirts."
It was getting high time that a decision should be arrived at, and in the midst of this pressure, Henry was enraged to learn that there were secret meetings betwixt the Courts of Paris and Madrid, and that Henry's good brother and perpetual ally, Francis, was on the point of making peace with the emperor. Whilst Henry's wrath fell on Francis, that of Anne fell on Wolsey, whom she accused of being at the bottom of all the delays, and no friend to either the king or her. It was suddenly resolved to recall Gardiner from Borne, and proceed to the trial of the divorce at home.
The Court which was to try the cause met in the Parliament chamber in the Blackfriars, and summoned the king and queen to appear before it on the 18th of June. Henry appeared by proxy; Catherine obeyed the summons in person, but only to protest against the judges as the subjects of Henry, her accuser, and to appeal to the Pope. This appeal was overruled, and the Court adjourned to the 21st of June. On this day both Henry and Catherine appeared, the king sitting in state on the right hand of the cardinal and legate, and Catherine sat on their left, attended by four friendly bishops. On their names being called, Henry answered "Here!" but Catherine was unable to reply. On being again cited, however, she rose and repeated her protest on three grounds. First, as being a stranger; secondly, because the judges were subjects, and held benefices, the gift of her adversary; and last, because from such a Court she could not expect impartiality. This protest being held inadmissible, she rose again, crossed herself, and, leaning on her maids, approached the king, threw herself at his feet, and, according to Cavendish, the secretary of Wolsey, addressed him thus: - "Sir, I beseech you, for all the loves that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice and right. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman and a stranger, born out of your dominions. I have here no assured friend, much less impartial counsel, and I flee to you as the head of justice within this realm, Alas! sir, wherein have I offended you? I take God and all the world to witness that I have been to you a true, humble, and obedient wife, ever conformable to your will and pleasure. Never have I said or done anything contrary thereto, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much; neither did I ever grudge in word or countenance, or show a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom you loved only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, whether they were my friends or mine enemies. This twenty years have I been your true wife, and by me you have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of the world, which has been no fault of mine. I put it to your conscience whether I came not to you a maid. If you have since found any dishonour in my conduct, then am I content to depart, albeit to my great shame and disparagement; but if none there be, then I beseech you thus lowlily to let me remain in my proper state. The king, your father, was accounted in his day as a second Solomon for wisdom; and my father, Ferdinand, was esteemed one of the wisest kings that had ever reigned in Spain: both, indeed, were excellent princes, full of wisdom and royal behaviour. Also, as me-seemeth, they had in their days as learned and judicious counsellors as are at present in this realm, who then thought our marriage good and lawful; therefore, it is a wonder to me to hear what new inventions are brought up against me, who never meant aught but honestly. Ye cause me to stand to the judgment of this new Court, wherein ye do me much wrong if ye intend any kind of cruelty; for ye may condemn me for lack of sufficient answer, since your subjects cannot be impartial counsellors for me, as they dare not, for fear of you, disobey your will. Therefore, most humbly do I require you, in the way of charity, and for the love of God, who is the judge of all, to spare me the sentence of this new Court until I be advertised what way my friends in Spain may advise me to take; and if ye will not extend to me this favour, your pleasure be fulfilled, and to God do I commit my cause."
The queen having uttered this admirable speech, as confounding by its home truths and plain common sense, as it was affecting by its genuine pathos, rose up in tears, and instead of returning to her seat, as was expected, made a low obeisance to the king, and walked hastily out of the Court. "Madam," said Griffith, her receiver-general, on whose arm she leant, "you are called back." For the crier cried aloud with this summons, "Catherine, Queen of England, come back again into Court." But the queen said to Griffith, "I hear it well enough, but on - on, go you on; for this is no Court in which I can have justice. Proceed, therefore:" adding, "I never before disputed the will of my husband, and I shall take the first opportunity to ask pardon for my disobedience."
Henry saw the deep impression which the speech of Catherine had made on the Court, and rose to counteract it. He affected to lament "that his conscience should urge him to seek divorce from such a queen, who had ever been a devoted wife, full of gentleness and virtue." And this the king unblushingly said in the presence of numbers of his council, to whom a short time before he had accused the queen of a design against his life, and had been advised by them, in consequence, to keep at a distance from her, and especially to take the Princess Mary out of her power. He then went over all the old story of his conscience, and his scruples, and the opinion of Archbishop Warham, and the French Bishop of Tarbes, and that, in consequence, a licence of inquiry had been signed by all the bishops. On hearing this, Fisher, Bishop of.[Rochester, who was one of the bishops who had attended the queen, cried out that he had never signed it. "But," said Henry, briskly, "here is your hand and seal." Fisher pronounced it a forgery. Warham admitted that it was not Fisher's signature, but that he authorised it to be signed for him. Fisher denied it positively, saying if he wished it to be done, he could have done it himself. At this the Court rose, but the doom of the honest bishop was sealed. He had been the king's tutor, and was supposed to stand high in his favour, but from this hour he was a marked man, and paid the penalty of his truth on the scaffold.
On the 25th of June Catherine was summoned before the Court again, but she refused to appear, sending in, however, and causing to be read, her appeal to the Pope. On this she was declared contumacious; and the king's counsellors asserted that the following points had been clearly proved: - That her marriage with Prince Arthur had been consummated, and, therefore, that with Henry was unlawful; that the dispensation of Julius II. had been obtained under false pretences and a concealment of facts; and that the Papal breve which had been sent from Spain was a manifest forgery. They therefore called on the judges to pronounce for the divorce. But even had all this been proved, which it had not, Campeggio was not intending to do anything of the kind. The peace which had been rumoured betwixt the Pope and the emperor had been signed on the 29th of June, and Clement was now much at his ease. On the 23rd of July, no progress being made, Henry summoned the Court, and demanded judgment in imperious terms. But Campeggio replied with unmoved dignity: - "I have not come so far to please any man for fear, meed, or favour, be he king or any other potentate. I am an old man, sick, decayed, looking daily for death; what should it then avail me to put my soul in the danger of God's displeasure, to my utter damnation, for the favour of any prince or high estate in this world? Forasmuch, then, that I perceive that the truth in this case is very difficult to be known; that the defendant will make no answer thereunto, but hath appealed from our judgment; therefore, to avoid all injustice and obscure doubts, I intend to proceed no further in this matter until I have the opinion of the Pope and such others of his council as have more experience and learning. I, for this purpose, adjourn this Court till the commencement of the next term, in the beginning of October."
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